Nishant Sharma has not forgotten his second home—Assam. And to keep the legacy of his grandparents alive, Nishant Kumar, who has lived all his life in Scotland, has used Oolong tea from Assam in a gin- which is the world’s first chai-infused gin which was launched at Edinburgh recently.

Rutland Square Gin is a premium boutique craft gin carefully created in Edinburgh (Scotland), drawing inspiration from the East. The Rutland Square Gin is first in the portfolio and is currently being distilled at Summerhall Distillery in Edinburgh city centre.

Named after the home of the Indian Consulate in Edinburgh, Rutland Square, the premium craft gin draws inspiration from the East and includes a blend of 14 of the finest botanicals, including Oolong white tea, giving the gin a sweet and unique taste.

Gin’s main ingredient is juniper berries, and the flavour and combination of that work pretty well with tea. Along with Juniper berries, there are so many ingredients that might go in. Some might have cinnamon, some star anise, some black pepper, and so overall, it makes it compatible to make it match with tea.

The Oolong tea is from the Dibrugarh district in Assam, from where the founder of Rutland Square Gin Nishant Sharma’s grandparents came. Nishant Sharma set out to revive his Great Grandfather, Tej Ram’s spirit enterprise, born in the 1940s in Northeast India. Tej was an Indian spirit entrepreneur and visionary who distilled gin and blended whisky in Dibrugarh, Assam – a city which is famous the world over for tea. Dibrugarh is also called the Tea City of India.

The company on its website says Tej started his journey in Assam, the land of tea farms. In his early days as a teenager, he worked in the forest department until his entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his own business blending and creating spirits.

“Tej would buy single malt whisky from the British officers stationed in Assam and blend it with his local whisky, obsessively mixing and layering tastes and aromas. He cultivated his skills as a craftsman of liquor, creating a complex blend adapted to the subtle Indian palate. His enterprise was at its peak when Britain left India, which resulted in changes to the licencing act which forced him to shut his doors,” it says.

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea, and there are numerous ways of making it depending on the varietal, terroir and season. They fall between black tea and green tea and are sweet.

The Oolong tea used in the gin is from the Halmari tea estate, which is known for getting the highest prices in tea auctions for several years now. Assam tea is a common ingredient in tea blends.  

Nishant has lived in Scotland all his life, but his grandparents lived and worked in Assam. “He goes back whenever he can to visit and considers it his second home,” an official from the company said.

Nishant Sharma says: “I’m so proud to be bringing this product to market nationally and eventually, internationally. It’s a product close to my heart which honours my Great Grandfather Tej’s legacy.”

“We use the finest botanicals in our gin, sourced carefully and sustainably from across the world, the purest Scottish water and most importantly, tea from Dibrugarh; the very city where my Great Grandfather started his distilling business all those years ago. It is a story that starts in India and travels across the globe to Scotland, mixing two cultures to create a delicious and memorable flavour you won’t forget!” the company said in a statement.

Tea was used to infuse with gin to honour Nishant’s legacy and to take his customers on a journey from India to Scotland – focusing on his heritage, history and great love of travel.

“Perfect for sipping and savouring, our Chai Spiced Gin is the first spirit in our portfolio, so keep your eyes peeled for our other exciting releases from Rutland Square Gin coming out later this year,” Nishant told EastMojo.

The whole-leaf Oolong white tea has a rich floral aroma with a rich yet clean and fresh liquor. The gin also includes fresh juniper, cubeb peppers, caraway seeds, angelica and vetiver root, cardamom and star-anise with notes of liquorice, lemon and orange peel and ginger. The royal gold and white packaging and stout bottling of the gin spell out ultimate luxury and pure regalia.

Rich Dodgin, who tasted the gin, told EastMojo, “It is a wonderful gin that offers something different. As a fan of gin that offers something different, I was really excited to hear about this ‘Chai Spiced Indian Gin’ and couldn’t wait to try it. And I’m delighted to say that it tastes even more amazing than I’d hoped – smooth and zesty, with a beautiful mix of rich earthy notes and subtle spiciness. Very highly recommended for gin lovers everywhere.”

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