Kenyan Originals, an alcohol brand that is uplifting Kenyan farmers

Over the weekend, I came across a tweet that was asking whether the Kenya Originals brand of alcoholic drinks was Kenyan. To which, he got an overwhelming response from other tweeps that the brand was as Kenyan as it gets.

Another tweep, wanted to know who owns the brand because they had done such an awesome job with the brand assets and graphics. This is where I came to learn that it was owned by the Savanna Brands Company.

I first came across the brand at my local when they were having a promotion for their ciders. Having tasted some not very pleasant craft beers, I was a bit skeptical of trying it out, but the sales lady made a very good case for the ciders such that I bowed to the pressure and decided to have one. Surprisingly, it was actually very nice, and I ended up taking more of them for the night with my favorite being the Lime and Ginger.

The Kenyan Originals brand was founded in 2018 by Alexandra Chappate and was interestingly inspired by “Muratina” a traditional brew. Story has it that, Ms Alexandra during a visit to one of her friends got to taste the local brew and being that she had an alcoholic beverages background, she decided to have a go at making her own brand.

Before coming to Kenya, Ms Chappate used to work with Pernod Ricard, the French Alcoholic beverages brand in West Africa. Pernod Ricard own premium alcohol brands such as Jameson, Chivas, Martell, Regal among others. It was this experience that she channeled into her brand to make it what it is today.

What makes the brand Kenyan is not only the fact that it is manufactured at their Baba Dogo factory in Ruaraka but also the fact that they source all their ingredients locally. These include bitter orange leaves, lemongrass, bay leaves, roses, hibiscus, baobab, njugu (peanuts), mint, Ginger, mangoes, and Chilli.

The Pineapples that are used to make their Pineapple and Mint cider are sourced from Kisii and Thika. While Mangoes used to make their Mango & Ginger cider are sourced from Makueni. Limes used to make their Lime & Ginger which happens to be my favorite are sourced from Garissa with the Passion fruits used in their Passion Fruit & Lime are sourced from Nyahururu.

The same applies to their Gin which is distilled with botanicals that are sourced from different parts of the country. Including Bitter Orange leaves from Kilifi, Lemongrass from Kabati, Bay leaves from Kinangop and Roses from the Mt. Kenya region.

Given how farmers usually suffer from lack of market for their produce, one cannot help but appreciate how the K.O brand is making a difference to these farmer’s lives by providing a ready market for their produce.

Not only has K.O created a market for farmers, but it has also provided employment for over 100 youth at their Ruaraka factory. With a majority of them coming from humble backrounds.