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Wine & Dine
November 13, 2018

A New Craft Gin Is Launching Soon And Its All Indigenous

Text by Shubham Ladha

In a Verve exclusive, Native Brews’ Susan Dias talks about Proof, the newest local gin to hit the market soon

In the wake of India’s recent Gin-aissance, after Greater Than and Stranger & Sons there’s another player set to offer a craft gin, but this one’s made entirely from locally sourced ingredients.

Slated to launch in March next year, Proof gin, from Native Brews is the brain child of Susan Dias.

“Gin is essentially a spirit that’s flavoured with botanicals like Juniper, coriander seeds, ginger root, cucumber, pepper… the list is endless. One could use as many as 50 herbs and spices. The beauty for me, lies in the fact that most of these ingredients are very local to India, and can easily be found in any kitchen. People are open to trying new tastes today and of course, the playing field is open to smaller business, such as ours,” Dias explained. When she started working on the gin’s recipe two years ago, there weren’t any local options available.

Proof will be made in Native Brews’ distillery, that’s recently been set up in Goa and will be priced between rupees 1000 and 1500. Dias describes the taste as, “recognizable, yet with new flavours. It’ll be very earthy and floral.” She adds, “That’s the game plan, to use ingredients which are only found in certain places or carry a geographical indicator (GI) tag. It’s what will give the product its uniqueness.” Although she’s keeping the recipe closely guarded.

Susan Dias, has been interested in spirit brewing and distillation since she, at the age of 14, stumbled upon one of her older sibling’s master’s thesis on the subject. She eventually began to cultivate this interest so much so that even while working formerly as a chartered accountant, most of Dias’ clients became breweries and distilleries. As she was hitting what she called her “quarter-life crisis”, she radically decided to transition into the tipple business with her homegrown spirit company, Native Brews. She reminisces, “You know that one thing you’ve always wanted to do? This was it for me and so I just started it.”

Staying true to its name, Native Brews was started by Dias’ and co-founder Aditi Anand in 2014 to unearth India’s ethnic alcoholic beverages, to bridge the missing gap in today’s Indian liquor market. Thereafter, the duo travelled around the country to research ingredients and learn to craft authentic recipes from them. She tells me, “When I started out researching, there was a lot of apprehension about what I’d find. The biggest learning from it has been that in spite of every single contrary opinion about alcoholic beverages, there’s actually a lot of pride in people about the knowledge they have about them. And somehow, that’s just become very obscure. When I spoke to people about the alcoholic beverages they made they spoke about it with the same pride they would attribute to their food or any other part of their culture. Their knowledge was so developed and nuanced that it changed my thinking. Diverse Indian cultures have been making their liquors for centuries and so the depth of knowledge is immense. It’s just sad that we don’t know about it and stick to our whiskies and beers.”

It is this journey and these learnings which inspired her to take up Proof Gin as her personal project. Apart from Proof, Native Brews’ mainstay is their liquor derived from the Mahua flower. The plant is available in several states of India, such as Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, and the liquor made from it is one of the many authentically Indian beverages, which Dias’ wants to show to the rest of the world.She hasn’t christened the liquor as yet because, “it’s such a unique product, that I want to be careful with my branding, bottling and packaging. People form an opinion very quickly nowadays, and I don’t want our products to be that niche, Indian novelty that people will buy, place it on their shelves and only consume it once in a while.” It’s only been a few months since Goa has allowed the manufacturing and sale of Mahua beverages, while Dias’ recipe has been ready for a year and half now, so Dias believes the liquor will be ready by next year, as well.

Till then, we’ll gladly wait for Proof.

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