Gin in one form or another is known in East-Africa as Waragi. It’s a distilled banana based spirit containing gin botanicals. Until recently, gin or enguli as homemade gin was predominantly a Ugandan product. However in the 2010’s several Rwandan companies entered the market place bringing local competition and Rwanda’s own answer to the famous Uganda Waragi Gin.
Uganda Waragi or it’s homemade counterparts make up almost 80% of all the alcohol drunk in Uganda and Rwanda is fast following this trend.
Red Waragi is brewed to perfection by the Rwandan company Ingufu Gin Ltd. It’s a botanicals first gin – flavoursome, distinct but not over powering. Like all great gins, the consumer gets that wonderful waft of juniper scent each time the bottle is opened.
Gin arrived in East Africa during the British Colonial rule. Likely to be the only part of colonial times which is thought of affectionately, British Soldiers introduced gin to the Ugandans and it was an instant hit. Sadly like many other colonial laws, the British rulers decided that only British imported Gin could be drunk in Uganda – which fortunately was protested strongly by the Ugandan politcial parties of the time. When the UPC party took power in the 1960’s it ordered Ugandas first distillery be built. The factory was staffed with a group of 26 blenders who formed the Association of Uganda Distillers and Vitners, which was headed by master blender Joel Sentamu.
Joel and his team created a unique gin was by the lake shores in Port Bell, and the fresh waters of Lake Victoria. It was this gin recipe which ultimately became the world famous Uganda Waragi.
Despite being content with Uganda Waragi as a drink of choice in Rwanda for many years, ultimately Rwanda wanted to bring it’s own flavour to the table – Red Waragi. Unlike it’s predecessor, the Rwandan version is soft, smooth and almost silky in texture.
Until the recent creation of Rwandan spirits, in the main Rwanda was a beer drinking country.
The most popular commercially produced beers drunk in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig and Amstel. In rural areas, urwagwa is a beer made from the fermented juice of bananas that has been mixed with roasted sorghum flour.