Operating from a converted storeroom at their home in Hout Bay, husband and wife team Helene and Guido Zsilavecz, originally started Blackwood Spirits as a hobby – one which has since resulted in a number of international awards for their gin and grappa. They describe their undertaking as “a micro – make that nano – distillery”, named after the road on which they live.
Their efforts have been rewarded with a 2021 Michelangelo silver medal in October for their Husk Spirit as well as a gold medal for their Cape Kelp gin. In 2020 Blackwood Spirits received a Michelangelo double gold medal for their London Dry Gin.
The innovative couple first tried their hand at winemaking, beer brewing and liqueurs for fun but during a trip to Austria – where there is a tradition of a post-meal digestive schnapps – their interest in the magical alchemy of distilling was piqued. “Distilling allows for such a wide array of truly wonderful products from an equally wide array of raw material. This captured our imagination and we were quickly hooked on trying out different things.”
Guido explains, “we started our journey into distilling husk spirit (grappa). When we discovered that making grappa was a rather complicated process we first concentrated on gin while we built up our small craft distillery. Eventually, three years ago, we managed to source grapes and crafted our first batch!”