April 18, 2024

The Growing Popularity of Indian Craft Gins: Exploring the Emergence, Regional Diversity, and Global Recognition in the Thriving World of Artisanal Distillation

The Growing Popularity of Indian Craft Gins

The emergence of Indian craft gin

India has a long and rich agricultural history that has produced an abundance of botanicals well suited for gin production. However, large-scale commercial gin distilling is a relatively new phenomenon in the country. For many years, Indians predominantly consumed whisky and rum instead of gin. But over the last decade, there has been a craft gin revolution sweeping across India.

Several small-batch distilleries have emerged focused on crafting nuanced gins using indigenous Indian botanicals. Pioneers like Greater Than gin in Goa and Jaisalmer gin in Rajasthan led the way, experimenting with local botanicals like lemongrass, cassia bark, coriander, ginger and more. Their gins highlighted how India’s varied climate and biodiversity lend itself beautifully to unique gin expressions. This ignited curiosity around Indian craft gin and its potential to showcase regional flavors.

Rise of micro-distilleries across the regions

Spurred by the growing interest, micro-distilleries started cropping up in different parts of the country each exploring the native botanicals of their areas. In the Northeast, groups like NEG Distilleries and Spirit from the East tapped into herbs and plants of the seven sister states to craft unusual and exotic gins.

In the Himalayan foothills, distilleries like J&K Distilleries sourced constituents like cherry bark, nettle, sorrel and wild peonies. The coastal state of Goa unsurprisingly turned to lemongrass, cashew and tropical fruits in gins by Paul John and Rock Chop or Rum. Even arid regions like Rajasthan proved fertile ground for unique gins using native ingredients like camel thorn and wild scrub.

Indian gin  reflecting regional flavors

This diversification meant Indian craft gin was no longer a monolith but a wide spectrum reflecting varied regional cuisines, cultures and climates. Gins became an edible art form subtly conveying flavor memories of places. For example, a sip of Greater Than’s Goan Gin transports one to the lush green landscapes and fiery coasts through layered notes of lemongrass, black pepper, cashew and citrus.

Similarly, a Gin Butler’s Assamese Gin evokes the Northeast with its pronounced licorice, lemongrass and wild ginger notes. Each bottle serves as a gateway to appreciate India’s cultural wealth through the lens of indigenous botanicals and native skills of distillation. Local gins also became a source of community pride and platform to preserve traditional knowledge and ecologically sustainable practices.

Exciting experimentations and innovations

As experimentation grows, distillers are further pushing boundaries to craft exciting new genre of Indian gins. For example, Greater Than recently developed a first-of-its kind coffee infused Indian Dry Gin highlighting unique coffee varietals. Similarly, NEG recently launched a smoked tea gin made with smoked black tea. Distilleries are also innovating beyond the London Dry style to explore expressions like Indian Old Tom gins with a sweeter profile capitalizing on seasonal fruits.

In the foothills of Kumaon, distillery Beyond the Horizon is aging their gins in Indian oak casks breathing new layers of complexity. Even mainstream players like Bacardi are getting into the act with their new indie craft label Bombay Bramble infusing gins with desi flavors. There are also exciting collaborations between mixologists and distillers developing exceptional gin-based cocktails highlighting the versatility of Indian craft gins.

Cementing its place on the global stage

The innovation and passion of indie distillers has put Indian craft gin on the global map receiving many awards and accolades at international spirits competitions. Discerning global bartenders and buyers are taking notice of their creativity and quality. Major global liquor e-tailers now stock several Indian craft gins allowing them to reach consumers worldwide. With the continued rising interest, Indian gin is cementing its place as a must-try niche category amongst global spirits aficionados keen to explore new frontiers.

The craft distilling revolution has repositioned gin as a spirit symbolizing India’s rich natural and cultural resourcefulness when blended with technical skills. With the diversity of indigenous botanicals still largely untapped, the future looks bright for continuous new innovations and evolving gin styles from this thriving scene. Craft distilling is demonstrating how preserving tradition and innovating can beautifully co-exist to project India’s vibrant heritage on the global stage.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it