Travel by shaker and explore the flavors of India’s spirit world with five bottles from distillers across the country.
Records of distilling in India date back to before 200 B.C.. The country has a long history of producing a range of interesting and delicious spirits. Many of the country’s traditional spirits are difficult or impossible to find overseas, but plenty of brands make spirits for local use and export. We’ve rounded up a few of our current favorites to help you get started on your exploration of the flavors of India.
Made from basmati rice and water drawn from the Himalayans, Smoke Lab is a truly unique vodka that’s just begun distribution in the US. Currently the brand has two expressions, Classic and Aniseed. Both styles feature sweet and creamy notes from the rice. Aniseed has light notes of fennel and licorice making it a dynamic base for a wide range of cocktails.
For just over 75 years Rampur Distillery has been crafting high-end whisky in traditional copper pot stills in the foothills of the Himalayas. The collection currently includes Rampur Select, Double Cask, Asava, PX Sherry, and the recently released Signature Reserve. Thanks to the dramatic weather patterns of the area, whisky made in the region ages much quicker than elsewhere meaning you won’t find any aged expressions.
Founded in 1948, Amrut distills an incredible range of spirits including a number of whiskies, sherry, and rum. Their whisky line has won numerous awards including being named 3rd best whisky in the world (in a taste test of 4000) by The Whisky Bible in 2010. The brand has won countless awards since 2010. Amrut Greedy Angels Chairman’s Reserve 12 year is one of the only aged expressions to come out of India and has notes of barley, vanilla, lightly spiced cocoa, and touches of honey.
Back in 2015 as the spirits industry began its first “Gin-aissance” two bar owners in Delhi quickly realized that if they wanted gin, they’d have to make it themselves. After gathering up supplies, the bar owners turned distillers developed two expressions – Greater Than, a London Dry Gin and Hapusa, the worlds first Himalayan Dry Gin. Hapusa is made with Himalayan juniper and a range of botanicals native to India. The resulting spirit has notes of pine forest with a bold, earthy flavor and wildflower notes.
Based in Goa, India, the team at Third Eye Distillery has been helping build up an Indian interest in gin with their Stranger & Sons Gin. By working directly with bartenders, the team of three founders has worked hard to share their unique spirit with the word. Juniper, black pepper, nutmeg, coriander, mace, and four types of fresh citrus (along with a few other ingredients). Many of the botanicals used are sourced hyper-local, some even grown in the distillery’s own botanical garden. Additionally, the brand has been focusing on ensuring it’s made sustainably and recently invested in equipment that allowed them to go from using 10,000 liters of water to 25.