There are few spirits on the market as polarizing as gin, but The Old G, a new Black and minority-owned brand, is hoping to shift that perspective. In a recent chat with the founders of The Old G, we came away learning that this brand aims to salute the “Old Gs” in our communities and also shine a light on the underrepresented.
The Old G was founded by adult beverages industry expert Peter Ibrahim and artist Hebru Brantley. While the professional realms they hail from differ from one another, they found common ground in producing a London Dry gin that captures the clean, crisp, and classic characteristics of the spirit.
CASSIUSLIFE had the pleasure of speaking with Ibrahim and Brantley, both self-assured yet humble throughout our conversation, who embody what they hope to achieve with The Old G. But before we get into the brand, we took time to get the background on the pair and their lives before starting this exciting new venture.
“I worked as a lawyer in the United Kingdom in sports law so when I came to the States over 14 years ago, there wasn’t a natural fit for me to get into the spirits world except through sports,” Ibrahim began. “I worked with several of the Miami sports team and MillerCoors then began helping move product throughout Florida before moving on to Bacardi and working with Bombay Sapphire and then an exciting project some of you might have heard of, D’usse.”
Ibrahim, who is of Egyptian heritage, further explained that he was there for the early days of D’usse and working with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation team to get the cognac to market before moving on to Jameson Irish Whiskey and Olmeca Tequila, both under the Pernod Ricard umbrella before returning to Bacardi to help push Bombay Sapphire across North America, one of the most notable gin brands in the world.
While Ibrahim’s vocation in the adult beverage space came over time, Brantley had a different exposure to the business by way of his art trade.
“I’ve been fortunate to have collaborations with a number of spirits brands over the years, and the last one I did was Bombay Sapphire, which is how I met Peter,” Brantley shared. “Through his knowledge and just overall energy, we vibed. We became fast friends. When it came time for Peter to venture out on his own, he asked me to come direct some of the creative angles. It was a no-brainer for me.”
Brantley added that as a fan of gin, working alongside Ibrahim en route to creating their own version of the spirit was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up as an artist, adding that learning so much about spirits with Ibrahim transformed into an intriguing prospect he couldn’t look beyond.
As we noted above, gin has its fans but several detractors, especially here in the States. The pair explained their embrace of gin as a beverage of choice.
“I lived many years in the U.K. where gin is the number one spirit, so I’ve tasted so many over the years,” Ibrahim shared. “But when I moved over to the U.S., gin was ranked sixth among adult beverages as a category. It was shocking to me at first but I realized that so many people have had a terrible first experience with gin.”
Ibrahim, via working with his own brand, encounters people weekly who tell him how much they don’t enjoy gin because of discovering the spirit too soon or not knowing how to enjoy it. He added that it surprised him because gin is essentially vodka enhanced with botanicals, which is perhaps the most brilliant way to explain gin as we’ve ever heard.
Brantley’s discovery of gin isn’t dissimilar to many young Black men in the States, considering the popularity of Snoop Dogg’s classic hit “Gin & Juice” and he explained his early days with the spirit.
“Like most things in my life, I came to discover them through the vehicle of Hip-Hop,” Brantley adds. “I was a shorty during the “Gin & Juice” era, well before I was legally able to drink, and this combination was the one I knew about through the music. As I came of age and through Hip-Hop culture, I found my way to gin as a young man and learned the finer points of gin working with Peter.”
Brantley made a revelatory statement that gin was the only adult beverage he encountered that, in his words, “treated him right” and hilariously explained that brown liquor, which has not treated him so well, is so popular in Black neighborhoods. In that way, Brantley was something of an outlier in this regard.
So what’s the verdict on The Old G? As I’ve written in this space many times over, gin is my favorite spirit. I can drink it neat, in cocktails, on the rocks, you name it. Ibrahim and Brantley were correct in saying that their product approaches the classic London Dry style easily and may shift some ideas on how it can be enjoyed. In my opinion, it’s the first gin I’ve had neat where I didn’t feel a need to add anything, not even ice. The “hood,” where I come from as well, would definitely approve.
“We went with the London Dry style because frankly, it’s the best representation of the beverage and you can’t add anything artificial to the end product,” Ibrahim shared. “We wanted it to be pure from the inside of the bottle onto the outside.”
Ibrahim added that it took the team around three years of tweaking and getting the right botanical balance before they were ready to put the liquid inside the bottles.
About that bottle, the design on the outside is the handiwork of Brantley, a Chicago native who has exhibited his works around the world. The Old G’s all-Black bottle design is so striking and bold, that it would immediately strike up a conversation for anyone who has it on display on their bar cart or shelf.
“We designed it this way so that if it’s on a liquor store shelf that it would stand out, or if it’s sitting in someone’s home around other bottles, you’d be unable to avoid seeing our product,” Brantley said. “I wanted to design something simple yet sleek, especially in this space. Hopefully over time and continued success, the design of the bottle will become timeless.”
The Old G can be purchased in Florida, Georgia, California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey with further locations forthcoming.
To learn more about the gin and the founders, click here.
The Old G
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