Unshaken and stirring
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
In My Experience… Shubham Khanna
CEO and Founder of GinGin
* Shubham Khanna started GinGin at 24 as he was a gin enthusiast himself and wanted something he could drink with his friends.
* While experimenting with botanicals, he found hemp was an excellent addition to the mix and so the hemp-based gin was born.
* The main idea behind GinGin was to create a gin that was flavour neutral so that it could please everyone’s palate, right from the connoisseur to first-timers.
* Despite being a very young brand, it will soon be launched in various cities in the country, and in Singapore and Hong Kong as well.
* Cracking the retail market is the first challenge before the brand becomes a hit across India and the world.
* Worth putting in the effort if you’re passionate about something, Khanna’s advice to budding entrepreneurs.
For decades and still, gin is considered one of the most versatile spirits. A subtle pick-me-up or an elaborate cocktail, gin can do it all. We depend on Western brands for good quality gin but homegrown brands are slowly giving them tough competition.
Among the many pathbreaking homegrown brands is GinGin. Started by Shubham Khanna when he was just 24, the brand has carved a niche for itself, especially among gin drinkers. In this interview, the entrepreneur takes us through his journey, the rise of homegrown brands and keeping the ingredients local.
Q: Can you take us through your journey of launching the first hemp-based gin brand?
A: When I started working on the brand almost six-and-a-half years ago, there were not many gin brands in India. As the country only veered towards brown spirits it was a pain to learn everything from scratch.
In 2017, when I started working on the brand, the gin revolution was just starting in India. People were getting more educated about what they wanted to drink.
Gin was never a business for me, it was always a passion. As I got older, I moved from whiskey to gin because every gin I tried was different. Gin is such a versatile spirit. I wanted to create a gin that I could enjoy with my friends. This was the beginning of my journey six years ago.
I started using hemp only recently. Usually, the butterfly pea flower is used in the gin, but it has a tart profile. Hemp’s oiliness balanced it out.
Q: Could you tell us how you named your brand GinGin?
A: For me, I prefer gin with no citrus elements. We wanted to make a gin that was base neutral. It was made as an introduction for people who wanted to experiment with gin. We also wanted to make the brand recognizable. GinGin was my moniker when I started making gin. Gin originated in Italy and the term cin cin, meaning cheers, also resonated with the brand and hence it was christened thus.
Q: In a country dominated by brown spirits, India is seeing a rise in the trend of gins, especially homegrown ones. Do you think if positioned well, Indian brands can get better recognition in the Indian market and expand globally?
A: Ever since more and more homegrown brands have been launched, people are much more aware of gin and they are much more comfortable buying Indian brands. India being a spice hub, we have everything right here and our palate is more used to complex flavours. More and more brands are moving towards that.
In terms of getting global recognition, there are a couple of brands which have already made a splash.
People are much more educated about drinking in general now. People across the globe have started recognizing the country as a good spirit manufacturer.
Q: As a gin brand and being passionate about alcohol, how important is educating new gin drinkers about gin as a product and its consumption?
A: As a brand owner we tend to really focus on education because every gin is made for a different purpose. We want our consumers to know about various botanicals and how to consume a particular spirit. This helps them know what they’ll enjoy as opposed to what they won’t. No two batches of gin, made with fresh botanicals and spices, can be precisely the same.
Q: As the demand for liquors is slowly spreading to Tier-2 cities and not just metros, do you see an opportunity in the Indian market for Indian gin brands there?
A: Yes. A lot of people moved from metros to their hometowns. The people who move back to Tier-2 or Tier-3 cities do know what they want. They have started asking us to launch in their own cities. It is increasing and education is a very important factor for it.
Q: What are your plans to take the brand global?
A: Our primary concern is to be in retail outlets before we reach bars. For the past year in Goa, we’ve been trying to crack the retail market because if it’s a hit with consumers, bars will follow. We’re launching in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Daman and Diu, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Q: Can you shed some light on how the brand practices sustainability?
A: As of now, whatever we do is ensuring we reduce the carbon footprint significantly. Looking at botanicals procured, they come directly from farmers from various parts of the country.
We’re the only brand in Goa which wastes less than 1% of water as most of it is recirculated. The water used for cooling and distilling is reused. We have started installing solar panels. We are trying to use the spent grains from producing gin to make cattle feed.
Q: What would you advise an entrepreneur wanting to get into the premium drinks industry today?
A: The only advice I can give is if you want to start something in the alcohol business in India, keep at it. It’s worth putting in that effort if you’re passionate about it.
GinGin is not just hemp, but a blend of nine botanicals including lavender, lemongrass and cinnamon. For gin enthusiasts and newbies, this might be a great spirit if you’re looking for something clean yet complex.
To watch the whole conversation please go to our YouTube channel where you'll find all of our 'In My Experiences' videos with a number of inspiring and interesting Indian entrepreneur. Click here to watch Shubham's story of perseverence and innovation.