DOJA Gin: Well-travelled, crafted with Japanese influence 

Ruhi Gilder 
The founder of DOJA Gin, Jai Anand, began his foray into gin armed with only a passion for the spirit. Anand himself drinks nothing but craft beer and gin. He first jumped into the entrepreneurial scene with his own music curator agency, Milkman, launched 5 years ago in Mumbai. However, as with most new launches of 2021, the pandemic provided the impetus to Anand to start branching out. In August 2020, the idea of creating a small-batch gin made with quality ingredients took hold, and after a year of R&D, several taste batches, DOJA gin hit the shelves of Goa in December 2021. DOJA is manufactured by East Side Distillery and is distilled in both Goa and Japan.  
A familial connection to Japan prompted Indian entrepreneur Jai Anand to launch the gin, that celebrates the botanicals from the two countries. The idea of ‘2 cultures in 1 sip’ defines the newest entrant to India’s growing gin market. In a tête-à-tête with the Founder, CEO and Chief Culture Head – DOJA, Jai Anand, LuxeBook got behind what makes DOJA gin stand out from the rest.  
Formula of eight 
DOJA Gin Botanicals
His desire to pay equal heed to the rich cultures of Japan and India, led to Anand using four ingredients from each country to manufacture the gin. The Japanese ingredients are sourced from the Wakayama Prefecture, home to the Kii Mountain range, Buddhist shrines where Japanese cedar trees abound. Cedar is one of the four ingredients from Japan. With its smoky menthol essence, it is commonly used to scent sake. It gives a similar woody aroma to DOJA. Second, a sour ingredient, typical of Japan, yuzu, lends brightness with its lemony-orange notes. Tiny, yet mighty, sansho pepper, a lemon-lime flavoured pepper imparts sharp heat, followed by a cooling tingle. Native to Japan, Hinoki cypress wood is used to give the gin the scent of the mountains of Japan, citrusy yet smoky. 
Wakayama Prefecture
Wakayama Prefecture
Next come the four ingredients from India. These are used in every kitchen often enough and are known for their flavourful properties. Peppermint, with its classic zingy freshness gives the spirit a clean finish, while coriander seed, a popular botanical in gin, shows its true colours in the lingering aftertaste of nuttiness, sweetness and warmth. Saunf or fennel, an ingredient familiar to all Indians, adds its signature sweet and grassy layers. Cardamom from the south of India, an ingredient which has intense flavours that are subdued when distilled, supplies a complex warmth and fruitiness to the product. DOJA’s primary ingredient, juniper berries, the base of every gin, comes from Europe, and provides the aromas of pine, lavender and camphor.  
Craft gin 
When it comes to the design and packaging, Anand immersed himself in the process, “We hired an agency to do the designing, but I was completely hands-on in sending them references about the colour and logos.” The simple glass bottle is marked with a minimalist sleek black label showcasing DOJA written in both Hindi and Japanese. It’s design, packaging and contents are meant to earn DOJA its place in the premium liquor shelf of bars at home.  
DOJA is made using a single short distillation process, one that gin purists would argue makes for a superior method of production. Mainly used by craft, small-batch gin producers, this hands-on process involves steeping the neutral spirit with a precise quantity of juniper and botanicals. This is unlike the multiple shot method, which uses huge quantity of botanicals with a small amount of liquid to make a concentrate, which is then diluted as required.  
Quick turnover 
Since gin, as opposed to whisky and tequila is not required to age, the production time is reduced. Gin’s quick method of creation is one of the factors to which Anand credits its meteoric rise in India. But the entrepreneur is not focusing only on India as his market. Anand envisions aficionados sipping DOJA on the streets of West Village, in a restaurant in Japan, in a club on Soho and in the gastronomic mainstays of Barcelona. This international worldview is a product of Anand’s schooling in Mumbai, summer and winter breaks in New York, frequent family trips to Japan to visit family, education in Spain and work in London. 
Founder Jai Anand
A combination of his upbringing, a focus on creating a good product, and closing his ears to naysayers, is what has led to DOJA gin. “When I came to Bombay and started doing music events, people told me I was crazy,” said Anand with a laugh. His perseverance made Milkman a success in curating live experiences that bring music, art, and ideas together. Now he endeavours to do the same with DOJA, creating a product to exacting standards.  
Prioritising quality meant that DOJA can be had on the rocks, the style in which Anand himself likes to drink gin. Surprisingly not a fan of the staple gin and tonic, Anand prefers to sip his gin with a block of ice, and a splash of water, a combination that brings out each botanical. “For me I think it was very important that I make a gin that I can have at home on the rocks hence we spent almost a year on the recipe,” admits Anand.  

While we may see flavoured varieties of gin from DOJA down the road, right now its founder is taking it step by step, aiming to grow their flagship product first. To put it in his own words, “The focus is just acing this, making sure it tastes good and people like it, as well as being at the right bars in Bombay and Goa.” 
DOJA gin is available in Mumbai and Goa.  
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