Gins of India: One of the best wines to select from on this world gin day
Words from Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
To celebrate World Gin Day today, let’s talk about the rise of new age gin makers and some world class gin developments taking place in India. Like many other products, gin found its way to the South Asian subcontinent with the British in the early 19th century. According to recent reports from the 21st century, India is the fifth largest market for gin – who could say no to a refreshing cocktail of fascinating new craft gins from the land of secrets and spices?
The sourcing of botanicals from the foothills of the Himalayas and the availability of aromatic ingredients have sparked interest and innovation in the gin-o sphere. Mitali Tandon, a gin connoisseur and founder of The Secret Gin Society, said, “Gin is an extremely versatile spirit and a great opportunity for bartenders to experiment and be inventive with their cocktails. It is pleasing to the palate and people enjoy discovering a brand’s history through its botanical selections, especially those that use local plants. ”
It leads to a deeper dive into the botanicals of some of India’s most popular gins on the market.
Anand Virmani, CEO and Distiller at Nao Spirits, mentions that their flagship product, Hapusa, is the world’s first gin made from indigenous Himalayan juniper berries. Hapusa is made exclusively with botanicals found in kitchens across India. The strong taste on the palate is expressed through the use of fresh turmeric, gondhoraj lime (kaffir lime) and raw mango, which makes it an ideal gin to slurp.
Another new name, Terai Gin, takes a subtle approach to distinguishing itself as a gin of Indian origin. The Swarup family who founded Terai have a long history of distillation and farming in the ‘Terai’ region of India and claim to have created an authentic dry gin of true provenance made entirely from locally sourced ingredients. It is distilled in the traditional one-shot process in a copper kettle in the family’s own distillery in Rajasthan.
Experiment and craft define today’s gins with origins in India
Experts believe that Indian consumers are now more open to trying new flavors and experimenting with new concepts. An example of this is Jin Jiji, the only gin in the world that uses cashew nuts that thrive in Goa’s tropical paradise and are an integral part of its culture. Ansh Khanna, founder of Peak Spirits, which makes Jin Jiji, said, “Our belief that tea is India’s terroir-defining botany led to Jin JiJi’s Darjeeling variant, for which we produce single estate tea from a unique estate for each batch Respectively.”
Experiment and craft define today’s gins, which originated in India. Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin presents itself as an “oasis in the desert” and as a drink “Fit for the Royalty”. The brand uses 11 botanicals, 7 of which are sourced from different parts of India itself, such as cubeb pepper, Darjeeling green tea, and lemongrass.
Natural ingredients are in the foreground in the creation of Craft Gins in India and Samsara by Spaceman Spirits. Founder and CEO Aditya Aggarwal shares the brand’s focus on a sustainable approach to gin production. “The use of hemp seeds makes the botanicals stand out from samsara, and our star ingredients rose petals, cardamom and vetiver make the gin drinking experience a delicious feast,” he added.
With robust and generous aromas, Stranger and Sons is a three-dimensional gin and has a distinctive blend of spices and botanicals that are truly Indian. Stranger and Sons pride themselves on embracing India’s wonderful foreignness and culinary legacy, which enables consumers to connect with the history and brand in an organic way.
For the epitome of gin aficionados, India now offers many ways to cheer up your spirits. Read on for a collection of some of our favorite handcrafted Indian gins.
Strangers and sons
Stranger and Sons was designed through the careful selection of inherently Indian botanicals to create a spirit that celebrates the country’s agricultural history. With robust and generous aromas, Stranger and Sons is a three-dimensional gin and has a distinctive blend of spices and botanicals that are truly Indian. Stranger and Sons pride themselves on embracing India’s wonderful foreignness and culinary heritage, which enables consumers to connect with the history and brand in an organic way.
Available in the UK through a variety of online retailers including thedrinkshop.com from £ 34.69.
Hapusa is another offering from Nao Spirits, the world’s first gin made with local juniper berries from the Himalayas. Hapusa has a distinct taste of Indian spices in a mild and attractive way. Hapusa is made exclusively with botanicals found in kitchens across India. The strong taste on the palate comes into its own thanks to the use of fresh turmeric, kaffir lime and raw mango, making it an ideal gin for long drinks.
Available in the UK at masterofmalt.com for £ 42.45.
Terai is a modern gin rooted in the traditions of the London Dry, but with an intrinsically Indian profile and character. Made in Rajasthan by a family of distillers using the traditional one-shot process, with botanicals from the Terai region at the foot of the Himalayas, this gin has a soft herbal note that is lifted by citrus peel and balanced with sweet and pine-like Himalayan juniper. It brings together the love of the land, the spirit of the craft and the know-how in an original design bottle depicting ancient Indian architecture and playful wooden stoppers handcrafted by local artisans from Channapatna, a town in Karnataka in southern India.
Availability: UK sales still open. Currently available in New Delhi and Rajasthan in India. Teraigin.com.
A classic Indian craft gin in the London Dry style that is after juniper advances and has the freshness of orange peel and fennel to make it stand out from the house of Nao Spirits.
Available in the UK at masterofmalt.com for £ 22.60.
Made from Indian plants such as Himalayan juniper and tulsi, Jin Jiji is the only gin in the world that uses cashew nuts that thrive in Goa and are an integral part of its culture. The belief that tea is India’s terroir that defines the botanical terroir led to Jin JiJi’s Darjeeling variant, for which single estate tea is sourced from a unique estate for each batch of the single estate. Available in two flavors – India Dry Gin and Darjeeling. totalwine.com.
Pumori is a small batch gin, with each batch only running on 200l. The Pot Still used to distill Pumori is a bespoke still that was built from the ground up at the Fullarton Distilleries in Goa. The botanicals come from the Indian subcontinent and have been selected to give a complex yet balanced profile, which makes Pumori an ideal drink and also a great companion for cocktails.
Availability: In India only, you can find your local store via pumorigin.com. 750ml for 30 €
Samsara is one of the first gins to be distilled in a purely women’s distillery with organic plant substances from all over India and Europe. Samsara is also one of the first gins to use hemp seeds as botanicals. From sourcing organic botanicals to using sustainable packaging materials, the brand ensures that everything at Samsara benefits the environment and the communities associated with it. Every bottle of samsara is made sustainably and ethically.
Availability: India only – Goa and Maharashtra – £ 12 – £ 25.
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, distilled in one of India’s oldest distilleries, embodies the rich heritage and history of the Indian city of Jaisalmer, known as the jewel in India’s crown. At the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, USA, he was voted one of the top 100 spirts of 2020 with 95 points. An artful representation of royalty and luxury exudes the royal roots of this gin.
Available in the UK in both On Trade and Off licenses and online via masterofmalt.com. RRP £ 35 for 70cl.