Stranger & Sons are on a spirited mission to take Indian gin global

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Stranger & Sons are on a spirited mission to take Indian gin global
Work in progress at a gin distillery. India’s Third Eye Distillery has moved into the UK market following a partnership with Sip and Savour to launch the Stranger & Sons brand.Courtesy: Getty Images

India-based Third Eye Distillery hopes to shake up the international market with its “Indian-spirited gin” expanding into the UK market.

Third Eye Distillery, an independent distillery born in Goa, has struck up a deal with the UK’s Sip and Savour network to tap into Britain’s lucrative gin market with its Stranger & Sons brand. The partnership will allow Stranger and Sons, a Gold medallist in a recent blind tasting event, to develop its presence in the UK and eventually other global markets.

“The advantage in the UK is that there is already a strong culture of online buying, and we have begun to strengthen our position with our various online retailers. During the pandemic, we shipped bottles to 100,000 homes across the UK,” said Sakshi Saigal, Co-founder of Third Eye Distillery.

Stranger and Sons has built its brand upon its Indian roots, celebrating Indian heritage, festivals, storytelling, cuisines and colours.

While gin wasn’t the spirit that brought Indians together, it was a perfect vehicle for the thing that did: spices.
While gin wasn’t the spirit that brought Indians together, it was a perfect vehicle for the thing that did: spices.Courtesy: Sip & Savour

Indian roots

Jamie Walker, managing director of Sip and Savour, said: “Gin manufacturers around the world look to India for provenance and we are proud to have inherited our first truly Indian gin distillery and the pioneer of quality Indian gin today.

“We can’t wait to roll out this inherently Indian premium gin at what is undeniably a most exciting time for the UK trade channels.”

Sakshi Saigal and her Third Eye Distillery co-founders, Rahul Mehra and Vidur Gupta, were entrepreneurs and restaurateurs when they decided to step into the gin market a few years ago. On their travels abroad, the trio kept encountering gin brands based on a vision of India that they knew very well had never been a reality.

Sakshi Saigal and her Third Eye Distillery co-founders, Rahul Mehra and Vidur Gupta.
Sakshi Saigal and her Third Eye Distillery co-founders, Rahul Mehra and Vidur Gupta.Courtesy: Sip & Savour

Saigal explains: “What we all noticed was something rather peculiar. A lot of the gins on the shelf spoke of a strange connection to India – either they were named after an Indian city or they used botanicals commonly found in every Indian kitchen.

“It made us question why products with these botanicals and this cultural heritage are made everywhere but here. We knew it was time to make a truly Indian distillery gin and thus pioneer the creation of quality gin in India.”

New wave

Despite being the birthplace of the gin and tonic, it is only now that the tipple is making waves in India. The Indian spirit of choice has historically been rum, so when Stranger & Sons’ co-founders decided to open a distillery, it would be India’s first with an emphasis on gin. But they felt confident relying on the country’s rich botanicals.

Gin manufacturers around the world look to India for provenance and we are proud to have inherited our first truly Indian gin distillery and the pioneer of quality Indian gin today.
- Jamie Walker, MD, Sip and Savour

And while gin wasn’t the spirit that brought Indians together, it was a perfect vehicle for the thing that did: spices.

“Travel to any state, city or corner of India and you’ll find that everyone, from local chai stalls and common homes to our top restaurants and royal kitchens, has their own unique spice blend – one they’re very proud and protective of,” says Gupta.

Premium product

The group began by tasting more than 400 gins, picking out the flavours and styles they liked best to create a “robust gin” with a distinctly Indian flavour profile. Setting up an independent distillery in India is no easy feat, with every state having its own regulations. Additionally, alcohol is conventionally mass-produced, resulting in the perception that local products are of lower quality. Stranger & Sons, a small-batch and premium craft gin, set off with a mission to change minds.

Crucially for the co-founders of Third Eye Distillery, Goa is a land bursting with botanical flavours. It was the perfect location to build their distillery. In fact, the team can source their raw materials from very close to home.

“We have an abundance of spice farms around our distillery, and literally get our black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and mace from our neighbour across the road,” says Saigal.

The distillery spread its wings to Singapore last year, launching bottled cocktails named Strange Times in the city-state, and has now made its move into the UK market through Sip and Savour’s on-trade and off-trade network, including several UK-based bars and restaurants.

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