Les and Paula Ansley say they stumbled across the idea after going on a safari.
A year later, their dream of making a selling gin infused with of all things, elephant dung is now a small business.
Paula Ansley says that while on the safari, a wildlife ranger explained that while elephants eat a variety of fruits and flowers, their bodies digest less than a third of what they consume.
“As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals,” Les Ansley said during a recent visit to their operations. “Why don’t we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?” he recalled his wife.
The couple describes their product, Indlovu Gin, as “lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy” and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
Indlovu means elephant in the Zulu language.
The Ansleys say about five sizeable bags of dung are collected for a batch of 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin. The droppings are dried and crumbled, then washed to remove dirt and sand. The remains of the fruits, flowers, leaves and bark eaten by the elephants are what’s left behind.
Those botanicals are then sterilized and dried again and placed in an airing cupboard. Think of it like a “spice cupboard,” Ansley said. Eventually, the remains are infused in the gin.
The gin bottles are marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. “So, you’re able to compare almost different vintages of the gin,” Ansley said.
Each bottle sells for around $32 and is marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant poop was collected. The couple did not say how many they’ve sold.
“The initial reaction of most people is, ‘What? There’s no way.’ But most people are very keen to actually taste it,” Ansley said.