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Nov 28, 2019 | Trends

Hope’s dynamic tasting room takes visitors through the brand experience

IMAGES: TARYN McLUCKIE

Experiential brand exercises have become de rigueur, with lifestyle products increasingly coming with an immersive element that offers a behind the scenes look at how and where something is created.

Hope’s approach has always been incredibly hands-on, from its origins as a small-batch distillery started by husband and wife team Leigh Lisk and Lucy Beard, to the fact that the owners live on the premises and oversee the operations closely. Their experiential tasting room offers a real up-close-and-personal taste of the brand. Located in the industrial Cape Town area of Salt River, it’s a state-of-the-art facility with homely charm.  

“Initially, our priority was to get the distillery up and running, but once it was well established we were able to turn our attention to the tasting room. We wanted to reflect the spirit of our products and bring a more distinctive yet modern look to the space,” says Lucy. It made sense to time the upgrade with the release of Hope’s updated branding – which reflects a crisp and contemporary new aesthetic. The couple was also cognisant of injecting the same entrepreneurial spirit with which they founded their brand into the space via their design choices.

“It’s important to us to support local, and so we sourced from some of our favourite South African designers and artists,” says Lucy. It’s a harmonious but eclectic mix that shows off some of South Africa’s talent in action and conveys the same cool, unpretentious attitude of the Hope brand itself.

The new and improved tasting room is the public-facing side of what is primarily a functional working distillery, and allows visitors to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the products, as well as experience a guided tasting of Hope’s portfolio of spirits. In a casual but educational format, guests are guided through a three- or four-gin tasting, which highlights the attributes of each of the distillery’s core products. “We include our three primary gins, and then a limited release edition, whatever we’re working on at that time – it allows us to offer something unique to visitors to the tasting room, something that’s not available widely,” says Lucy.

Aside from an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, the experience will educate people about the complexity of what goes into gin – the process, ingredients, and equipment. The tasting room overlooks the distillery itself, which facilitates a really immersive experience. The couple has also set up a botanicals table filled with samples of ingredients and paraphernalia to show guests exactly what goes into each bottle – a sensory and practical way to demystify the process.

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