An exploration of Indian-made foreign liquor
Have you tried these home-grown artisanal foreign liquor brands?
How it all began
There’s a wave of artisanal Indian alcohol brands being crafted, distilled and bottled all over the country. According to the GFTR 2022, the wave began with craft gin, expanded into whiskey then rum and beyond. The excitement around artisanal liquor has been growing in the Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) segment with a definitive shift towards made in India. From premium single malts bred in the Himalayas to vodka crafted from basmati rice, infused swith some very Indian botanicals, Indian entrepreneurs and distillers have truly upped their game.
The experts at GFTR expect to see explosive growth in the segment from homegrown Indian brands, even as indigenous Indian spirits like feni and mahua, once categorised as country liquor, are gaining a strong footing in national and global markets.
According to the Beer Market in India 2021 report published in April 2021, craft beers will grow at a rate of 108% by 2025 . In fact, the craft spirits market size is anticipated to annually grow at 25.33% during the forecast period 2020-2025. The breweries and homegrown alcohol brands are moving over from Old Monk and Port Wines, and are now focusing on the evolving taste of the premium segment.
As we approach the year-end festivities and the season of merry house parties, there is no better time than now to go local! Here are some home-grown liquor brands you need to stock up on to wow your party guests!
In the quest to give India its own premium vodka, founder and CEO Varun Jain tried hundreds of recipes till he landed on the one, using homegrown local produce and processes. The range of Smoke vodka is distilled five times using charcoal filtration. It uses the finest Indian basmati grains for distillation, resulting in an ultra-pure, gluten-free and vegan spirit. The brand has two variants – Smoke Lab Classic and Smoke Lab Aniseed. The Classic is intense and complex with a smooth finish, with fresh nutty aromas and subtle citrus hints and can be enjoyed neat, on-the-rocks or with a mixer of your choice. The Aniseed version is a playful exploration that pays homage to the much-loved Indian herb saunf (fennel), it's a delicate mix of fennel and liquorice notes.
Mead is a gluten-free alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with various fruits and spices. A garage project in 2014 to Asia's and India's first Meadery in 2018 – this is the journey of Rohan Rehani and Nitin Vishwas and the creation of Moonshine. Meads are the oldest and the most versatile drink known to mankind, and Moonshine's mission is to bring back the elixir of the Gods (ambrosia) to this century’s lovers of all things craft. Their USP is the ingredients that are continually experimented with, to bring fresh varieties of meads that takes one’s palate on a delightful journey. The key ingredient, honey, is responsibly and organically sourced straight from the beekeepers. The honey comes from the hills of Uttarakhand to the forests of Nilgiri. Moonshine Meadery offers various unique flavours of mead from bourbon oaked apple to chocolate orange and grilled pineapple.
Nilgiri Dry Gin
Nilgiris Indian Dry Gin marks Amrut Distilleries’ foray into the craft gin business. Amrut Distilleries are renowned for their award-winning Indian single malts. Handcrafted at the Bengaluru distillery in copper pot stills sourced locally, the gin is made using the freshest botanicals from the pristine Nilgiris (Blue) mountains in the western ghats of India. The maceration and distillation are skilfully performed in copper pot stills with juniper berries, coriander, lemongrass, angelica, orris root, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and tea. Betel leaf, sourced from in and around Mysore, adds a mellow spiciness to the gin. The gin has flavourful notes of nutmeg, juniper berries, betel leaf, citrus, and a surprise finish of brewed tea.
Forest Wine Barna
Bringing out the flavours of the Himalayan forests, Forest Wine Barna is made with hand-picked local produce, sourced from the local communities in Himachal Pradesh, making Barna, a true child of the Himalayan Mountains. Barna is a Pahari word for Wild Ferns, a perfect expression for its approach, simplicity and sustainability – embraced as touchstones to create sophisticated wines with a real sense of place. Nature is a dominant force in their winemaking approach, as is evident from their local, fresh and organic produce. The quality of Forest Wine BARNA has always been based on a commitment to selecting the finest fruit. The wines come in three unique varieties, Honey Apple, Mellow Mango and Rhododendron.
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What are some home-grown alcohol brands you recommend? Let us know in the comments!