GREATER THAN: SHAKING IT UP
THE BRAND that started it all. In 2015, when Anand Virmani and Vaibhav Singh were running a cocktail bar in Delhi, they were surprised by the lack of Indian gins in the market. “We thought someone should create a gin that represents India or is for bartenders from India,” says Virmani. Fellow enthusiasts encouraged them to create the gin on their own. In September 2017, Greater Than was launched as India’s first craft gin with nine botanicals, under their company Nao Spirits. While the juniper is imported from Macedonia, Indian botanicals like fennel, coriander, ginger and lemongrass are bought from suppliers locally. Last year, they launched a limited edition called Juniper Bomb—the result of a power failure that left the botanicals soaking for 34 hours instead of the regular 10, resulting in a batch of a much stronger-flavoured gin. This year, they are launching a coffee-infused gin as a limited edition. Greater Than is exported to 14 countries and is available in nine states in India, including Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi.
THE LATEST kid on the block (quite literally, considering founder Shubham Khanna is only 25 years old) is GinGin, a gin with hemp as a key botanical. Made after more than 40 trials, where Khanna tried everything from MDH Garam Masala to Goan chorizo, GinGin is distilled using nine botanicals, including juniper, coriander, lavender, rosemary, caraway seeds, cinnamon, lemongrass and, of course, hemp. “While I was figuring out what I wanted to put in my gin, I was on a keto diet. I used to sprinkle hemp seeds on my salad. I threw it into the gin pot and was happy with the results,” says Khanna. The hemp, he says, doesn’t have a flavour of its own, but adds texture. “It adds to the entire symphony of botanicals; it works as a USP.” Khanna is a self-taught, one-man army in the business, who did a four-month crash course at a New York-based distillery. After trials across a few bars in Goa, GinGin was launched in March 2021. As of now, it’s only available in Goa, but Khanna plans to expand to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi by the end of the year.