Meet the Makers of South African Elephant Dung Gin

  • Is there a word for it when you’re curious but also grossed out at the same time?

A few months back we brought you the story of the Swedish Disgusting Food Museum and their exhibition of revolting alcohols. Among those drinks was a delightful Korean wine made out of rice and human feces.

But if people poop does not quite suite your delicate palate, you’re in luck. You now have an alternative, although this drink probably should’ve been featured in the same museum exhibit.


Allow us to present to you Indlovu Gin, produced by the South African company Ibhu. The drink is still produced from a bunch of crap, but at least it didn’t come from a human being.

Oh no, the poop in question was excreted by a much larger animal. In fact, the largest of all living land mammals – the African elephant.

Granted, Indlovu is not exactly a new product. It has been on the market since November 2019, and is available in many African countries and some places in Europe.

According to Ibhu’s website, Indlovu is the only gin “designed by the African elephant from foraged botanicals.” The company says that the drink uncovers “the true taste of Africa in every glass.”

Really? That’s the marketing slogan you want to go for with a poop gin?

Oh well. Whatever works, we suppose.

“Well crack my tusks, the humans were right. My poop IS delicious.”

Completely Normal Ideas

As far as exotic drinks go, we’re ready to rank Indlovu Gin pretty high on the list. But how on earth did someone come up with an idea to make gin out of elephant droppings?

Like so many other strange ideas, Indlovu was born with one question: “Could it be done?” And like with so many other strange ideas, perhaps that question should’ve been: “Should it be done?”

Well, at least according to the drink’s inventors – Paula and Les Ansley – it should. The Ansleys moved from the UK to South Africa after retiring. At that point, the thought of making poop gin had never crossed their minds.

It all changed when the couple visited an animal reserve. During their visit, a game ranger told them about elephants’ particular eating habits.

Apparently, the huge creatures are picky eaters, but their digestive systems absorb only roughly half of whatever they eat. The rest of the consumed remains in their dung and comes out of the other end.

At this point, a perfectly normal idea popped into the head of the gin-loving Les. What if he was to allow the elephants to gather only the choicest botanical ingredients and then use their dung to flavor a gin?

Like we said, a perfectly normal idea. Paula thought so too, because after her husband consulted her, the two decided to give the elephant crap gin a shot.

“We contacted the Botlierskop Game Reserve in the Western Cape and we said, do you think you could send us some elephant dung?” Les told the CNN.

Again, a perfectly normal request.

“They said, yeah sure, no problem, and they mailed us some elephant dung and we started looking at how to prepare it,” he added.

Perfecting the Poop Process

Neither Les nor Paula had any experience in distilling alcoholic drinks. But this story just goes to show that anything is possible if you put your mind into it. Even making elephant dung booze.

After what we assume was a lot of trial and more or less disgusting error, the couple perfected their process. It all begins with high-quality artisanal dung, excreted in batches by dedicated elephant buttholes.

First, the dung goes through a drying and sanitization process. Then, the poop is rinsed and dried again, resulting in what Les describes as a perfectly safe and edible product.

Finally, the sterilized dung is infused into the gin. That’s a fancy way for saying that it’s plopped into a batch of booze until the flavors come off.

Yummy.

After bottling, each bottle of Indlovu is marked with the GPS of coordinates of where the dung used to make it came from, and the date when it was collected.

“You can see that it’s the winter in Kruger or summer in Botlierskop. It’s an additional story,” Les said.

It Tastes… Brown?

The manufacturing process sounds all fine and good, but no booze is worth its price if it tastes like… Well, crap. And the question about Indlovu is, does it?

Apparently not.

“It’s got an earthy, grassy-type flavor. Depending on where we collect the botanicals or which elephants we collect botanicals from, the gin flavor is going to change slightly,” Les explained.

Should you taste the gin, you would detect hints of the usual gin flavorings, such as juniper berries and coriander. But you’ll also taste whatever it was that the elephant chose to eat, which could include aloe, acacia, or any number of other grasses, fruits, or bark.

“We were very aware that if we are making a gin from dung, we have to make a good gin. Otherwise it’s only ever going to be gimmicky,” Les said.

If you want to test the gin yourself, it retails for around $34 per bottle. That might seem steep, but you’ll also be contributing to a good cause – Ibhu donates 15% of the gin’s profits to the Africa Foundation to support wildlife conservation at the Phinda Game Reserve.

It only makes sense. Without the elephants, the Ansleys would lose their gin’s primary ingredient.

And that’d be a crappy end to one weird drink.

Comments