During the last decade, India has witnessed an explosion of craft beer distilleries. In a matter of time, we started importing Indian craft beers to the global markets. Numerous microbrewery pubs opened up in major cities, and mass-produced lagers are going out of taste. Paul John and Amrut broke the single malt barrier. Taking a leaf away from these success stories lately, few Indian craft gin distillers launched its first homegrown gin. Soon many more local distilleries came to the party. Inspiration from our national leaders about being aatmanirbhar (transl. self-dependent) and going vocal for local, maybe?
What is a craft gin?
Craft gins are produced in local distilleries in small batches by usually sourcing their ingredients locally. Controlled production quantity to retain to offer true craft gins as pleasant as possible.
The difference with significant retail players
It’s about the real passion for the people behind the gin and the individual care. Utmost attention that goes into recipes, sourcing ingredients, production, and so on. Unlike big faceless brands, it’s about putting a face and name behind every craft gin bottle. True craftsmanship is being able to work with local producers and stories behind building their small businesses.
Keeping it authentic
Craft gin is still a gin, and a craft distiller will be loyal to the roots of gin’s heritage and style. To be called a gin, the predominant flavour must always be juniper. The London Dry Gin recipe is the most popular recipe for the gin. Still, the craft distillers can’t stop reinventing their methods and experimenting with exciting new infused flavour combinations. It is a never-ending selection of exciting new tastes to try.
Introduction of gin in India
In the 18th century, gin made its way to the UK as a low-cost drink of choice, and a quarter of London households were making their gin. Controversy exists about the origin of gin, whether by Italian monks in the 11th century or by a Dutch physician who used it for medicinal purposes back in the 16th century.
But there is no second opinion about how British soldiers and officials of the East India Company got the taste of gin. To survive malaria during the 19th century, British soldiers made extremely bitter quinine more palatable by mixing it with gin and carbonated tonic. Soon it found its way into the gentleman’s club as the Gin & Tonic (G&T).
Indian Craft Gin Brands
India’s first gin brands to spearhead the gin-revolution by Nao Spirits. The only London Dry Gin made in India. Copper pot distilled with botanicals sourced from India and around the world.
This gin has juniper berries from Macedonia, citrus from Spain, angelica root from Germany, and more. As for Indian flavours, there is coriander, fennel seeds, chamomile, ginger, and lemongrass. Feel fresh lemon peel on the nose and a zing of ginger on the finish.
ABV: 42.8% | Price: ₹850 to ₹ 1950 (approx.) for 750 ml
The world’s first Himalayan Dry Gin was created by Nao Spirits again. Made with juniper sourced from the Himalayas, botanicals like turmeric, mango, ginger, cardamom, coriander seeds, gondhoraj limes, and almonds plucked purposefully from within the country.
Make your taste buds travel from pine forests in the Himalayas, venture along the banks of the Hooghly River, through the monsoon forests of Tamil Nadu, and finally end their journey in the lush spice farms of Goa.
ABV: 43% | Price: ₹ 2200 to ₹ 3200 (approx.) for 750 ml
Stranger & Sons
Made at Third Eye Distillery, Stranger & Sons gin hails from Goa. Imported juniper berries and angelica from Macedonia. Sourced rest all other botanicals from local.
Gondhraj lemons come from Kolkata, oranges from Nagpur, and sweet lime from Goa. Source coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, cassia bark, and mace from local spice farms of Goa. It has an aromatic, citrusy character with warm notes of spices throughout the palate.
ABV: 42.8% | Price: ₹1900 (approx.) for 750 ml
The gin is made in small batches at the Rampur Distillery. The distillery is one of the oldest in India at the foothills of the Himalayas. The bottle is beautiful, chunky, and made of black frosted glass with a raised gold emblem – it is a real work of art.
The distillery uses eleven botanicals are in this gin, seven grown in India – like coriander, vetiver, orange peel, cubeb berries, lemongrass, Darjeeling green tea, and lemon peel. The remaining imported botanicals are juniper, liquorice root, angelica, and caraway seeds.
ABV: 43% | Price: ₹ 3500 (approx.) for 750 ml
A one-of-a-kind gin, we have India’s very first single-shot distilled ‘hemp’ gin. Hemp seed is super versatile and used in various other products like paper, textiles, bioplastics, and now gin!
The spirit comprises nine botanicals: hemp, Himalayan juniper, coriander, lavender, rosemary, caraway seeds, cinnamon, lemongrass, and butterfly pea flower.
ABV: 40% | Price: ₹ 1000 (approx.) for 750 ml
Terai is a “grain-to-glass” Indian craft gin made in Rajasthan in the style of a London Dry Gin by India Craft Spirit Co.
The gin is one-shot distilled in a handmade German copper still and infused with 11 botanicals, including juniper berries, tulsi, coriander, fennel, lemon peel, orange peel, lavender, rose, angelica and orris root.
ABV: 42.8% | Price: ₹ 2000 (approx.) for 750 ml
Pumori’s 100 per cent home-grown gin features 12 botanicals sourced from the Indian subcontinent. They are produced in 200 litres small batches and distilled in Fullarton Distilleries, located in the woodlands of Candepar in Goa. The gin is named after Mount Pumori, also known as the Mount Everest’s daughter, primarily because the juniper used in the gin is from Mount Pumori.
The crystal clear liquid contains a melange of varied flavours, including orange peel, aniseed, vanilla, liquorice, nutmeg, cardamom, lemon peel, Himalayan juniper, almond, and cinnamon, among others. The gin has a burst of cardamom in every sip.
ABV: 40% | Price: ₹ 1750 (approx.) for 750 ml
All images: Courtesy brands
How is the future?
And now, with Samsara, Tickle, and Jin Jiji set to be on shelves soon, they will write a new chapter in Indian craft gin evolution. India is observing a boom for craft gin expecting to reach sales up to over three million a year by 2023.
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