Meet the High-end African brands who are breaking the Chinese market – Monks Gin

China’s gin industry is simply unshakeable! Chinese cocktail enthusiasts are constantly seeking out new craft gin brands, and classy gin bars and even gin festivals can now be found in most major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. China’s alcohol market statistics indicate that revenue generated in the gin segment amounted to US$70 million in 2019, and that the Chinese gin market is expected to grow annually by 2.5% from 2021 onwards. According to a popular Gin Market Trends in China research report published in the late 2021, China’s demand for gin will continue to grow at about 13% by 2030. In fact, driven mostly by China’s growing consumption of gin, gin has become the fastest growing alcoholic beverage category since 2018. This also shows the power of and lucrative opportunities within the Chinese market for foreign business.

To Chinese consumers, gin is associated with heritage, sophistication, and foreign countries, and in particular, Europe where gin originated from. Consequently, seeking out foreign gin brands has become trendy – a drink to be seen ordering in bars, a talking point at dinner parties, and post-worthy on Chinese social media.

However, the upsurging gin market in China is also attributed to the domestic regional gin distilleries, such as Porcelain Shanghai Dry Gin and Peddlers Gin that incorporate locally-grown ingredients like Mongolian juniper berries and Sichuan peppers and have been hugely successful in China. Gin brands that take time to understand local people’s tastes and produce flavours that can appeal to them will give these brands an edge that can help them stand out and achieve success in the Chinese market. Unique flavours are also what is helping smaller brands to break the market and compete with large international brands, such as Gordon’s and Bombay Sapphire, as Chinese consumers are also interested in small batch, craft distilleries that offer higher quality gins and new flavours. The first-class South African gin brand, Monks Gin, has already become a hit amongst Chinese gin lovers due to its quality and the uniqueness of its flavours.

The internationally well-known gin distillery Monks Gin was launched by Nic and Di Davis, who both came from the same region in South Africa, Breede River, a picturesque mountain valley region in the Western Cape. Driven by their love of the picturesque valley and their passion for African botanicals, coupled with their taste for artisanal gin, they began the Monks Gin journey by building South Africa’s first off-grid distillery late in 2017. It’s here in their secret sanctum that they work to manifest the miraculous- where they obsessively conjure and concoct, tirelessly test and tweak and push to perfect the alchemy of gin.

Monks Gin markets itself as a dry gin brand on a mission to create single-batch, premium gins and infusing them with African medicinal herbs. The customers can expect intensely flavour-forward botanicals, nine of them hand-picked locally and many endemic to the Cape Valley. Combined with crystal-clear mountain waters and the result is a rewarding one, featuring ripples of citrus, berries and Cape Buchu.

After years of hard work, Monks Gin is now also a multi-award-winning gin brand having won the gold in the International Spirit Awards and the best in category in four territories, including China, Europe, Africa and San Francisco in the USA. This has also contributed to its growing acclaim in China. Their gin flavours, Mysterium, Medella and Mary Jane, have gained professional approval and been exalted in the World Gin Awards, the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirit Award, and the South African Craft Gin Awards. Monks Gin’s uniquely flavoured gins have also gained an international following in South Africa, across Africa, China, Germany and the UK where they currently export to.

Among the high-end gin distilleries, Monks Gin also particularly stands out for its absolute commitment on environmental and social sustainability. The Breede Valley, where the brand based, is an agricultural region whose workforce is, for the most part, unskilled farm labourers and grape pickers. With Monks Gin being a small, family owned and run enterprise, they pride themselves in their hands-on approach. From botanicals picking to bottle packaging, every manufacturing steps are hand-make with simple machines. This affords the brand opportunities to employ and upskill inhabitants from the community which they consider key to their longevity and success. To date, the brand’s small staff have grown from having relatively few skills to being multi-tasking, engaging ambassadors of the brand.

Aiming to contribute even more, Monks Gin have worked hard to put their distillery on the tourist map and have trained their staff to host tastings for tour groups. This added attraction to the region and has encouraged an influx of tourism which in turn brought valuable revenue to the valley, enabling the entire region to grow. In the long term, as they grow their footprint, Monks Gin envisages being instrumental in employing and upskilling many more people in the valley. It is the brand’s dream to facilitate the building of an early learning centre and library as well as aspiring to set up a bursary scheme for tertiary education for the disadvantaged children in their underdeveloped community in South Africa.

The brand’s vision for the future is to grow their international footprint as widely as possible. By standing up to scrutiny with the best in the world in this sector, the inflows of foreign capital will facilitate the expansion of the distillery and thereby the upskilling of more and more local unskilled farm labours. This goal of company undoubtedly brought them to China where they participated in the 2022 China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo with the support of Africa Reimagined during which they made numerous business partnerships and began to grow in the Chinese market. They are now available on Kiliselect, a foremost e-commerce platform for luxury African brands in China.

Stay tuned to our website to learn more about Monks Gin and more luxury African brands that we have supported with entering the Chinese market.

Africa Reimagined is a China market entry service platform and consultancy for luxury African brands that commit to the sustainability of Africa. Visit our website to learn about our services and the brands we work with. Contact us to learn more:

  • If you are a China-based business owner or person, how you can connect with our brands and explore business partnerships.
  • If you are an African brand, how we can support you with entry in the Chinese market including preparing for the Chinese market and finding buyers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trevor Lwere

Research and Coordination Analyst

Trevor Lwere is a Research and Coordination analyst at Development Reimagined with a background in Economics and Global Affairs. His interests include geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic development. He holds a Masters’ degree in Global Affairs fro Tsinghua University and a BA Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Yujie Shi

 Policy and Research Analyst

Yuejie Shi is a Research and Data Analyst at Development Reimagined with a special focus on Global Trade and China-Africa Trade.

Sena Voncujovi

Research Analyst

Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.

Rugare Mukanganga


Rugare is an economist at Development Reimagined, providing economic and data analysis support across projects.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.

Ivory Kairo

Communications Support

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French

Huiyi Chen

Partnership Development

Huiyi Chen is a Research and Coordination Analyst on China-Africa cooperation and leading the engagement with Chinese stakeholders at Development Reimagined.

Jinyu Chen

Research Analyst | Paris, France

Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University.  At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers. 


Jade Scarfe

Communications Support
Jade is a research analyst and communication support at Africa Reimagined. She supports with liaising with African brands, creating content and gathering China market research.

Yike Fu

China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

Rosie Wigmore

Project Manager | Beijing, PRC

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Leah Lynch

Deputy Director | Beijing, PRC

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

Hannah Ryder

Founder and CEO 

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.

In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.