|Small handmade batches of local gin now account for nearly half of the mass-premium gin segment in the country that have sales of about 168,000 cases (of nine litres each) last calendar year, up from 80,400 cases just two years ago, data from global alcohol market analysts IWSR show.|
Shaken or stirred, India’s young martini drinkers are increasingly opting for Indian craft gin brands, mostly made of juniper berry sourced from the Himalayas and distilled in Goa with local botanicals, rather than global brands.
Small handmade batches of local gin now account for nearly half of the mass-premium gin segment in the country that have sales of about 168,000 cases (of nine litres each) last calendar year, up from 80,400 cases just two years ago, data from global alcohol market analysts IWSR show.
What’s more, Greater Than, one of India’s first artisanal gins, outsold long-time segment leader Bombay Sapphire owned by Bacardi and other popular global brands such as Tanqueray and Gordon’s last year, despite each of these brands also growing in volumes, according to the latest IWSR Drinks Market Analysis report.
“The bar environment in India is increasingly evolving with higher demand for negronis or martinis,” said Anand Virmani, cofounder of Nao Spirits and Beverages, maker of Hapusa and Greater Than gins. “We have managed to build a strong relationship with customers and bartenders, helping people enter the category with a balance of accessible pricing and quality.”
Gins priced between Rs 1,300-2,700 are considered mass-premium or standard by IWSR and include brands such as Greater Than,
, Beefeater, Samsara and Hapusa among others.
“Imported gins, having fewer issues with authenticity, have grown strongly but from a small base,” IWSR analyst Jason Holway said in the report.
More brands likely
“Locally produced craft gins have shifted the centre of gravity in the category and enjoyed particular success, gathering momentum in the last two years,” Holway said.
Indian craft gin category is expected to grow exponentially with a strong likelihood of more brands and investment from large and small players alike, as industry insiders believe smaller towns will soon join the party.
“The drinking pattern has changed in India and people want to consume what’s trending and looks good on social media,” said Aditya Aggarwal, founder of Spaceman Spirits Labs that sells Samsara. “Gin has the advantage of being a refreshing option with greater mixability for cocktails compared to brown spirits.”
He added, “Smaller towns will drive the next level of growth for the category even as the market for premium gins in cities is still a nascent one.”
For many years, IMFL (Indian-made foreign liquor) gin brands in the value segment (Rs 240-900) such as Original Choice and Blue Riband dominated gin market in the country. However, over the past few years, their demand shrunk as consumers traded up for pricier brands. As a result, the value segment of gin fell to about 413,000 cases in 2021 from 895,000 cases in the pre-Covid year of 2019.
The success of local craft gin brands has caught the attention of the big players.
, the country’s largest alcobev company, acquired a minority stake in Nao Spirits in March and said it has significant expansion plans, both domestically and in international markets.
“These brands have the potential to be India’s answer to globally competitive craft gin, appealing to the millions of Indian-origin consumers living abroad,” Hina Nagarajan, managing director of USL, told analysts last month.
TONIC FOR TONIC
The growing preference for boutique gins has also led to nearly a dozen new premium tonic water brands entering the market in the past few years. They include Sepoy & Co, Jade Forest, Svami and Malaki.
“Artisanal tonics and mixers have influenced customers to try new spirits, leading to a vibrant cocktail culture never seen before in the country,” said Mohit Bhatia, cofounder of Malaki, an artisanal beverage brand. “And tonic is a natural fit to be poured with Indian gins.”
Malaki sold a million units of ginger ale, sparkling and tonic water last fiscal.