The views in this review has not been influenced by anyone at Gin Wala. They are all our own views and we have not been paid for this post.
Back in April we attended the Wine and Spirits show in London, and while we think this show is aimed more towards the wine market, they did have a handful of gin brands there who we managed to catch up with.
Tucked away in the corner of the room situated next to a table of craft beers, there was a table which had a couple of gins we hadn’t seen before. One bottle in particular stood out to us, it had a picture of an Indian Man on the label wearing a style of turban which we think is called a Pagdi. From the labelling and name, we assumed it would be the style of gin that Mrs Bandit likes to go for (we’ve mentioned in the past she loves a spiced gin with a strong presence of cardamom, similar to the taste of an Opihr and 6 O'clock Brunel Edition) so we asked to try it. As soon as we tasted this gin, our first question was “Where can we buy a bottle?”. We were given the business card of Sandeep, who is the man behind Gin Wala and he was kind enough to send us a bottle to review and also gave us some of his time to explain the story behind this wonderful gin.
Hey Sandeep, before we jump into the story of Gin Wala, can you tell us about London Spice Company?
London Spice Company was set up as a holding company/brand to explore something I love most - spices. The first product born from this brought together two of my favourite things, gin and chai.
Okay, we thought maybe you had a spice business and Gin Wala was your offering to the spirit market. We came across Gin Wala at the Wine and Spirits Show in London, but unfortunately we didn’t get to meet you guys. How did Gin Wala end up the show and who are the team behind it?
Gin Wala came late to the party so we were on the experimentation stand there. We got some great feedback and will be attending future events. The team is mainly myself with the support of family and friends.
Amazing, we tried a number of different new gins that day and Gin Wala really stood out. That spiced style of gin is a big favourite of Mrs Bandit. What inspired you to make your own gin?
As I mentioned, I have a love for gin, chai and spices and therefore combined the two to deliver Gin Wala. I love spiced foods but don’t enjoy getting full up by drinking beers with my meals and don’t always want wine. I do however love a G&T with my meal but didn’t feel there was one out there which complimented the flavours but was smooth and very drinkable, even neat.
Your chosen botanicals are influenced by Indian culture. Can you tell us what was the inspiration behind them and how long the final recipe took to perfect?
Every Indian household has their own family chai masala recipe often passed down from generation to generation. All vary slightly differently and are dependent on personal tastes. The choice of spices in Gin Wala are based on my mother’s own recipe which has been passed down over time. You get the hit of spice from the black pepper and ginger with a sweetness from the cinnamon and cardamom and a smoothness from the vanilla. Gin Wala, being inspired by chai, is distilled with a good quality Assam black tea.
Who’s in charge of the Gin Wala distillation process?
We searched for the right partner for Gin Wala and the distillery we decided to partner with was the English Spirit Distillery. They are one of the original small batch distillers and their focus is on producing the highest quality spirits. The Master distiller and founder is Dr John Walters, a former Biochemist with a love for quality spirits.
What inspired the imagery on the label?
The image is inspired by the Chai Wala. They are the Indian master craftsmen who brew sweet, spicy, creamy tea to the masses from street stalls or small roadside shops. That is also the inspiration behind the name ‘Gin Wala’. Inspired by the Chai Wala serving tea to the thirsty commuters - Gin Wala brings the story up to date by serving gin to the people in bars and restaurants. The actual design was brought to life by a brilliant creative agency run by a friend of mine called Platform www.platformcan.com
So, you’ve been in the gin market for around 18 months now. Can you tell us what the biggest challenge was that you’ve faced since establishing Gin Wala?
There are many gins in the market and there has been a push for ‘flavoured gins’ often without a focus on quality. When I have spoken to bars and restaurants, the first thing I hear is the number of gins that pass by them every week. So standing out is a challenge but once people try Gin Wala, then the job is so much easier and we’ve been blown away with the feedback to date. Gin Wala is first and foremost a quality premium London Dry Gin.
Can you let our followers know the best serving suggestion for your gin?
As I mentioned, Gin Wala has been crafted to be smooth enough to have as a sipping gin. When you add a good quality tonic the gin opens up and you get the dryness of the tea coming through. I like it best served garnished with an orange slice or peel. Other fans have recommended grapefruit, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ginger etc. It is very flexible. In addition to classic tonics, other good quality flavoured ones such as the Clementine and Cinnamon and Aromatic tonics from Fever Tree, the grapefruit tonic from Franklins and the Pink Peppercorn tonic from Merchant’s Heart work really well. Ginger ales and Ginger beers also work very well. In addition, it serves well as a hot toddy served with cloudy apple for example.
Gin Wala is also very versatile as the star in a lot of different cocktails such as a gin fizz, spiced negroni, old fashioned, chaitini etc.
Thanks for your time Sandeep, it has been great to catch up with yoyu and to understand a bit more about Gin Wala. If our followers/readers want to get their hand on a bottle, where can they pick up one up?
You can buy a bottle of Gin Wala directly from the website www.theginwala.com/buy. In addition its currently being served at a number of excellent bars and restaurants in London and surrounding areas.
How does it taste?
Gin Wala is a London dry gin with a nice amount of juniper. When tasted neat, bold flavours of cardamom, ginger and pepper lead the with sweet undertones from the vanilla and cinnamon. With the addition of tonic, juniper and cardamom are still the dominant taste, however it enhances a sweet, but earthy tannin flavour from the Assam tea finished off with a honey type sweetness which must come from the use of vanilla. We both agree that Gin Wala is an amazing gin which is full of flavour. If you enjoy a spiced style of gin, this one is definitely for you.