- Shuchir Suri & Anjali Batra, the force behind Gin Explorers Club, tell Gurgl what it means to expand to Mumbai, growing from the first edition in 2018 and more
When Gin Explorers Club (GEC) first started in 2018, the event heralded the coming-of-age of Indian craft gins that began with Greater Than and that has by now taken over the bar industry through various different brands, with rice-grain based Terai and Tamras being the latest entrants among over a dozen or so craft Indian gins.
GEC itself survived the pandemic and held its first full-blown offline event in Delhi in March this year that industry watchers raved about for weeks later. Now, with its first expansion in Mumbai, co-founders Shuchir Suri and Anjali Batra are expanding the club and its mandate beyond Delhi with the hope that they can replicate their success model once again.
Excerpts from an interview featuring the duo:
1 – Tell us more about coming to Mumbai for the first time.
After four editions in New Delhi, we’re finally taking our first step to expansion. Mumbai has been on our radar for a while, and we’re elated with the response the city has been giving and we’re super excited to interact with a new audience and give the city their very first spirit specific festival and go all out and we get Mumbai to interact with, sip, experience, and kickstart their gin experience.
2 – How has GEC grown from its first edition in 2018 until now?
When we launched Gin Explorers Club in 2018, the idea was simple: create an experience that would kickstart a gin-versation in the community and get people to interact with, sip, experience and explore various Gin brands. The first edition of Gin Explorer’s Club saw seven Gin brands with 4000 attendees at the festival. The second edit in 2019 showcased nine Gin brands, with an increased attendee count of 10,000. The third edition in 2020 garnered 12 brands onboard and over 15,000 attendees. And coming back in 2022, we saw Delhi come to celebrate their love for the spirit after a long hiatus. We saw 16 Gin brands come on board, so with the festival growing every year, Gin Explorer’s Club can now proudly claim to be India’s biggest Gin Festival.
3 – How has the craft Indian gin revolution helped GEC?
What’s exciting is that Gin is a spirit for everyone—vodka drinkers, whiskey drinkers, beer drinkers—everyone likes to try and explore different Gins no matter what their spirit of choice is. The love for the spirit has grown immensely as Goa single-handedly saw over ten local brands coming up, which at the time of inception of Gin Explorers Club was only a single brand – Greater Than. Because of the growth in the category within India, we have a lot more to offer, there were seven international brands at our first festival and the last one saw 16 gins, and it’s mostly increasing offerings, ever-growing exciting category of homegrown gins.
The love for the spirit has grown immensely in half a decade; Gin Explorers Club is the ideal platform. It allows Gin enthusiasts and newbies alike to come to sip, experience and explore this most unusual spirit.
4 – Shuchir opened a mixer business looking at the potential of G&Ts, right?
Globally, we saw colossal importance and innovation in the beverage segment, and this is something that we saw the gap in India—this is where Jade Forest came to life. We wanted to create drinks that were great tasting and in the ‘better-for-you category. So, with Jade Forest, the idea is to bring a holistic change to how people consume beverages by introducing a range of options in the “better-for-you” beverage category. Our go-to-market was mixers, but we’re entering the ready-to-drink category with our recent launches of Premium Iced Teas and Original Ginger Ale.
5 – What makes India such a gin-loving country?
India as a country has a strong flavour palette with our culinary landscape being very diverse and we as a community have an inclination towards ingredients, flavours and especially spices. Gin as a spirit celebrates these three elements, and with every Gin being an amalgamation of botanicals—they are all so different, and I think that’s why we love it.
6 – What were some major challenges/differences of organising GEC in Mumbai after establishing yourself in Delhi?
Mumbai as a city has a diverse community, and Delhi is our home, so like every new phase of life—this has had its challenges, but the love we’re receiving from the city and the excitement we’re seeing built up ahead of the festival makes it all worth it. And we’re ready to give Mumbai an experience like no other and make them fall in love with Gin.
7 – Tell us about some of the most memorable moments at GEC over the past editions.
I always go back to the first one; on Day 2, it started raining, and our hearts sank. We were worried that people would leave. But the oddest thing happened, one hand on their glasses, the other one up swaying to the music. People just stayed and had a blast. It was at that moment that we knew we had created something magical.
Another special memory has got to be a month back in Delhi. We saw the city come out and rejoice as people came back, and our festival came alive again after a long hiatus.
8 – What are some things gin lovers cannot miss at GEC Mumbai?
We’re excited to bring Mumbaikers a juniper-fuelled exploration as they discover homegrown gins like Tamras, Doja, Jaisalmer, and Samsara and international Gins like Roku, Tanqueray, Hendricks and many more.
GEC is about the gin, but also so much more. An exciting lineup of music acts, fun engagements and interactions and, of course, a fabulous selection of pop-up restaurants; we bring you an array of flavours from Italian to Asian and make sure you have the best of everything—all under one roof.
9 – With new gins still launching in the country, what is the future potential of the spirit in general and GEC in particular?
There has been a refreshing wave of homegrown gins since the inception of Gin Explorers Club. We started with one brand when we first kicked off GEC, and now there are over ten brands, and the space is buzzing. The ever-growing sea of new Gin is building and expanding a category within India and putting Indian Gin on the global map.
By default, this has impacted us in the best way, as GEC is a platform that brings together brands under one roof, allowing us to present more brands at each festival. Come sip, experience and explore the spirit.
10 – Are there plans to go to other cities after Mumbai with GEC?
Yes, we’re looking forward to expanding to four cities by the end of this year – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa. Three years from now, Gin Explorers Club strives to turn into an annual property amidst these four cities in India marked on people’s calendars and go global with pop-ups to other countries such as London, Singapore, Australia and more.
The Mumbai edition of Gin Explorers Club is scheduled for May 7 and 8 at Mahalaxmi Race Course grounds. Tickets for the event are available on Insider.
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Priyanko Sarkar is the Founder Editor of Gurgl.in. He has been a writer for over 15 years and this site is his attempt to document India's growing beverage sector with impactful and interesting stories. His favourite drink is Vietnamese Coffee and his favourite spirit is Turkish Raki.