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Flavouring gin with fragrance

India, France and science come together in 44°N, a luxury sipping gin created by an Indian maker

Perfume extraction processes can be used to flavour spirits like gin.
Perfume extraction processes can be used to flavour spirits like gin. (Photo by Comte De Grasse)

Bhagath Reddy, the Bengaluru-born CEO and founder of a luxury spirits company based in the city of Grasse on the French Riviera, laughs when you ask if he considers himself the titular Comte De Grasse (Count of Grasse), the name of his company. “No, no, the botanicals are the hero of this story,” says Reddy. With a background in luxury retail, Reddy founded Comte de Grasse in 2017, inspired by the flora of the Mediterranean region and by Grasse, considered the perfume capital of the world. “The thought was how do we take fragrance science and use it to flavour spirits? The processes are not entirely dissimilar, but certain techniques used in the perfume industry are more refined and sophisticated, and we felt they would be adaptable to create extraordinary spirits,” says Reddy.

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Their first brand is 44°, a luxury sipping gin named after the coordinates of Grasse infused with numerous botanicals native to the region. Lemon peel and rose hit the nose first when you take a delicate sip (with ice only), followed by distinct notes of juniper and a range of complex notes that retain a distinctly floral identity throughout—the heart notes being predominantly floral (rose, jasmine and bitter orange) probably accounts for this. The base is more woody and spicy, with herbs such as Smyrnium olusatrum, known as alexanders locally, and Juniperus oxycedrus, aka cade or cade juniper, along with pepper and pine.

To create it, the company used equipment at the perfume research lab of the local university and eventually set up a distillery at a 19th-century perfumery, Roure Bertrand & Fils. They employed techniques used in perfumery, such as ultrasonic maceration, which disrupts plant tissues and is considered an efficient and sustainable method of extracting active substances from plants. During the second stage of the process, vacuum distillation was used to further extract aromatic compounds from the macerate while concentrating the alcohol at very low temperature and pressure levels, followed by another step of extraction done by pumping a high-pressure plasma of carbon dioxide to extract targeted flavours.


44° is a luxury sipping gin.
44° is a luxury sipping gin.

It took over two years to perfect this process and create the first of two products, the 44°N gin, which launched in Europe, Australia, Canada and other markets in 2018 and in India in late 2023, and the 06 Vodka Rosé, a super-premium vodka created using an extract of Organic Rosé wine from Chateau Vert infused into French winter wheat Vodka. The gin, available in Mumbai, the National Capital Region and Hyderabad, is priced at 11,230 for a 500 ml bottle in Delhi. The rose vodka costs 6,540 for a 700 ml bottle in the same market.

“The trend in spirits, globally, is to drink less but drink better,” says Reddy. “At the same time, spirits with flavour-forward profiles are doing well, especially if you use very specific local ingredients. (Product) Inconsistencies are being appreciated, and this is a trend in luxury products in every category,” he adds.

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