Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied
The dynamic father-and-son team behind Pienaar & Son blend 40 years of distilling technology experience with a 20-something master distiller who is determined to find fresh ways of combining science and art in distilling their gin and vodka. Andre Pienaar tells us more about starting the business with his father in a hidden cul-de-sac off Roeland Street in the East City.
How did your business start?
About five years ago, I bought a tiny still online as I thought it would be fun to make gin and whiskey at home. I quickly realised that it spoke to me more than anything else I had done as a career before. I have a degree in chemistry and biochemistry and my father is a chemical engineer who builds stills for a living, so starting a micro-distillery was just a no-brainer. We appreciate traditional methods and the history of distillation but aim to find fresh ways of crafting spirits with a modern twist. We believe in starting traditions, not following them.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
I didn’t want to just be another interesting company stationed out in Woodstock or Salt River and really wanted to start a true inner-city distillery. The East City also has recently been developing really fast and it’s an exciting neighbourhood to be part of.
How did you find your premises?
Good old Gumtree.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
The main thing with a distillery is that it needs the correct zoning to obtain a liquor licence. The fact that our premises have MU2 zoning allows us to distil on site, and its proximity to the centre of the city is amazing.
Who are your neighbours?
My landlord actually lives right next door. Then we’re sandwiched between Childline, some architects and a block of flats (Temple House).
What are the rental prices like in this area?
Like most of Cape Town, they’re not low. But it is all comparative. It’s cheaper than Bree Street but considerably more than Woodstock.
How many people visit your business each day?
The distillery is in a small cul-de-sac just off of Roeland Street so we don’t have any random foot traffic coming past. All our customers have specifically come through to see us. We’re only really open to the public on Saturdays between 10am and 2pm. That being said, I would estimate we see about 40 customers per week.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We can’t really expand from our current premises. If we were to outgrow it we would either have to move or open a second location.
Do you operate online as well?
Yes, you can buy our gin and vodka from our website and get it delivered countrywide.
What’s your most popular item?
Our two gins sell pretty evenly. The Empire (a cucumber and citrus nfusion) and the Orient (fresh citrus and Eastern spices).
Pienaar & Son Distilling Company
021 461 4993