In just about half a decade, the homegrown gin market has grown dramatically. Although still in its nascent stage, the Indian gin industry looks poised to ‘refresh’ the entire spirits sector.
According to a report by Statista, Indian alcohol consumption was estimated to reach 6.5 billion litres by 2020. The ninth-largest consumer of alcohol in the world, Indian tipplers have long favoured spirits over any other variety, with whiskey ranking as the most preferred drink. However, a change in demographics, rise in urban populations and disposable incomes, has given rise to several interesting trends in the market. More and more Indians have started exploring clear spirits, such as gin, moving away from the traditionally-preferred dark spirits. This shift, aside from the prevalence of health consciousness among consumers, is also likely a result of an increase in younger drinkers.
The domestic gin market, practically non-existent even as recently as five years ago, is today a blossoming segment. The rising popularity of this clear spirit is evident not just in the number of homegrown brands that have mushroomed across the last few years but also in some hospitality groups investing in exclusive gin bars, which take pride in stocking Indian brands among globally-renowned gins. The numbers present enough cause for optimism too, with the market expected to grow by nearly 9 per cent across 2021-25. The current central government’s clarion call of #vocalforlocal hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with many gin makers using unique, locally-sourced ingredients such as tea, Gondhoraj lime, hemp and even tulsi.
So, “in that spirit”, let’s take a look at seven of the hottest gin brands from India.
Every conversation about Indian gin starts with this brand, owing to the fact that this was the first Indian-made London dry gin to hit the market. Started by Anand Virmani and Vaibhav Singh of Nao Spirits, this gin is made with nine botanicals sourced from across the country and world. Along with a dominant note of Juniper, this gin also contains ginger, lemongrass, fennel and chamomile.
Stranger & Sons
Launched in 2018 by the Goa-based Third Eye Distillery, Stranger & Sons was also one of the early entrants in the segment. Established by Sakshi Saigal, Rahul Mehra (founder and partner at Gateway Brewing Co) and Vidur Gupta, this gin uses ingredients from the distiller’s own garden along with unique flavours such as Gondhoraj lime.
This grass-to-bottle gin is made in Rajasthan by the India Craft Spirit Company. Distilled in a handmade German copper still, the gin is infused with 11 botanicals including lavender, rose, almonds, coriander, tulsi and fennel, among others. The packaging for the gin is also of interest, with the bottles drawing from Indian temple architecture and the stoppers designed by Channapatna artisans.
Yet another product from Nao Spirits, this is the world’s first gin to use Himalayan juniper alongside ingredients such as mango, turmeric and almonds, among others. While Greater Than has a citrus-y finish to it, this one is more pronounced on spices.
Yet another Goa-based brand, GinGin is the brainchild of 24-year-old Shubham Khanna. Aside from being India’s only single-shot vapour infused gin, it uses a unique ingredient – hemp. The creator says hemp’s savoury and oily taste will lend a unique taste profile.
From one of India’s oldest distillers, Radico Khaitan, Jaisalmer was launched in India in 2019 and in the same year, was ranked Best in Asia 2019 by The Gin Guide Awards, UK. The gin uses 11 botanicals, including Darjeeling green tea leaves, cubeb berries, lemongrass, liquorice and caraway seeds.
Yet another Goa-based venture, Jin Jiji uses Himalayan juniper along with tulsi leaves and locally-sourced cashews. Yet another ingredient in the Jin Jiji Darjeeling variant is black tea leaves sourced all the way from Bengal. Launched in 2019, although it is manufactured primarily for export, this gin is available at select locations in the country.