The mixology world is looking at a period of ‘Gin-naissance’, embracing the spirit's versatility and complexity like never before

Gin has made a marvellous comeback and we sit down to unfold why it has become the newest obsession

Update: 2024-02-29 08:47 GMT

The world of mixology is constantly undergoing change. We’ve come a long way from old fashioned drinks or neat spirits on the rocks and this shift is quite evident in the multitude of cocktails and alcohols available in the market. We’ve seen everything from the rise of Vodka as the younger generation's choice to a myriad of tea cocktails challenging every palate and if I may be honest, this constantly evolving space is quite the spectacle all across the globe! However, trends have to become fads to make way for newer and more exciting trends and this article delves into the latest obsession of mixology: Gin!

Gin as a spirit was introduced in India all the way back during the BritishRaj. And the reason for its introduction has absolutely nothing to do with Happy Hour. Tracing back its roots, gin was actually consumed in tonic form to cure malaria. Gin was mixed with certain amounts of quinine to form a tonic and offered to the sick. And as noble as the cause may be, gin soon became a popular drink, often taken neat for recreational purposes. Over time, even gin lost its charm with the crowd and was later on identified as a drink best suited for the older generations, an uncle’s drink, If I may be blunt. But if so was the case, what has brought it back into the limelight?

I may still be a novice in the field, but the rising trend of gin has definitely caught my eye. And so I figured, the big players in the industry could definitely shed some light on the topic. In a recent conversation with Anant S. Iyer, Chief Operating Officer at Alcobrew Distilleries India Pvt. Ltd.—parent to many well renowned spirit brands like Old Smuggler, Victorio, Lion Daddy and White Hills—about the rising popularity of gin, he said, ‘Gin was the choice of spirit in India till the mid-90s. With the entry of international vodka brands younger consumers started to shift to vodka and gin was left languishing as the ‘uncool’ drink of Uncles and Aunts. However, around 2015, the well-travelled Indian consumer—along with the wave of globalisation— started to look at options and was willing to experiment and try new flavours and tastes. Simultaneously international gin brands started to woo Indian consumers and with manufacturing becoming less of a hassle in some markets (like Goa) Indian entrepreneurs entered the market with their craft gins and this has led to a boom in the category. The fact that gin is now accessible, and has many flavour profiles has helped. Many of the botanicals are easily sourced in India itself making it easier to experiment. Subsequently the cocktail culture has ensured that Gin is at the very heart of it given its versatility and the excitement around it.’

Gin, truly, is a versatile drink. Should you choose to sip on it neat, on the rocks or stirred into a cocktail, its adaptability makes it the perfect choice for just about any occasion or mood. When we asked Mr. Anant, how Alcobrew ensures their quality in order to provide their consumers with what is considered premium quality spirits, he said, ‘Alcobrew has always focused on quality and innovation as the cornerstone to our success. We believe in being part and parcel of our consumers' everyday life and certainly their special occasions. Our journey has been successful despite the competitive landscape and from our inception we have always been dedicated to bettering the consumer’s experience, and this motivation has been our strongest driving force!’

Like I mentioned before, trends at some point turn into fads to make way for newer things, and although gin has had its fair-share of the limelight twice, I wonder what its trajectory looks like, in the Indian market. ‘Once a spirit reserved for the discerning elite, gin is now increasingly popular, overtaking vodka as the favourite. This increase can be attributed to a confluence of key factors. First, the experience-driven generation seeks unique and personalised choices. Gin’s versatility shines here, with its customizable flavour profile blending seamlessly into countless cocktails, spanning a variety of palates. This, coupled with the subtle energy and disguised flavours of the cocktails, creates an approachable feel for new consumers, easing them into the world of gin. The association of affordability with sophistication and accessibility, has put gin at the forefront of the drinking scene,’ said Mr. Tushar Bhandari, Whole Time Director, AABL (Associated Alcohols & Breweries Limited)—parent company to notable brands like Central Province Whisky, Titanium, James McGill, and their newest launch, Nicobar Gin.

There is no doubt in the argument that the supply flood of various premium gin brands in the market, offering their consumers a limitless number of options be it in terms of flavour, affordability or experience, that the gin trend is here to stay for a little while longer. And if I may be courageous enough to put down my opinion on this matter, I’d definitely say that the redistillation process of gin, where it is introduced to various botanicals, is what keeps it one step ahead of its competing spirits. Even though we recognise the might of sober curiosity (a decision to question your relationship with alcohol and abstain from it), gin as a beverage seems to have pervaded—gingerly, if not explosively—the space of health and wellness as well. ‘With health and wellness in full swing around drinks, Gin is poised for exciting growth. Gin is lower in calories than many other spirits. In addition, its root ingredient, juniper berries, is full of antioxidants, providing potential health benefits. This connects with customers who demand more focused and quality options. The growing demand for low-alcohol and non-alcoholic products provides an exciting platform for new gin productions. Brewers create spirit-free gin options by using plant extracts, and carefully capturing the spirit’s essence without alcohol. This allows health-conscious individuals to enjoy the spirit's signature flavour and reap its benefits. Gin's versatility definitely extends beyond the conventional cocktail shaker,’ said Mr. Tushar Bhandari, when asked about the rising demand for gin as far as health is concerned.

In conclusion, the resurgence of gin in the world of mixology represents more than just a passing trend; it signifies a shift towards innovation, diversity, and exploration in the realm of spirits. From its humble origins as a medicinal tonic during the British Raj to its current status as a beloved and versatile beverage, gin has evolved to meet the changing tastes and preferences of consumers. While trends may come and go, the enduring appeal of gin suggests that its reign in the world of mixology is far from over. So, let's raise a glass to gin – a spirit that continues to captivate and inspire.


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