If you thought the Indian gin story was unstoppable, wait till you hear about the concurrent launches of limited-edition options. Like most things, the trend started innocuously, when Greater Than launched Juniper Bomb in April 2021.
By the time it followed up with the release of its second limited-edition gin, No Sleep G&T, in early 2022, Stranger & Sons had released Perry Road Peru and was gearing up to launch Trading Tides Gin and Spice Trade Gin, made in collaboration with Australian distiller Four Pillars.
Over the last few months, brands like Fullarton Distilleries’ Pumori Ascent, Amrut Nilgiris Cask Aged Gin, Bombay Sapphire’s Sunset Limited Edition and Greater Than’s Broken Bat, inspired by the cricket bat, have hit shelves, with another limited-edition gin slated to launch by November-end in Goa. 2022 has well and truly become the year of limited-edition gins.
While Bombay Sapphire’s Sunset boasts of botanicals like Spanish Mandarin, Golden Turmeric and Indian Cardamom, No Sleep G&T was a collaboration by Greater Than with Sleepy Owl Coffee, while Pumori Ascent and Nilgiris Cask Aged gins used the barrel-ageing process to add notes from the barrels to impart taste to the limited-edition gins. Clearly, experimentation with botanicals as well as barrels seem to be the way limited-edition gins are wooing customers. Prices, though, are still in the affordable category, unlike the position with rare whiskies. Amongst the latest releases, Bombay Sapphire Sunset Edition and Greater Than’s Broken Bat retail for ₹2,200 and ₹1,450, respectively, in Goa.
The term limited edition comes with its pitfalls. It has been used so liberally that Vikram Achanta, co-founder of bar awards platform 30 Best Bars India and co-founder of the beverage education and training organisation Tulleeho, goes as far as to describe the concept as one big “ginnick”. “If you say limited-edition, you need to be true to your word. If the product is available over a couple of years, then the credibility gets lost for consumers,” he says. So far, there has been a scramble for just two of the gins: Pumori Ascent, which was India’s first oak-aged gin (470 bottles), and Amrut Nilgiris Cask Aged Gin (900 bottles in Bengaluru and 900 for the international market).
For brands, it’s about creativity and buzz. “There are two sides to having limited-edition gins. First is that it keeps things interesting at the distillery. It’s about creativity and R&D, plus it’s an additional way for us to reach our customers. The whole point of being a craft gin is to get people to try your brand,” says Anand Virmani, co-founder of Nao Spirits, which makes Greater Than.
The buzz is a crucial factor. “Basically, while Greater Than is a solid performer, having expressions like No Sleep and Juniper Bomb gives an extra spark to the brand,” says Achanta.
Vidur Gupta, co-founder of Third Eye Distillery, which makes Stranger & Sons, says the focus is on originality. “From what was planned as an interesting experiment for us to channel our creativity, Perry Road Peru (India’s first distilled cocktail) had such an overwhelming response as tons of people resonated with the product.” Aman Thadani, director of Fullarton Distilleries, adds: “Any whisky collector would have some limited-edition bottles but that culture is slowly coming to the gin space too.”
International players like Bacardi, which launched Bombay Sapphire’s Sunset, are also laying claim to their share of this pie. Adtnu Tiwari, senior brand manager, premium white spirits, Bacardi India and South East Asia, says, “With consumers having an inclination to having a collectible in their home, this is the beginning of something much bigger.”
Priyanko Sarkar is a Mumbai-based writer covering the F&B industry.
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