Ginvent 2019 has been full of new gins, and today we have our third Indian gin. Named after The Golden City in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer gin comes from one of the largest distillers in the country – Radico Khaitan distils over 13 million litres a month. This gin is influenced by the history of Maharajas, vibrant colours and stories of princes. They use native Indian botanicals including lemongrass, vetiver (a fragrant grass), orange and lemon peel, and darjeeling green tea alongside less native caraway seeds, cubeb pepper and Tuscan juniper added to their triple distilled grain spirit, all added into a traditional copper pot still. They say these flavours work together “like an oasis in the desert”, so – how does it taste?
Yesterday, we tried Stranger and Sons, one of the first gins coming out of India. Today, we continue with this theme and try Hapusa gin. They had the same realisation as the team behind Stranger and Sons, that lots of gins were inspired by India, but not actually coming from India. They are the only gin (correct me if I’m wrong!) to use Indian juniper berries from the Himalayas, and their name Hapusa is the Sanskrit word for juniper. Alongside the juniper, they also use a range of rich botanicals from the area – mango, almonds, limes, turmeric, ginger and cardamom along with their wheat based spirit. It sounds like an interesting blend – the sweetness of the mango paired with the warmth of the ginger and turmeric, so how does it taste?
If you think of gin, you probably don’t automatically think of India as a place of provenance. For me, last year was the year of Australian gin, 2019 seems to be the year of Indian gin. Amongst the new producers coming to market are Stranger and Sons. Hailing from the mountainous region of the Western Ghats in Goa, the three founders were inspired to make a gin after so many gins they had tried said they were inspired by India, yet were made nowhere nearby. So they decided to make their own. Their aim was to create a gin that was an instant classic with tonic, but also robust enough for bold cocktails like martinis and negronis. As well as growing their own pepper, coriander and lemons, they also use Indian bergamot, nutmeg, cassia and mace alongside the juniper to create a full flavour. They have an eye on sustainability, local women help them peel their citrus fruits, and in return take the flesh home to make their own jams and pickles that are sold in the markets. They also invested in a recycling tank which massively reduces their water usage – something that you usually need a LOT of in gin production – as well as being 100% plastic free, organic, fair trade, and installing solar panels to power their stills. So, with all that effort put into making the gin, how does it taste?