This blog turned 9 years old earlier this month, and since I haven’t posted for about 6 months, I thought I’d remedy that! I love trying out different gins and making cocktails, like the Breakfast Martini in the photo below. While gin has been “in” over the past few years, I had written about the imminent gin revolution in India for Mint Lounge way back in 2017. That was when there were no Indian-made gins in the market. But so much has changed in the last 4 years. There are about a dozen craft gins available in India now, many of which can hold their own against international brands.
This weekend, I went on a fun Indian Gin Trail (on Zoom) with Indulge India. It was a blind tasting of 7 gins led by Sommelier Gagan Sharma who curates these educational experiences at Indulge. Of the 7 gins, 6 were craft gins and one was an industrial, cold-compound gin. The last one was pretty atrocious but a good way to understand how far Indian gins have come in terms of quality and taste. Here’s what I thought about these 6 Indian gins (listed alphabetically).
Greater Than London Dry Gin
Greater Than is India’s first craft gin, made in Goa by Nao Spirits. It’s a lovely, citrus-forward London Dry Gin that pairs beautifully with tonic water. It’s sort of a blank canvas that let’s you play with mixers and make some great cocktails (which is how I have usually had this gin).
Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin
Also made by Nao Spirits, Hapusa was a revelation! Named after the Sanskrit word for juniper, this is a highly aromatic gin with a big personality. Himalayan juniper berries give this gin a bold, earthy flavour while mango, turmeric, and coriander bring the distinctive Indian notes. It’s a fabulous sipping gin but the addition of tonic water enhances its aromatics, especially the woody notes.
Pumori Small Batch Gin
Pumori is also made in Goa and also uses Himalayan juniper making it an earthy gin with mossy and pine notes. I preferred it as a sipping gin and felt that adding tonic water sort of changed the aromatics a bit. Gagan mentioned that it would make a great Negroni, which is my favourite cocktail, so I’m going to try it out soon!
A highly aromatic, floral gin, Samsara has distinct notes of cardamom (which may not be everybody’s cup of tea). Adding tonic water definitely opened up its aromatics but suppressed the cardamom.
Stranger & Sons Gin
Stranger & Sons is the gin that I have had the most and I love it! I could recognise its heady spicy notes with the first sip. It also turned out to be one of the crowd favourites with most of the 20-odd participants in the blind tasting giving it top billing (along with Hapusa). The gin is made in Goa and its botanicals include home-grown pepper, lemon, coriander, and a mix of citrus peels including Gondhoraj lemons from Kolkata.
Terai Indian Dry Gin
With fennel and basil as dominant notes, Terai is a soft, smooth gin that would make a great martini. Even as a gin & tonic, its flavours open up and jump out. Made in Rajasthan and launched last year (in the middle of the first COVID-19 lockdown!), Terai uses rice grain spirit as its base (possibly explaining its ‘softness’). It comes in a beautiful bottle that recently bagged a Silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for Packaging Design.
While G&T is always a classic, why not try a few gin cocktails? Here are 2 easy cocktail recipes.
Grapefruit Gin Fizz
- 50 ml gin + 50 ml grapefruit juice
- Mix in a glass, add ice, and top with tonic water
- Garnish with a sprig of rosemary
- 50 ml gin + 25 ml pomegranate juice + 25 ml sweetened lime juice
- Shake with ice and strain into a glass
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and a slice of lime
Have you tried any of these Indian gins? Which one is your favourite?