Enrico Sabatini’s family home in Tuscany has fields of lavender, sage and thyme. These are three of the nine botanicals that go into the small batch, premium, London dry gin Sabatini. As the name suggests, it’s owned and produced by his family. Last month, Enrico along with the Mumbai-based alcohol importer, Anggel’s Share hosted an intimate gin-tasting event in the city.
The gin entrepreneur has spent close to two decades in south-east Asia and has closely followed the evolution of mixology. In an interview, he shares his insights on India’s gin industry, the key characteristics of a good gin and a simple recipe for a great Martini.
1. Why do you think the timing is right to launch yet another gin in India?
Back in 2019, the Mumbai-based alcohol distributor, Anggels Share contacted me. They were interested in a premium gin from Italy backed by an interesting story and a strong market equity. Back then, Italian gins weren’t present in India. I have worked in Asia for about 17 years, and I am now based in Bangkok. In the last few years, I see a growing interest for mixology in India (few bars are in the Top 50 Asia best Bar). So, the call from Anggel’s Share came at the right time and we decided to work together to bring some Tuscan flavours into the gin scene in India.
2. In a market overcrowded with several homegrown gin options, what will make an imported gin stand out?
Firstly, the quality of the distillation done in London by one of the oldest family running distilleries named Thames Distillery; secondly, the quality of the botanicals, which are grown by my dad in our family estate in Tuscany called Villa Ugo; and thirdly, the premium packaging. Our bottle is engraved, there’s no paper label, and it is made by Saverglass, a renowned manufacturer of high-end glass bottles.
3. What do you mean by quality distillation?
It is a measure of how efficient a distillation process is. It is determined by the purity of the distillate, which is the liquid that comes out of the distillation process.
4.What do you mean by quality of the botanicals?
It refers to the characteristics of the plants used, such as their freshness and the amount of essential oils they contain. These impact the taste of the drink.
5. What are your key takeaways from the gin market in India?
Indian gin is following the trend that exploded in Europe two-three years ago. It focuses on quality of distillation, home grown botanicals and premium packaging. If the producer finds a right balance between these three elements, I expect to see more Indian gins in the export market.
6. At more than ₹ 6000, Sabatini is an expensive gin. What is the best way to enjoy it?
Yes, it is expensive because import taxes in India are high, so local gins have a competitive advantage. We are positioning ourselves on the top end of the premium gin. Consumers know that all imported alcohol is expensive, but as far I have noticed, they are willing to pay a bit more for quality products that have interesting stories behind them. I am from Tuscany; we love to keep things simple. I enjoy this gin with tonic or make a Martini.
7. What makes a good martini?
For a nice cocktail, you will need great ingredients. To make a Martini, stir gin (60 ml) with a dry vermouth (about 1 tbsp) and serve with an olive on a cocktail stick. With Sabatini gin, a nice dry vermouth is more than enough.