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The Goa-based spirits startup that kickstarted the craft gin craze

Nao Spirits CEO: Success in craft spirits is about balancing great pricing and great quality.

February 28, 2021 / 10:38 AM IST
Anand Virmani, CEO and co-founder, NAO Spirits, with copper pot still.

Anand Virmani, CEO and co-founder, NAO Spirits, with copper pot still.

Back in 2015, gin was a fuddy-duddy drink one encountered in gymkhanas. Today, craft gin is everywhere, and a fair bit of credit for kickstarting the gin craze—and riding the global wave— should deservedly go to Nao Spirits.

Launched in 2015, Nao Spirits recently raised $2million as Series A investment from a boutique VC firm, existing investors, and family offices. The Goa-based startup employs about 30 people, and its brands Greater Than (launched in 2017) and Hapusa (2018) are sold in eight cities across India and 14 countries. As the brand enters its sixth year, its co-founder and CEO Anand Virmani shares with Moneycontrol the challenges of creating a category, finding the balance between price and quality and the next big thing in craft spirits.

Demanding space

If someone were to ask me for advice on getting into craft spirits today, I’d dissuade them from doing it. Sure, there is the joy of creating something one can touch and feel in this age of technology and apps but the liquor industry in India is a hugely demanding space. There’s just a lot of upheaval annually and laws with regard to excise, labelling and permissions keep changing. Being in this space has added years to my life.