City of gins: Once unfashionable, now an exotic drink!

Once considered unfashionable, gin is back on restaurant tables and bar counters. Versatile versions and new-age avatars have fuelled the consumption of the classic alcoholic drink

Gin is now considered an aromatic concoction for youngsters as well as the educated lot.
Gin is now considered an aromatic concoction for youngsters as well as the educated lot.

Shaken, stirred, straight up or on the rocks—that’s gin for you. Once considered unfashionable and something that only the older generation would consume, the classic alcoholic drink is now back on the tables of restaurants and clubs. Versatile versions and new-age avatars have only fuelled its consumption across all demographics.

Gin is now considered an aromatic concoction for youngsters as well as the educated lot. “It wasn’t the case in India until five years ago. Once a staple two decades ago, it had lost its charm under dark liquor. Today, it’s an exotic drink. The gin revolution is back, especially with locally-made craft gin brands,” says Delhi-based mixologist Sanchayan Jana.

As a result, local yet robust flavours and exotic ingredients have caught the fancy of the educated and young upper-class Indians who once loved their brown spirits. For this reason, gin stands out from other beverages, especially vodka. “The notes are light and are a refreshing cocktail for a sundowner. Vodka is neutral and doesn’t have much to express while gin can be played with flavours, botanicals and best explored among women that’s why people prefer gin over vodka. Flavours can be pushed to new and smooth innovations and it’s a drink for all ages,” says Jana.

Ever since India started making quality gin, the category has made a vodka lover turn to some rewarding flavours. Ingredients like clean Himalayan juniper and fresh lemon peel, and ginger infuse a wonderful blend of hand-picked Indian botanicals to this contemporary spirit. In India, Nao Spirits & Beverages, a homegrown craft gin produced its first Greater Than gin in 2017 and Hapusa in 2018. Since then, brands like Stranger & Sons, Jaisalmer Gin, Samsara, Gin Gin, and the recently launched Goa’s first-ever Indo-Japanese Gin, Doja have stepped up the gin quotient.

Greater Than has seven botanicals— lemongrass, ginger, chamomile, fennel, Spanish orange peel, German angelica and Italian orris root, apart from juniper and coriander seed. Hapusa is the first gin to be made with the Himalayan juniper berry, along with other distinctive ingredients such as gondhoraj lime, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, almond and mango.

Globally, in the case of Hendrick’s Gin produced by William Grant & Sons, it is the most unusual premium gin distilled in Scotland with curious, yet marvellous, infusions of cucumber and Bulgarian rose. “Gin category has become a mainstay for gin culture in every country around the world. It’s a beverage for those delighted by the unusual and the experience,” says Anish Arora, brand manager, William Grant & Sons, an independent, family-owned premium spirits company with brands like Drambuie, Hendrick’s Gin, Monkey Shoulder. Hendrick’s Gin limited edition launches have gained popularity among Indian palates. Launched in 2019, Midsummer Solstice is a small batch limited edition gin that is delightfully floral, perfect for day-casions such as brunch.

According to 2021 IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, gin is forecasted to increase 4.5% CAGR in 2021-2025, driven notably by Brazil, South Africa, and Russia. Global vodka volume was flat in 2020 and is expected to remain so through to 2025. In total, spirits are expected to grow 0.6% globally this year, and 0.8% CAGR in 2021-2025.

Gin may be a small category in India but is gradually converting a whisky drinker or introducing the category to a new-age drinker. A few factors that fuel the growth of gin in the Indian market are disposable income, changing psychographics and demographics.

“Young entrepreneurs who familiarise with gin during their stays abroad, experiment with local flavours and millennials are ready to experiment. Mixologists are well versed with concoctions and blends and day drinking is more popular. This has led to larger interest in the spirit,” says Arora.

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