The action in the made-in-India spirits segment shows no sign of abating. Over the last year, we’ve had not just lots of gins, but also new vodkas and a craft rum saying hello to us. And in the case of the latest launch—another gin—the story starts with Adriel Sequeira.
Sequeira makes gin for some Goa-based brands and, during the lockdown last year, he told himself that he, too, ought to take a crack at it. The result, about a year or so later, is a gin that bears a truncated version of his family name and uses “typically Goan botanicals”.
“Our recipe contains 10 botanicals—juniper, nutmeg, rosemary and even cashew nuts for that very Goan feel,” says Sequeira. The 31-year-old runs Spirit de Goa, which produces a range of spirits for both domestic consumption and the export market.
Sequeira’s distillery, in Raia, in Salcette, is located bang in the middle of a cashew plantation, and it didn’t take long for him to lock in on a recipe for the gin.
“Seqer is a celebration of Goa, and the cashew nuts in the recipe emphasise that point. It delivers a nice texture to the gin,” he says. Seqer retails for Rs 1,350 in Goa and will be available in a few other states, including Maharashtra, by the year end.
Seqer, which was launched in August, closely follows in the footsteps of Matinee Gin. Launched around March 2021 by Lavanya Jayashankar and Anjali Shahi, Matinee makes use of snake saffron, white turmeric, kagzi lime and Goan peppercorn, among other ingredients, in a bid to differentiate itself from the competition. It sells for Rs 1,490 in Goa, and is expected to be available in other states later this year.
If this surfeit of new gin brands is getting to you, allow us to point you towards an interesting whisky. Diageo describes the Epitome Reserve as “India’s first-ever small batch, artisanal craft, 100% rice whisky”. That’s a lot of adjectives in one sentence, but the limited edition whisky sounds promising.
The whisky is made from rice sourced from Punjab and matured in Goa in bourbon casks for over three years, and then finished in PX sherry and cherrywood casks.
The company promises a “meticulously crafted blend of woody flavours, vibrant characters of rich dried fruits, sweet toffee caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and rich spicy notes.”
Krishna Nukala sees the introduction of the rice whisky, Diageo’s first local brand launch in India in about 20 years, as a welcome sign. “It’s great to see companies in India go the natural route instead of launching yet more molasses and synthetics-based whiskies,” says Nukala, a Hyderabad-based whisky consultant and the only Indian member of the Malt Maniacs, a highly regarded international whisky collective.
“A few years ago, Amrut had launched a grain whisky and that was outstanding. If this one is anything like that, it’s going to be interesting,” Nukala says.
The Epitome Reserve is limited to 2,000 bottles and is available in select outlets in the metros.