The new wave of local and made-in-India crafts is an exciting space to watch. Pushing the envelope further is a new addition to the Indian alcohol industry. Welcome Terai, a homegrown, craft dry gin with its origin in Rajasthan. Owned by the Swarups, their tryst with spirits goes back to 1958, when the family was one of the few to establish a distillery in independent India.
Interestingly, the pandemic-induced lockdown could not stop the fourth generation successor Shekhar Swarup from launching Terai gin in the Indian market, with inspirited plans to soon take it to the international consumers. In a conversation with Swarup and Terai’s brand ambassador and strategist Karina Aggarwal, LuxeBook takes you through the journey of this dynamic, new gin.
Rising through the crisis
To a certain level, Terai was almost ready to roll out in the market, but the lockdown delayed it. “Nobody could predict this situation. My team and I did not expect a pandemic during the launch,” says Swarup. But he is undeterred about the current market size and the consequential consumption pattern. “Although our team operations have become quite difficult, I am optimistic that things will improve soon.”
He believes that Mumbai and Delhi are strong influencers in shaping consumer behaviour patterns. While he would have preferred to bring the gin to both metros, the team eventually decided to first launch it only in Delhi, given that the Rajasthan-based distillery is closer and he himself is based in the Capital.
The plan is to begin retailing in August 2020, but as the situation is still a little uncertain, Terai will announce a final date soon.
Deeper into Terai gin’s palate
The recipe for Terai gin is one of its kind, and as Aggarwal says, “For a person who has never tasted it before, it smells extremely inviting.” There are as many as eleven ingredients, and everything is sourced from India – fennel, tulsi, coriander, lemon and orange peel, almonds, lavender, rose, angelica, orris root and juniper berries.
“The goal was to craft a modern interpretation of the traditional London Dry Gin, infused with authentic Indian elements.” She adds, “We wanted to keep it layered with flavours and make it a bartender-friendly gin, so that they can use it in a variety of ways.” During the last two years, Swarup had several taste trials and consultations at Khari Baoli in Delhi (it dates back to the Mughal era), which is touted as Asia’s largest spice market.
Ultimately, it’s all about creating a balance. Every single botanical was extensively researched. The taste profile begins with a striking herbaceous note of coriander, tulsi and fennel, and as you nose it, with time, a beautiful aroma of rose and lavender sets in. Juniper berry gives it a sweet-sour essence. “We haven’t done tastings with our consumers yet, but, we are very excited and believe that people will be able to pick up these notes more easily because it bursts with flavours familiar to an Indian household,” adds Aggarwal.
Our target customers know what they are drinking…
Terai, in a way, is set to reignite the conversation around local, indigenous ingredients. Aggarwal says, “Our target audience is the one that cares about what they are drinking and the provenance of the drink.”
Premium bars, restaurants and bartenders are also a significant part of Terai’s strategy. But, with the existing halt in the F&B businesses across India, the brand had to play down the launch at many levels.
Taking the launch digital
Aggarwal on behalf of her entire team says, “Terai’s reveal was supposed to be in a room full of people, where we could have shared the gin with everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we are in right now.”
So, the homegrown brand changed its way of connecting with its audience: Terai launched on Instagram last month. Even the upcoming marketing strategies, activations, engagements and plans are centred around social media and are fully digital.
All eyes on the bottle
The design of the bottle is a stunning take on India. “For branding purposes, the product design is very important to stand out. At a bar usually, one’s attention is pulled in forty directions to different spirits and brands,” says Aggarwal.
Terai’s design team, Quick Brown Fox, went to Karnataka’s local artisans to get the traditional Channapatna art handcrafted on the bottles. Every bottle is custom-made, designed with many, little nuances of India. The glass bottle takes the shape of ancient Indian pillars. The stoppers are made with ivory-wood, dyed and shaped by hand. The label fashions the illustration of all the 11 botanicals with 5-colour print and copper foil.
Aggarwal sums up, “These details give an evident Indianness to Terai. We don’t know what India tastes like, right? But the infusion of India in so many ways is exactly how we consider Terai as made in India.”