Think: a floral, palate-cleansing mouthfeel of paan leaf and lemon grass, the spicy under notes of coriander, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg and a herbal bouquet of juniper berries, orris root and angelica and a surprise twist of brewed tea. This is the first foray by Amrut Distilleries into the world of botanical-based craft gins. Known across the world as the makers of luxury Indian single malts, this is the brand’s latest offering in fine Indian spirits.
“We think of our distillery as a kitchen where we keep adding to our offerings. Gin was in the pipeline for the last two years and we finally felt that this was the right time to launch it,” says Thrivikram G Nikam, Joint Managing Director Amrut Distilleries.
India’s botanical gin segment might be new but it is one that is fast growing thanks to the efforts of a clutch of millennial ‘gin-preneurs’ with a strong focus on place of origin and local herbs and spices.
From the plantation to a bottle
The inception for this distilled gin was initiated by the late Shri Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, the then chief managing director of Amrut during an impromptu visit to a botanical estate in Doddabetta, 6km from Ooty. “This government-run estate had a collection of wonderful medicinal plants and they manufactured therapeutic oils and other products. This gave Mr Jagdale the idea to use these in a gin,” says Nikam.
And so began the journey across the state to source ingredients that would go into the making of a gin that belonged to this region. The betel leaves came from Mysuru, the spices from plantations scattered across Karnataka and the tea from the elevated estates in the hills. And all of it was distilled onsite at the Amrut distillery in Kambipura on Mysuru Road near Bengaluru.
For Nikhil Varma who is the master gin distiller for Amrut, travelling across the different spice plantations and tea estates of the Nilgiri hills was great inspiration as well as a unique travel experience as this was his first visit to the region. “The research included multiple trips to various parts of the Nilgiris, foraging a wide range of botanicals and distilling them individually and as a part of a compound recipe; experimenting with them in different proportions to understanding its organoleptic nuances within a broad flavour chart,” he says.
With the Amrut Nilgiris Indian Dry Gin, the shelf of Indian gins has become yet more varied and here’s looking forward to chapter two of the gin renaissance in 2021.
Currently retailing in Karnataka for ₹2,464 for 750 ml. Amrut Nilgiris gin will soon be available across India.