By now we are somewhat bored with premium beverages. However, the story of Robin Gerlach, founder and creator of Elephant Gin, has come to our attention and we thought it was a good excuse to interview him. This young entrepreneur has three passions: traveling, elephants and gin. If you shake these three elements together, you get Elephant, a premium gin made with love whose proceeds go to the protection of elephants in Africa. This London-based German tells us a story against animal brutality and about his commitment to quality spirits. As we like it in Good2b.
Premium is a reviled word nowadays.. What do you think a premium brand should have to make itself different from the rest?
Indeed premium is a word often used without any connection to the actual product. For me premium is linked to the effort that went into creating a product.
So I think more about the “crafting process” for example rather than only about the final result. Crafting involves “manual labour” which results in a smaller output but its needed among other efforts to achieve a premium level. To select and handpick the botanicals for example in order to create the highest quality possible or to write every little lable on your bottles by hand, is what I refer to when I say “manual labour”. I guess, it’s the “little things”, that makes you different from the rest.
15% of Elephant Gin profits are invested in saving elephants in Africa . How does a business man from London end up interested in saving elephants in another continent and making gin in Germany?
I get asked that often. It is not straight forward but it is my personal story and I will try to summarize it in a few sentences. I started working in London because I studied in the UK. Then after a few years I realized that I needed a break, so I quit my job and travelled through Africa. I climbed Killimanjaro with my mother and travelled through Kenya and Tanzania. It was a time during which I reflected on life in general and when I got to meet some very impressive individuals. Coming out of this totally different environment and having the chance to meet people that dedicate most of their time to the support and conservation of the life of elephants, was something that turned my world a little upside down. I got to know more about their work and what actually moves them to do what they do. I became curious and learned more about the stories, the circumstances and the facts behind why every 15min a wild elephant is killed and I was really shocked. When I finally got back to London I could not stop thinking about these amazing people, who devoted their life to help and save others…. Shortly after that… I was introduced to Tessa, who had spent over three month in South Africa working with a foundation called “Space for Elephants” and has had a similar experience. So we joined forces and started brainstorming about what we could do to support the people we had met. I don’t know when exactly but at some point we said: “Lets create a gin brand”… Most days in the bush ended with a sundowner and nothing better than a G&T. So we started reading, researching and about 1.5 years later Elephant Gin was born. Why Germany: because we are both German.
Your gin is made out of 14 botanicals and some of them can just be found in Africa. What makes them so especial?
Each botanical has a very special story. Most of them have been used for many, many years by African tribes to cure pains or illnesses, like stomach cramps e.g. They all have very special and unusual aromas, which gives us the chance to create in combination with some of other botanicals we use our very individual flavor.
Every bottle is one of a kind called after the elephants the foundations protect
Every bottle is unique, tell us what’s written down that makes all of them different….
We rather call them one off a kind not unique. We produce in batches and each batch is a little different to the next. Not much but a little. So we thought instead of just calling them batch 1 and batch 2… we would call them after the elephants the foundations protect. The fun connection comes that each elephant is a little different to the next, just like the batches…. They are all handwritten and the number is the number in each batch.
Under your point of view, which is the perfect cocktail for each time of the day and why?
Well, I would not recommend drinking cocktails for breakfast, that is a bit too much. But for a sundowner a simple G&T with either a slice of fresh apple or a orange peel works fantastic. If you want to be a little bit more adventurous then I would recommend one of our favorites. The elephant old fashion. (50ml Elephant Gin, 10-15ml of honey, 3 dash Angostura and orange twist – steer down gin, angostura and honey, then add a block of ice and finish with an orange twist). It is the perfect drink while reading adventure stories or dreaming about your own little adventure.
I love wondering around the streets around Borough Market, like Bermondsey, there is a particular cool bar called 214
And now: what’s the future of cocktail brands? You decided to make a really small distribution and open pop up bars, for example…
This is difficult to say. Each brand has their space and we want to be a brand that engages with people, that tells the story of the elephants in Africa and that is not just a product with a price but a product with heart and character. Our mission is to get people talking, get them involved and maybe, possibly, get them to do some good. It does not have to be in Africa and for elephants but we can all do our little bit.
Your favorite hotspots around in London are… (cocktail bars, cafés, streets, stores, restaurants…)
There are a few areas that I like. For example I love wondering around the streets around Borough Market, like Bermondsey. There is a particular cool bar called 214 on Bermondsey street. If you want a good bar in the west end I would recommend Mr Foggs (Green Park) or the all time favorite for martini’s is Dukes Hotel Bar. The best coffee can be found in Soho in a little café called Flat White (Berwick St). One other area that I really like is where you find one of my favorite stores “Labour and Wait” (Redchurch Street).
I’d ban pre-mixed cocktails, there’s nothing more beautiful than watching a barkeeper instinctively selecting the ingredients and creating a beautifully balanced drink
You thought you’d never end up…
In London for nearly 10 years… but it is an amazing city with so much variety and so many interesting people.
Pre-mixed cocktails! Why degrade the bar culture so much! Nothing more beautiful than watching a barkeeper instinctively selecting the ingredients and creating a beautifully balanced drink.
Tell us 10-15 tracks to listen to while you drink an Elephant Gin gin&tonic…