Drinking in India


Express News Service

Hailing from a family that has been involved in the agriculture, molasses, and alcohol industries of the Terai region since the 1700s, Shekhar Swarup felt a need to challenge the status quo. “It was annoying that Indian products, the IMFLs as we call them, were looked down on by connoisseurs, both here and abroad. We wanted to create a product that could match up to the best in the world, and representative of India, while also having utility in our contemporary world.

That’s how we came up with TERAI gin,” recounts the Joint Managing Director of Globus Spirits Ltd, who also manages the workings of one of the largest beverage alcohol producers in the country. TERAI, an Indian Dry Gin, released in Delhi in October 2020, and is now moving on to its next phase of expansion, heading to Rajasthan, Singapore and Hong Kong, over the next three months, in what Swarup calls a ‘retail first strategy’, explaining, “The pandemic threw a real spanner in the works as we were just getting ready to launch when the lockdown took effect.

But more importantly, the biggest stakeholders in our sector, the bars and hospitality industry in general, were devastated by it, and we had to pivot towards retail as a result.” It seems to have worked, with TERAI becoming the best-selling premium gin in Delhi in March. Its popularity in the Capital is probably helped by the fact that it uses 11 botanicals, almost all of which are sourced from Khari Baoli in Chandni Chowk. “We wanted our product to have an intrinsically Indian story and provenance, and so we have the botanicals from Khari Baoli.

We are also fortunate to have our own neutral spirit (most other companies have to source commercial neutral spirit) which is selected from the purest rice-spirit produced at the neighbouring family-owned distillery in Behror, Rajasthan, from grains grown on our farms in the Terai, making the gin truly grain to glass,” elaborates Swarup. It was in Behror that a new purpose-built distillery was created for the brand and fitted with a custom, small batch pot still along with a bottling facility and visitor’s area, as Swarup is keen to tell the brand’s tale and let those interested take a peek behind the curtain, or bar counter, if you will. However, TERAI’s inspirations are not just restricted to north India.

The gin comes in customised glass bottles, inspired by the pillars in ancient architecture of the sub-continent, while the bottle caps are crafted by the famous toy-makers of Channapatna, Karnataka, using locally-sourced matured ivory wood, coloured with vegetable-dye lacquer. Creating the recipe itself was a Herculean effort, with Swarup noting, “It was often one step forward, two steps back. I can’t remember how many exactly, but we easily did hundreds of trials, using glass apparatus, on a laboratory scale, before we finally hit the final recipe, using the one-shot process, which is not used by a lot of other gin-makers.” And by the looks of it, seems to have been worth the shot.

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