Destination Johannesburg: Time Anchor Distillery

Interviews | 24th Oct 2019

In fashionable Maboneng, the founders of Johannesburg’s first craft distillery share their passion for experimenting, gin and Joburg.

Tell us a little bit about Time Anchor Distillery?
Warrick: Time Anchor Distillery was established in 2013, very much as Shanna-Rae’s passion. For a while, she’d been tinkering with vodka infusions for birthday parties and Christmas. That was the start of the bug until she got to the point of asking how you actually make vodka.
Shanna-Rae: I thought it can’t be that hard – let’s see, “Google: how do you make alcohol?” I was then really fortunate because for my birthday two months later Warrick bought me a whole start-up kit – everything you need.

What are your recipes inspired by?
Shanna-Rae: We use quite a lot of personal influences, and I also like to experiment. Our botanics gin is inspired by South Africa – it’s got rose geranium, fynbos, honeybush, figs. That came about through conversations with people and trying ingredients – like the figs; I’d tried a fig toffee from a toffee maker in Cape Town, and I thought, “That would be great [in a gin]”.
Warrick: We enjoy challenging the status quo. A lot of South African distilleries are focused on gin, whereas we are more of a turnkey distillery. We take pride in each offering.

Where does the name Time Anchor come from?
Warrick: We started brainstorming names, coming up with words that had meaning to us.  We thought what’s different, what inspires people? Being part of a community, trust, loyalty, friends, family, all of these words carry a lot of power and weight. Time Anchor just jumped out to both of us, instantly. Time representing the time it actually takes to make a quality spirit.
Shanna-Rae: And it’s anchored in traditional techniques. Although we like to play around and do different things, we try to stick as much as we can to tradition. Distilling hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries.

What’s the most popular spirit you offer?
Shanna-Rae: Gin at the moment.
Warrick: Gin is so popular globally, it’s unbelievable. No two gins are alike. People are losing the mentality that gin is a summer drink. You can do so much more with gin than just a G&T. It’s unbelievable in cocktails, so people are starting to drink it all year round.

Why is the distillery based in Maboneng?
Shanna-Rae: The reason we’re in Maboneng is to be inspired by the creative people around. We’ve definitely been encouraged by the conversations that we have here. For instance, our vanilla rum came about because an artist, who was here before, said, “Your rum’s amazing, I really love it”. He’d just been to Reunion Island, where they do this thing called rum arrangé, which is infused rum. So I found out more, and then we did a vanilla rum which is widely popular.

Where do you source your ingredients from?
Shanna-Rae: We source as much as we can from South Africa. And then we need to be consistent as well. Our coriander was from Bulgaria, but I said let’s see what we can track down here, and now I’ve found a South African grower of the Bulgarian variety so that worked perfectly.

How long have you been based in Joburg?
Warrick: Born and raised; I’ve lived in Joburg my whole life.
Shanna-Rae: I moved here in 2007, and then I worked in Nigeria and Kenya before returning around 2010. All of a sudden it was just a different city – it definitely had changed. After the world cup, I felt the city became a lot friendlier, younger and more inclusive.

If you had out of town friends visiting, where would you take them for a nightcap?
Warrick: The Landmark in Bryanston – it’s a mall environment, but you’ve got mind-blowing cocktails.
Shanna-Rae: There’s a place called Sin + Tax in Rosebank, it’s a speakeasy. That would be where I would go. The guys that run it really challenge things – you’ll go there and they’ve got a list of just 12 drinks, which they change every few months. I really like their vibe.

Where would you go for brunch?
Shanna-Rae: I’d go to the Greenside Cafe, it’s a vegan cafe. They serve delicious food and it’s a cool little place and the front has a yoga studio.

Where would you go for a dose of culture in Johannesburg?
Shanna-Rae: There’s a nice theatre in Maboneng called Pop Art, they have shows on Sundays, from travelling comedians.
Warrick: Constitution Hill, and the Cradle of Mankind is also a must. It’s not far from Johannesburg and suddenly you’re in a completely different environment. We enjoy live theatre, so we also might check out what’s on at the Teatro de Montecasino.

How would you spend 24 hours in Johannesburg?
Shanna-Rae: I’d start off with Market on Main here in Maboneng, then I’d have to head over to the Cradle of Mankind, and then to finish off with dinner in Johannesburg, The Living Room or Randlords are great for views, or there’s Workshop 55 which is quite cool.

Three words to describe Johannesburg?
Warrick: Integrated, culturally-rich, global.
Shanna-Rae: Vibrant, pulsating, open.

Like the sound of Time Anchor Distillery and Maboneng? The Saxon Concierge is on hand to assist with immersive city and art tours. Enquire today:

Tel: +27 (0)11 292 6000
Email: reservations@saxon.co.za

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