Hapusa, the Himalayan dry gin from Nao Spirits, recently bagged a gold medal at the International Wines & Spirits Competition (IWSC) 2021.
In three years since its launch, Hapusa (the Sanskrit name for juniper) is found in over 15 countries. Anand Viramani, co-founder, CEO and distiller at Nao Spirits, is delighted. “This award puts the Indian craft spirits flag across the globe,” he says, adding that with over 250 judges drawn from around the world to evaluate thousands of wines and spirits across 1,500 different categories and renowned brands participating, the competition was intense.
“This has come as a very welcome surprise! We have been swimming against the current right from the time we discovered Himalayan juniper, which required us to keep our heads down and keep plugging away, says Anand. “A Gold at the IWSC is an affirmation of our focus on quality. As its makers, we were always proud of Hapusa, now that as many as 250 experts have given their opinion on it, it makes us even more confident of the choice we made in picking Himalayan Juniper.”
Nao Spirits, a start-up by Anand Viramani, Aparajita Ninan and Abhinav Rajput, makes the gin at a state-of-the-art distillery in Goa. The trio were adamant about using Himalayan juniper when they learnt about its use in Ayurvedic medicines in India. However, it took a couple of wild goose chases before Anand finally laid his hands on the elusive ingredient.
He explains how their craft gin Hapusa stand out because it is made using foraged Himalayan juniper berries. Anand adds, “It is a contemporary gin that is uniquely Indian, with botanicals like raw mango, Gondhoraj and turmeric, which have so far never been used to create gins.” He adds, “Nao Spirits wanted to do away with the garam-masala-ish flavour in Indian gin and show new India flavours. We wanted to step away from the clichés.”
The official tasting review by the IWSC judging panel described Hapusa as: “A powerful and wonderfully fragrant gin, with pronounced and complex juniper on the nose. The palate is smooth with citrus and Himalayan juniper working together to create a stunning end-product. A delicious saline character runs seamlessly through the mouthfeel giving a long, incredibly satisfying length.”