With a background in marketing and local government, Inverroche founder Lorna Scott dived into the then-untapped SA gin market with more passion than expertise. Years later, she oversees one of the country’s most loved liquor brands, with community and sound sustainability credentials at the core.
Inverroche pushes the boundaries of gin-making with local flora and botanicals. At the end of 2021, for example, it launched Inverroche Coco Capensis, which lets consumers explore the innovation of colour by adding an all-natural rose-malva pinking essence themselves to the clear gin, giving it an elegant pink colour.
Scott spoke to Wanted Online about her career in the gin industry and the values and priorities of the Inverroche brand.
How did having, in your own words, a “checkered past” help you enter the gin industry?
When I first became interested in the gin industry, locally it was greenfield — few players and no real source of guidance. Having worked in marketing and as a former deputy mayor of Stilbaai involved in sustainability, I used that experience to help shape and guide my thinking to enter the industry. It was the historical significance that made me want to tell the story of humankind and nature to the world in a unique and pioneering way.
In SA’s rich and diverse microcosm of flora, what guides your product innovation and research?
When I created the Inverroche gins, I wanted to create something that was unique yet recognisable in taste and presentation. I deliberately looked for flavours and aromas within the cosmos of juniper berries, which I clustered and grouped into categories. Taste and remarkable flavours play a huge role in the innovation of the brand. It was through trial and error that these beautiful flavours birthed what we now know as Inverroche Amber, Verdant and Classic.
You often speak of the duality between man and nature as well as the commonality of humans. How does your gin contribute to the upliftment of people and nature?
The brand philosophy is about our planet, people, place, partnerships and profits working together to achieve real sustainability. Our community, company and nature are at the heart of our business decisions. Our products are in tune with many green and responsible sentiments, and we support businesses with the same values of sustainable development and social upliftment. Our business is a return to traditional values: handcrafted, community, small batches, authentic and rare. Every action we take is a link to circular making.
What initiatives do you have to protect SA’s fynbos?
We have built our own nurseries. That way, our production process puts no real pressure on the natural environment, as it is all done in a controlled environment. In addition, our suppliers are CapeNature-approved to ensure the conservation of our biodiversity.
The firewood that is used to create heat during our production process comes from invasive plant species that threaten the fynbos.
It is through such actions that we continue to protect our biome.
Your brand represents cosmopolitan luxury and the finer, premium things in life, which is encapsulated in your bottles and branding. How did you develop those designs?
From the beginning, I understood the value of luxury. Coming from a marketing background, I knew luxury was a driver of economic growth. With luxury comes sustainability and distinction, making for the right ingredients to build a long-lasting brand. Once I discovered the aromatic components, it was a natural leap to find commonalities between the Inverroche brand and perfume brands. From the packaging to the experience, it inspired a clear direction.
How did you develop your proprietary process? Why not just follow tried-and-tested existing methods?
There weren’t many sources to guide me when I started the journey. I had to create from what I could find on the internet, which empowered me to experiment and teach myself along the way. My son Rohan and I experimented on a baby pot still and that’s how I learned the basic art of distilling, all in line with understanding the botanicals. We found our own methods and techniques. I later met a master distiller by the name of Dave Acker who mentored me and gave me confidence in what I had already created.
As, first and foremost, a family business, how do you diversify your product range and venture into food and other liquor?
The idea of expanding the brand is a natural progression. As Inverroche is a close-knit family business, we are immersed in each other’s vision and it becomes easy to support each other’s ideas by merging our creativity into the brand. For example, my daughter Lauren’s culinary experience has inspired the direction of the exclusive Inverroche-infused gelato on offer at the Inverroche distillery.
How has your partnership with Pernod Ricard changed the company?
It’s created a significantly stronger global network for the brand through its global database and support system, allowing us to grow our global footprint both locally and internationally. What sets the partnership apart is that the team has become an extension of Inverroche.
How do you remain true to your story?
By making sure that all stakeholders and partners share in the vision that I have built. I believe that when everyone sees and understands your vision, the rest comes naturally!
This article was paid for by Inverroche.