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Yuzu and Indian spices mingle in this Indo-Japanese gin

Made in Goa's East Side Distillery, Doja uses yuzu, sansho peppers, hinoki, coriander, pepper, and cardamom. It is available in Goa for Rs2,050 a bottle.

December 05, 2021 / 04:57 PM IST
Jai Anand at the East Side Distillery in Goa (left); and Doja's apothecary-style bottle with holographic foil was designed by a UK firm.

Jai Anand at the East Side Distillery in Goa (left); and Doja's apothecary-style bottle with holographic foil was designed by a UK firm.

From sushi to Kikkoman soy sauce and varieties of sake, several Japanese food and beverage products have made their way into India and gained wide acceptance over the years. Jai Anand, founder, Doja, decided to take this association a step further by launching Doja in Goa. (The rest of India will have to wait till early 2022, to sip this full-bodied gin with a citrusy aftertaste.)

Crafted by a master-distiller in Wakayama, Japan, and produced in the Goa-based East Side Distillery, Doja uses Yuzu, sansho peppers, and hinoki, combined with coriander, pepper, and cardamom from India. These botanicals lend a citrus note to the gin.

With gin drinkers being experimental and seeking new experiences and taste, there is ample opportunity for brands to be adventurous. “As a gin and sake drinker myself, I saw potential in this market, specifically in the premium local segment. The idea purely came during the lockdown, when I thought about combining the flavours of Japan and India. I worked with a distillery in Japan to bring my vision to life. The millennials today are exploring gin because it is easy on the throat, refreshing, and can be had at different times of the day,” says Anand.

Also read: A ‘Goan’ gin and a rice whisky: New additions for your home bar

Spices meet botanicals


Gin is always made with a neutral spirit combined with distilled water and that’s what Doja uses as base. But the magic comes from the mix of botanicals, the distillation process, the recipe, and having an experienced master distiller. Jai ensured he ticked all these boxes with Doja.

Explains Jai, “India has great spices and botanicals. Japan, besides having great botanicals, has built a reputation for high-quality spirits globally. The idea, therefore, came together to create something unique – the world’s first Indo-Japanese gin.”

Japanese gins are usually mild and soft, but strong in alcohol. The obligatory juniper is accompanied by exciting botanicals such as ginger, native herbs, rare citrus fruits like Dai Dai, Yuzu and Kabosu, green Matcha and Gyokuro tea, stem, blossom and leaves of the cherry blossom.

Given the superiority of Indian spices, Jai felt, these would lend themselves perfectly to a gin where Japanese botanicals are used. He elaborates, “Indian spices provide the structure of Doja gin. We put fennel, coriander, green cardamom and Himalayan peppermint. These help the Japanese botanicals show and work like a marvel. Our Japanese Master Distiller Tsui San determined which Indian botanicals matched with the base Japanese botanicals selected.”

Also read: A screenwriter and ad film maker join hands to create a special Indian gin

Trial shot

It took East Side Distillery 47 distillation trials to match the Japanese recipe and taste, says Jai.

Doja uses a method of distillation called single shot. Once the gin is distilled through a steaming process, it is blended with demineralized water to a bottling strength of 42.8% ABV. This method retains essential oils from the botanicals and gives the drink a silky mouthfeel.

Small batch gin is always handmade, using equipment designed over centuries, the old-fashioned way. “We use a copper still from Holstein, Germany, one of the traditional manufacturers of still. Using a copper still helps in giving smoothness to the gin with no alcohol burn, as you sip. The Head Distiller, like ours in Goa, then personally checks each distillation to determine what gets bottled,” explains Anand.

A sip and drink format beverage, Doja is best enjoyed on the rocks, with a dash of water or soda, according to Jai.

Copper still from Holstein, Germany Copper still from Holstein, Germany.

Naturally, Goa

Not only is Goa an important market, but it sits between two other key markets Mumbai and Bangalore. “Today, Goa is a melting pot of India where millions of Indian and International tourists come. We want to be part of that experience that they take back home, and become our customer base in their cities,” says Jai.

Influenced by Japan’s art, design, and sense of futurism, the package design of Doja is consistent with the young branding and has been worked upon by UK designers. Jai says, it has “a holographic foil which stands out and a bottle design from an apothecary range. The bottle carries a QR tag that takes you to our website botanical page...”

Priced at Rs 2,050, Doja has begun distribution in Goa and is available at leading alcohol stores and bars across the State.

Also read: Stock your home bar with these new spirits this festive season

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Mini Ribeiro
first published: Dec 5, 2021 04:35 pm
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