In India, whiskey and rum have always been the ‘cool kids’ with immense popularity and quite the fan following. Gin, on the other hand, has always been the quiet and shy kid who sits in the back of the class, often underappreciated. 2020 is when this changes.
At merely 24, Shubham Khanna is spearheading this very change. Now the founder of GinGin, which is India’s First Hemp Craft Gin, he devoted the last two years of his life to creating and perfecting a gin that would prove enjoyable to even hardcore whiskey drinkers. In fact, his inspiration sparked when he was singled out for drinking gin by his whiskey-drinking friends. Manufactured entirely in Goa, GinGin sourced all its botanicals and ingredients locally from India. “Because of the lockdown, I had to change all my plans. Whatever local ingredients were available to purchase online, I ordered them all,” says Shubham as he also emphasises that he is glad that it worked out this way. From the distillation apparatus to what was fed into it, GinGin is all homegrown.
Several attempts and 40 recipes later, the exquisite signature of GinGin was found. Himalayan juniper, coriander, lavender, rosemary, caraway seeds, cinnamon, lemongrass, butterfly pea flower, and hemp make up this crystal clear gin. However, hemp is probably what piques the interest of most, and rightly so. “Around the 12th or 13th recipe I threw in the hemp seeds which I had actually just bought as a salad topper,” explains Shubham. Much to his surprise as well, the flavour delivered beautifully and blended well with the other botanicals. The decision to keep the hemp in was instantaneous. Giving GinGin an edge over the rest, hemp proves to be their biggest selling point. After all, it is India’s first hemp craft Gin. Admitting to the knowledge of the Indian crowd being possibly hesitant toward anything hemp-related, Shubham says that he made GinGin with the idea of a new India in mind, not what India used to be. Hemp was a win-win situation as it provides great depth of flavour and no doubt, sets GinGin a class apart in the market.
But is hemp legal in India? Yes, absolutely. Does it cause any effects such as that of cannabis? None at all. The seeds are a part of the Cannabis Sativa plant that contains none to little Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance that produces psychoactive effects. Even if they wanted to, GinGin would be unable to provide you with the mind-altering feeling that Cannabis provides. In fact, it is high in proteins, fibre and healthy fatty acids. Completely legal and approved by authorities in India, hemp seeds are no different to, say, chia seeds.
GinGin is all things India without being over-the-top, in-your-face Indian about it. Even the bottle has a sense of mystique to it, with its extremely minimalist design and sleek look. “We’re fully homegrown, but we want to stay away from the stereotypical mandalas and elephant designs,” says Shubham. A bottle that is sure to catch your eye is open to interpretation, except that the bottle contains, well, gin. It is almost as if the bottle stands tall amongst its competitors knowing that it is definitely drawing all the attention toward it. In a rare mix of descriptive words, the bottle manages to be cool, laidback, and forthcoming all at once.
GinGin is made using the single-shot distillation method wherein some of the botanicals are mixed in a pot with the base spirit, are allowed to macerate, and then distilled. Proofed with water and later bottled with the desired strength, the process comes to a close. Although time-consuming, GinGin produces high-quality spirit in small batches. Accompanied by the vapour infusion method, where the botanicals are infused with the vapour of the spirit, GinGin delivers an intricate yet enjoyable blend of flavours.
“I had no idea about gin. I’m not from the industry and neither are my parents,” confesses Shubham. Multiple tastings later, GinGin came to be. Although a few of his own friends were treated as guinea pigs in the experiment stage, Shubham is more than satisfied with the results. With the support of his parents by his side, Shubham continued to work on the gin till perfection, with the occasional, “Now make some whiskey” from his father.
A young and vibrant addition to Indian gin, GinGin introduces an opportunity for Indians to create their own story with their open-minded and inclusive values. It seems as if it is now time for gin to move to the ‘cool kids’ table.
Find more about GinGin here.
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