As the winter breeze creeps in making its presence known, we’re officially segway-ing into the ‘long weekend’ mood of the year. The days are shorter and the evenings longer, making it the perfect time to host guests for a sipping soiree this upcoming party season. The celebrations during this time are like the pinnacle of festivity. It’s a chance to curate a selection of celebratory drinks, indulge in unique blends, and share the joy with your inner circle. Whether you’re hosting a tiny fête at home or taking a pause from your jet-setting lifestyle, it’s the moment to dive into a diverse array of liquors waiting to be explored. The bar scene is thriving, offering an array of innovative alcoholic and non-alcoholic options that have been emerging throughout the year, culminating in an explosion of choices in the latter part of 2023.
With a symphony of spirits, liqueurs, and age-old elixirs, India’s love affair with libations mirrors the vibrant diversity of its culture and people. From the timeless allure of whisky to the sun-soaked embrace of rum, from the camaraderie of beer to the hidden treasures of gin, India’s liquid landscape is a veritable playground of flavours and experiences.
In the last three years, the liquor world has seen a half-dozen new entrants. They now eagerly compete for your affection and allegiance on the shelves. Whether you’re gearing up to stock your home bar in style for new year eve’s extravaganza or in search of an intriguing bottle to present to your festive hosts, here’s a peek at five fresh, homegrown brands vying for your discerning palate:
The Chambal Valley in Madhya Pradesh is like a well-kept secret, shrouded in enigma. Its very name, once Charmanyavati, carries the weight of a legendary ‘curse’—attributed to the sacrifice of countless cows by the mythic king Rantideva. And now, a gin with a tale as captivating as the valley itself has entered the scene. Meet Chambal, straight from the heart of Chambal Valley, meticulously conjured by the ingenious Bapuna Alcobrew, a family of third-generation distillers and blenders. This spirit takes a plunge into the magic of handpicked botanicals from the region, flaunting a flavour profile that’s as unique as it is intriguing. Cheers to a taste of legends, brought to life in every sip!
The bottle in itself is more than just a container; it’s a nostalgic gateway to the rustic allure of Chambal. A luscious deep amber hue, adorned with a rugged label boldly flaunting crossed rifles, this brand tips its hat to the legendary dacoits who once called Chambal home. It’s also adorned with motifs of gharials, mesmerising waves, indigenous fauna, and traditional design elements reminiscent of Mandana art. So, every sip is like a journey through the captivating tapestry of Chambal’s rich history. Bottoms up to a sip of legends, wrapped in this distinctive bottle! This gin is sold in an intricately designed bottle, priced at INR.1,950
Ron De Santa Cruz
Terra da Santa Cruz, the land of the cross, holds the key to the birth of the all-new sipping rum, Ron de Santa Cruz. The whispers of adventure and discovery echo through the ages, inspiring this exquisite libation. This premium rum is not just a drink, it’s a passport to the Caribbean and Latin American rum traditions, with a cheeky Portuguese Goan twist. It’s the instant escape to sun-soaked shores and tantalising flavours, bottled just for you. But there’s more to it than meets the eye (and the palate). Ron de Santa Cruz is a finely tuned, handcrafted masterpiece, a blend of the very best. Each sip is a journey, each drop an experience.
With a luxurious, dark amber hue, it’s a visual masterpiece that sets the stage for what’s to come. The aroma is like a symphony of scents, a fragrant blend of honey, cocoa, and oak, wafting from the glass and teasing your senses. The palate is where the real adventure unfolds. Imagine a harmonious fusion of raisin, ripe peach, ginger, and clove, all dancing together in perfect sync, with oak and fruity sweetness performing a tango on your taste buds. And as your taste buds savour this flavourful voyage, the journey ends with a slightly dry finish, kissed by a hint of cinnamon. This bottle is also a time machine to the past. With its retro-inspired design, it’s like a voyage through the annals of style and sophistication. And there’s a cherry on top – the cap which is not your ordinary closure but a nod to the golden age of craftsmanship, where even the smallest detail was a work of art. This sipping rum is a perfect addition to any home bar, priced at INR. 1,350.
The Hilariously Peaty Masterpiece from Piccadilly Distilleries in Haryana. It’s like the spiciest character in the whisky universe. Imagine this: your glass becomes a smoky dance floor, taunting your senses, thanks to peat fires giving that barely a tan. The length and intensity of the peat smoke is like the DJ controlling your smoky groove. Indri whisky is the lovechild of six-row barley and handcrafted Indian copper pot stills. It gifts your taste buds with smoky serenades, candied dried fruits, toasted nutty vibes, hints of exotic spices, a touch of oak, and a bittersweet chocolate finish.
In a world where patience is a virtue, Indri said, ‘Hold my glass’. Launched in 2021, this Indian whisky sensation has skyrocketed to the top in just 18 months. The Usain Bolt of the whisky world Indri, is now strutting its stuff on the global stage, wearing the prestigious crown of “Best in Show” Double Gold from the Whiskies of the World Awards. If you’re sold on this dark liquor, you can add it to your collection at a price point of INR. 3,700.
Since Tequila can only be born from the blue Agave in Mexico, anything distilled from agave in India is simply referred to as ‘agave spirit.’ But here’s the twist: Desmond Nazareth, the mastermind behind DesmondJi and India’s very own 100% agave and 51% agave spirits, is the genius behind the all-new Maya Pistola Agavepura, a new 100% aged agave spirit in the country.
The source of the inspiration is none other than the legendary Mayahuel, the Goddess of Agave, who pulled a ‘hide and seek’ move on her wicked grandma by taking the form of an agave plant. But, alas, the secret was out, and her green disguise met its demise. Fast forward to today, we are talking about the reincarnation of Mayahuel in the form of Maya Pistola. This time, she’s here to mix things up and create a brand-new identity as Maya Pistola. This tequila, rooted in India with a Mexican flair is available at a price point of INR. 2,695.