Our interview with Sanjeev Banga delves deeper into the history of the gin and tonic and we find out what Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin means to him. We also find out how many countries now appreciate this particular Indian gin that is packed with botanicals and herbs.
You are President of Radico Khaitan Ltd, India’s largest alcoholic beverage company, when did you join the business, and does your background stem from within the industry?
Joined Radico Khaitan 14 years ago. Of my total work experience of 37 years, have spent more than 25 years in the Beverage Alcohol industry. Prior to Radico was with Seagram / Pernod Ricard.
It is understood that the infamous Gin & Tonic was invented in India in the 1820’s, at what point of Radico Khaitan Ltd’s business was Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin introduced, and did you initially only sell in India?
Whilst promoting our Rampur Indian Single Malt in the European markets, we noticed a growing interest in Gin. There were lot of Gins with Indian names or using Indian botanicals, but none produced in India. Yes, it’s true that Gin & Tonic was invented in India, but there was a vacuum in terms of an Indian Gin. That’s when we started working on producing an authentic Indian craft gin.
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin was unveiled at Prowein, Dusseldorf in 2018 and followed by launches in UK, France, USA and Travel Retail. It was launched in India only in end 2019.
Where does the name Jaisalmer originate from?
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin takes its name from the historic city of Jaisalmer, the Golden City, located in the North West of India in the state of Rajasthan. Often described as the jewel in India’s crown, Jaisalmer is steeped in history and is home of the renowned Golden Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, constructed of sandstone walls that appear golden at sunset. The city of Jaisalmer bursts with colour, festivals and royal traditions and the richness and splendour of the city is reflected perfectly in Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, harking back to the imperial age of the Maharajas and their moments of leisure and pleasure.
How many countries sell Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin currently, and which countries would you like to see it being sold in?
Our brands are available in over 85 countries worldwide, but Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin is currently available in around 45 countries. Due to the pandemic and the resultant restrictions, our global roll out got delayed but now with things opening up, we will soon be available in all our international markets.
Have you had any difficult business challenges to overcome with the gin brand and how did you get through them?
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin is a triple-distilled spirit, handcrafted in a traditional copper pot still in small batches at Rampur distillery, located in the foothills of the Himalayas. The use of botanicals is a time honoured tradition in India and Jaisalmer Gin’s recipe is derived from the ancient Indian knowledge of herbs.
We wanted to retain the classic gin flavour using Juniper Berries whilst adding a refreshing twist with Indian botanicals. Seven of the 11 botanicals used in the distillation come from India. Coriander and Vetiver, a complex spice with intriguing peppery notes, are grown in the fields around Jaisalmer itself, Sweet Orange Peel from Central India which compliments the citrus and floral tones of the gin, Cubeb Pepper from Southern India, Darjeeling Green Tea leaves from Eastern India, Lemon Peel from Western India and Lemongrass from Southern India. Other botanicals include Angelica Root, Liquorice and Caraway Seeds which lend a spicy, slightly anise-tinged flavour to the gin. Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin is an ‘Oasis in the Desert’ and a drink ‘Fit for the Royalty’.
Business can be an upward struggle at times, do you have a strong team behind you to support with obstacles?
Rampur Distillery was established in 1943 and has been producing high quality alcohol since then. We started our branded business in 1998 and have launched over 15 successful brands since then in prestige to luxury segments across categories. Six of these brands feature in the Millionaires Club and we are the largest Indian Beverage Alcohol company. All this would not have possible without a dedicated and hardworking team. We invest a lot behind our people and allow them the freedom to experiment and innovate, especially our blending team.
Do you use social media to help promote the brand?
Our media planning and focus has always been in line with the global trends and post the pandemic, we have invested greatly in digital marketing and social media. It is a very effective and cost efficient media.
Our readers love to travel can you tell us if your gin distillery Rampur, at the foothills of the Himalayas is open to the public, and if the local area is good for tourism?
We have just refurbished our visitor center at Rampur Distillery – which also houses the Gin Distillery. The Distillery is not too far from Jim Corbett Tiger National Park as well as hill stations like Nainital. On the way back from the Distillery to New Delhi, you can take a slight detour and visit Taj Mahal at Agra. So there is plenty to see and do as a tourist.
If you were to pour yourself the perfect glass of Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, what would you mix with it, and where would be your ideal place to relax and enjoy it?
I love my Jaislamer Gin with plain Indian tonic water garnished with orange peel amongst my friends and loved ones.
Can you tell us which stockists to visit to purchase Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin in UK?
You can buy Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin online though:
Amazon, The Whisky Exchange, and Master of Malt
What’s next for the Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin brand, do you have any new launches planned for 2022?
Yes indeed, we have a special edition of Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin ready to be launched this year.
Where can people find out more about the history of Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin?
Please visit our website Jaisalmer Gin