October 24, 2019
GIN and TONIC originated in India as a more palatable way for Victorian colonialists to overthrow the bitter quinine that protected them from malaria. Gin's recent surge in popularity around the world has produced a long list of popular brands that inspire Indian inspiration, but Bombay Sapphire, Sikkim, Jodhpur, Opihr and Gin Wala are distilled in Britain. Despite India's role in popularizing gin, it took many years for home-grown companies to join the party.
Stranger & Sons, established in Goa a year ago, is one of the few national luxury brands that is popping up in Indian bars. Not only can they negotiate with history, but the local availability of flavoring "botanicals", plants and spices is another benefit. Demand for Stranger & Sons products in India seems to correspond to a worldwide headquarters. Global premium bottle sales are growing about 20 percent a year, says IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, a research firm, two and a half times the overall sales rate for spirits. Initial Stranger & Sons production of 1,800 bottles per month will increase to 21,000 by the end of the year.
The company is fighting the odds. Selling a high-cost product where poverty abounds is a difficulty. The same goes for setting up an alcohol business in a country where four states are totally dry and taxes high. Overall gin sales in India are expected to decrease by 5% annually over the next five years. But most of it is the rotten variety, costing less than $ 2.50 per bottle. Yet even at the end of the Stranger & Sons market, which charges about $ 40 a bottle, India ranks 55th in the global sales rankings below Malaysia, a mainly Islamic country with strong alcohol control. .
All of this meant that when the three young entrepreneurs in Mumbai behind the new product began to raise money, they had to look for unusually adventurous sponsors. Perhaps the experience of studying abroad from two of the founders, who saw firsthand the growing popularity of premium gin, was a compelling argument. Other sophisticated domestic gin brands, such as Greater Than, are also fighting for space behind Indian bars. Born in India, G&T is capturing the imagination and filling the cups of the country's increasingly drinkers. ■
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition, under the title "Indian Gin Measures Yourself"
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