“In the last four to five years some wonderful gins have been produced in India setting off a gin revolution,” said Gagan Sharma, Managing Director, Indulge India, (who is also the tastings co-ordinator for the Sommelier India Tasting Panel (SITP) Tastings) as he welcomed eighty-one participants to the Mumbai edition of the #IndianGinTrail, held on 30th June, conducted via Zoom..
A few days earlier we had received a tasting kit with nine small bottles of gin only identified by their individual labels from A to I; a bottle of Indian Tonic Water from Sepoy & Co; and a fragrant pouch of juniper and a set of cards (with tasting notes and other details from the producers of the gins and the tonic water) in a lovely jute bag. The courier was followed by a message from Gagan with the Zoom meeting details and instructions: “Don’t get tasting just yet” and to “Stay curious” till the meeting!
With the bottles, tonic water and snifter glasses in place we logged in and the meeting got started on the dot. Gagan spoke about the production of quality gins and their variety in India in the past few years, of tasting gins neat and then with tonic water and of the response to tastings being personal.
Moving from A to I, the participants tasted, made and shared notes, while Gagan peppered the proceedings with information and interesting insights into the production of gin, types of flavours (alcohol solvent and water solvent), cold compounded gins, the flavour of juniper in gins, the variety of botanicals that go into producing gins, the wonderful variety available in India, and the genesis of gin and tonic. The tasting of neat gins was followed by tasting each of them with Indian Tonic Water from Sepoy & Co. It was fascinating how their flavours opened up and delighted the palate.
With the tasting over, it was time to reveal the names of the spirits. The first was a cold compounded gin with artificial flavourings “one that India recognized as `gin’ for the longest time and is now moving away from”, said Gagan. The eight premium gins, distilled with real botanicals of provenance, were Greater Than, Greater Than Juniper Bomb, Nilgiris, Terai, Stranger & Sons, Samsara, Pumori and Hapusa.
Gagan invited the Gin producers and ambassadors to share a snapshot of their experience of stepping into the industry. Angad Soni from Sepoy & Co; Anand Virmani from Nao Spirits (producers of Greater Than and Greater Than Juniper Bomb); Rakshit N Jagdale from Amrut Distilleries (producers of Nilgiris); Karina Aggrawal, VP, The India Craft Sprit Co (producers of Terai); Vidur Gupta, Stranger & Sons; Aditya Aggarwal, Samsara; Shivam Naik, Pumori; and Anand Virmani, Hapusa, shared their thoughts giving us a view of gins and the industry from the producer’s angle.
Gagan wrapped up the interesting, informative and fun session by reiterating the potential of Indian gins internationally, given that India is the “world’s spice box”, the high quality of Indian gins already being produced and the passion of the Gin producers and ambassadors.