At least a dozen indie gin brands are making a splash in bars and homes. How many of these have you tried already?
The gin revolution that came to India in 2018 has transformed the bar industry in the country. What started as a single local gin producer from Goa — Greater Than gin from Nao Spirits’ — has laid the bedrock for a host of gins to enter the market, and usher in a gin revolution that we’re still drinking out of. You might have tried Greater Than without even knowing it, since it is the pouring gin of choice at most bars across states where the gin is available.
You might have also had Stranger & Sons at a friend’s place in some other state since it’s widely available. In any case, we’re going to assume that you’ve already tried Greater Than and Stranger & Sons gins since they’ve been on the market for a while now. Here, we plan to expand your gin palate with a fresh batch of new Indian gins, and find a new favourite before the year ends.
GREATER THAN’S JUNIPER BOMB
Yes, we said we won’t mention Greater Than but this is a different gin altogether. The Juniper Bomb version of Greater Than has thrice the usual amount of well, juniper, the main botanical in any gin. Suffice to say that if you’re looking for a true-blue gin that smells and tastes of juniper all the way through, you can hardly do better than the Greater Than Juniper Bomb. PS: They’re currently retailing their last batch of Juniper Bomb, so better hurry, and get your hands on this one as soon as possible.
Seqer is one of the most recent additions on the Indian gin scene. This gin celebrates its origin state of Goa by adding cashew nuts to its list of botanicals that also includes cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary, and nutmeg. It’s also a way of paying homage to founder Adriel Sequiera, whose father began the family-owned alcohol business by brewing cashew feni, among other spirits.
AMRUT NILGIRIS INDIAN DRY GIN
Amrut Nilgiris Indian Dry Gin comes from the house of Amrut Distilleries, one of India’s foremost whisky makers. This one has some unusual botanicals that makes it a compelling recommendation. There’s no other gin on this list that has betel leaf and brewed Nilgiris tea as botanicals, making this a must-try to see how it impacts your palate. Angelica, orris root, lemongrass, coriander seeds, nutmeg, and mace, apart from juniper berries, make up the other botanicals in this very special Indian dry gin.
Tickle Gin, from the house of Adinco Distilleries that’s best known for making Tinto Heritage Feni, is a cold-pressed gin that seeks to trap the flavours of its botanicals in the gin. These flavours bloom when added with a mixer, revealing hints of pepper, cardamom, and best of all, raw mango, which gives this gin a distinct pickled aftertaste.
Terai Gin is produced in Rajasthan, and follows a unique grain-to-glass philosophy made in the London dry gin style. Moreover, the bottle’s shape is a nod to India’s rich heritage of handicrafts and temple architecture, making it something you’re unlikely to throw out even after you’ve savoured all the gin in the bottle. The gin itself is made using rice grain spirit along with botanicals such as tulsi, lavender, coriander, juniper berries, rose, lemon, orange peels, almonds, and fennel, among others. From the bottle and stopper inspired by the country’s heritage to botanicals that you can savour over endless G&Ts, Terai Gin is as Indian as it can get.
PUMORI SMALL BATCH GIN
While most gins in this collection are meant to be added with mixers and enjoyed, a couple of them hold the distinction of being sipping gins. Pumori Small Batch Gin, with its old school water flask-shaped bottle, is one such gin that you can enjoy on the rocks, with just ice. Named after Mount Pumori in the Himalayan range of mountains, this gin contains Himalayan juniper for an extra kick, along with botanicals such as vanilla, liquorice, rosemary, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander seeds, and aniseed. In fact, the aniseed flavour acts as a binding agent, making you savour this small-batch gin as it gently rolls off your mouth, one great sip after another.
CLEARLY GOOD GIN
Clearly Good Gin is a rare example of a gin that’s priced cheaper than most cocktails. Even so, it has a party trick up its sleeve as it utilises the ouzo effect to turn the blue spirit pink when you add tonic water to it. Pretty neat trick, right? It’s priced at INR 245 for a 350ml bottle in Goa, making it possibly the cheapest gin in the world, if not India. If you’re wondering how Clearly Good Gin gets its blue colour, that’s because of the butterfly pea flower that’s used as a botanical along with green chillies, Himalayan juniper, and few others.
From the same makers as Clearly Good Gin, GinGin is India’s first hemp gin that also comes in an amazing clear bottle that highlights the clear spirit inside. Other botanicals include juniper, coriander, lavender, cinnamon, lemongrass, rosemary, caraway seeds, and butterfly pea flower. GinGin tastes great with a mixer like tonic water or ginger beer even as the hemp takes a backseat, so you get the whole burst of botanicals in your mouth when you taste the spirit.
Another gin with hemp added as a botanical, Samsara Gin has stayed low-key even as newer gins have taken over bars and homes. Still, there are those who swear by Samsara’s 11-botanical mix and the rounded flavour profile of the gin that is more juniper-forward as compared to some other gins on this list. Grab a bottle of Samsara Gin and enjoy its earthy and citrusy notes with a mild hint of spiciness when added to a mixer.
A new addition to the indie gin scene, Matinee Gin is the brainchild of Anjali Shahi and Lavanya Jayashankar, two college friends-turned-business partners. Matinee Gin is particularly attractive for those seeking a completely new flavour profile compared to most other gins. That’s because this gin uses lesser-known Indian botanicals such as Goan peppercorn, white turmeric, and snake saffron, to name a few, in its gin. With an intense aroma and a superb blend of citrusy earthiness on the palate, Matinee Gin is definitely one to try.
Hapusa Gin, from the guys behind Greater Than gin, has been around for a long time as well, but somehow doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. In my opinion, it is still the best Indian gin that you can try in the market. A sipping gin, Hapusa is a burst of flavours in your mouth even as its Himalayan juniper, mixed with citrusy and spicy notes, make an explosion of happiness when you sip it ice cold and on the rocks. Don’t let Hapusa Gin’s price deter you from the best gin experience you can have.
THE CITY OF PINK
The newest addition to homegrown Indian gins, The City of Pink is the brainchild of Spaceman Spirits Lab that also produces Samsara Gin. Essentially, this experimental release is the same gin as Samsara, but with the addition of fresh floral extracts and summer berries that give it its distinct pink colour. The City of Pink is best enjoyed with a topping of sparkling wine to bring out its summer flavours in a bubbly setting.