Tamil Nadu

Amrut’s gin comes with a bouquet of 10 botanicals

The story of this Indian gin begins in the Nilgiris, five years ago. The late chairman and managing director Neelakanta Rao Jagdale of Bengaluru-based Amrut Distilleries was holidaying at his summer home in Udhagamandalam when he thought of creating a distilled gin using botanicals and spices from South India.

After a visit to the Government Medicinal Plant Development Area at Doddabetta, the highest mountain range in the South, he learnt about the medicinal plants used to manufacture therapeutic oils. “He made multiple trips to the Nilgiris, especially to the Ooty Botanical Garden,” recalls Nikhil Varma, gin distiller and brand ambassador for Amrut.

Amrut’s Nilgiris gin launched in December 2020 is now available in the US, UK, Europe and Singapore. And, there are expansion plans on the cards in India and overseas. “Our whiskeys are available in 58 countries. We want to grow further. We are working on new gins with Indian botanicals that highlight the variety of flavours that our country is known for. We are trialling it now to finalise the recipe,” Nikhil adds. While the Nilgiris gin came with a bouquet of 10 botanicals including juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemongrass, angelica roots, orris roots, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, Nilgiris tea and paan (betel leaves), the new gins will also have unique botanicals and interesting flavour profiles.

Hint of spices

Nikhil explains that as the Nilgiris mountain range has a vast area dedicated to tea plantations, its tea, which represents the hills was the first choice. “A variety of Indian spices grown here offer a range of botanicals with indigenous flavour properties,” explains Nikhil who added that he foraged a wide range of botanicals and distilled them individually or as a compound recipe. “Nilgiris tea gives the floral, yet complex muskiness that stand out. I distilled some green tea and black tea varieties before choosing the right one that has a bit of dryness, florals, and a hint of spices. It adds an extra dimension. We have used Italian juniper berries, a primary botanical with all-purpose flavours of pine, lavender, rose, and citrus which is tasty. Coriander seeds, a floral spice complements the soft citrus of juniper and I explored lemon grass to bring the zesty note.”

A library of botanicals

The other three primary spices are mace, nutmeg and cinnamon. “The slight dryness of mace accentuates the punch of nutmeg and the earthy cinnamon. The two fixatives — orris root gives a dry grass smell and lets other botanicals shine through while the angelica root creates a woody, ‘wet forest’ kind of smell.” For Nikhil, visiting the spice plantations and tea estates of the Nilgiris was a unique experience. “In mint, there is spearmint, peppermint, basil and a whole variety of herbs and spices that I explored in Ooty. And, chillies too. We created a library of botanicals, individual flavour profiles and flavour groups like spicy gin and floral gin, to name a few.”

The last botanical came in the form of betel leaves: the spicy and floral variety from Mysuru and the juicy, sweet variety from Kubakonam in Tamil Nadu. Says Nikhil, “Way back in 2015, there were literally no Indian gins. Now, there are more than a dozen Indian gins and we are growing. Every brand brings its own story and creativity. Home-grown brands are challenging other global brands across the world. Now, Nilgiris gin is available in European countries. To represent India is a big thing.” Amrut’s botanical-based distilled gin is currently available in Goa and Karnataka, and will soon be available in Maharashtra and Haryana.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 6:37:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/amruts-gin-comes-with-a-bouquet-of-10-botanicals/article36760214.ece

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