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Delicious Dining Awards 2022: Honouring The Best In Homegrown Beverages

For years, culinary enthusiasts have maintained that food pairings are integral to the very dining experience. Understanding this, the third edition of Travel + Leisure India & South Asia’s readers’ choice Delicious Dining Awards (DDA 2022) saw the inception of a whole new category: beverages and spirits.

Delicious Dining Awards (DDA) 2022, organised by Travel + Leisure India & South Asia, highlights, celebrates, and awards India’s best restaurants, bars, beverages, and personalities, as chosen by those who know the Indian culinary scene best—You! Over the years, the celebrations have seen the best restaurants from the culinary industry find a spot on the coveted list. This year, things were bigger, better, and fresher!

In a first for the publication, Delicious Dining Awards 2022 felicitated the best homegrown beverages and spirits as chosen by readers through an online voting process. The three-month-long cut-throat competition, however, was preceded by intense discussions.

An expert panel — consisting of Ashish Kapur (restaurateur and founder of Whisky Samba, Antares Beachclub, The Wine Company, and Cafe Mez), Karina Agarwal (founder-director of Gigglewater Beverage Concepts Pvt. Ltd.) and Yangdup Lama (bartender and co-founder of Sidecar, Delhi; Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy, Gurgaon; and Café Lungta, Gurgaon) — sifted through many homegrown spirits brands to cull out the best of the lot. Factors such as craftsmanship, uniqueness, and popularity were some of the driving forces of this shortlisting. After all, an expert-eye and palate understand premium spirits best! The result? A shortlist of some of the best homegrown wines, best homegrown whiskeys, best homegrown beers, most innovative spirits and more!

On the beverages front, readers were given the choice of nominating their favourites. This included the best non-alcoholic mixers, best Indian tonic waters, best homegrown tea brand, and best homegrown coffee brand.

The fierce battle ended with a celebration and awards ceremony at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity on July 19. But who won and got the most votes? Check it out below!

The best homegrown beverage brands in India

1
BEST HOMEGROWN COFFEE BRAND - Blue Tokai Coffee

What makes Blue Tokai distinctive is its mission to bring out the best quality coffee by consistently researching, testing, and implementing best practices. Blue Tokai sources the best quality coffee beans from estates across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The company works closely with a Q-Grade certified Director of Coffee to create industry-leading procedures such as cupping every single batch that is roasted to ensure consistent quality. Transparency is an important part of Blue Tokai; the baristas are always present to discuss brewing tips, the customer service team is there to walk you through your coffee questions, and the roasting team shows you how they work.

2
BEST HOMEGROWN COFFEE BRAND - Araku Coffee

Grown in the ancestral terroir located in Araku Valley highlands in the Eastern Ghats of India, Araku Coffee is the first 100 per cent organic single-origin coffee from India. A brand brought together by farmers and coffee experts, it is pure arabica with a rare aromatic profile combining smoothness, balance, and roundness. Coffee expert and coffee lover, Hippolyte Courty, who joined Araku in 2013, uses his taste and expertise to identify different terroirs in the Valley of Araku, classify the parcels, and combine varieties of coffee to obtain the best and most balanced product.

3
BEST HOMEGROWN TEA BRAND - VAHDAM® India

With a legacy of over 80 years in the tea industry, VAHDAM® India sources premium teas and superfoods from renowned gardens in India. Founder and CEO of the brand, Bala Sarda, aims to take India’s native treasures to the entire world. VAHDAM® India is a climate-neutral and plastic-neutral certified brand, and its tea is packaged fresh at the source and shipped directly to your doorstep without the involvement of middlemen. From green and turmeric teas to matcha, iced, and herbal teas, the brand offers a diverse collection. Every time you purchase a VAHDAM® India product, one per cent of the revenue goes towards the education of their farmers’ children.

4
BEST INDIAN TONIC WATER - Svami

A Mumbai-based brand, Svami offers the first craft tonics from India, along with a range of non-alcoholic drinks. Svami tonic water emerged as a result of the rising popularity of gin and tonic, and the need to have better mixers. The tonic water comes in different flavours, including cucumber and grapefruit. Using the finest locally-sourced natural ingredients and botanicals, Svami’s quality tonic is the perfect combination for your favourite drinks. High on quinine and lime, the tonic pairs well with juniper-forward gins, vodka, tequila, and mezcal.

5
BEST NON-ALCOHOLIC MIXER - Kati Patang

Kati Patang’s non-alcoholic sparkling cocktails are packed with flavours. Titled ‘NOT drinks’, they perfectly imitate three classic drinks—Gin & Tonic, Cosmopolitan, and Old Fashioned. While NOT Gin & Tonic masterfully blends the aroma and sweetness of juniper, freshness of lemon and basil, and hints of tonic bitterness, NOT Cosmopolitan drink combines the tartness of cranberry, triple sec, and sweet notes of orange. None of these drinks have any artificial flavouring, preservatives, or sweeteners, and are made with natural extracts and botanicals. At a time when non-alcoholic drinks are becoming widely popular among millennials and Gen-Z, Kati Patang’s NOT drinks are a real game-changer.

6
MOST INNOVATIVE SPIRITS FORMAT - TiLT, Fratelli

A fun, quirky drink by Fratelli, TiLT is wine in a can, and can be enjoyed anywhere. It comes in four different flavours: red, white, bubbly, and bubbly rosé. Made from indigenous grape varieties, TiLT pays particular attention to easy drinkability and freshness. The concept is inspired by the French Beaujoulais winemaking style and harmonises flavours of lemon and passion fruit. With fun can designs and novel flavours, TiLT is youthful, and the high point of any party.

7
MOST INNOVATIVE SPIRITS FORMAT - No Sleep Greater Than Gin

Greater Than Gin is the only London Dry Gin made in India. Botanicals sourced from India and around the world are distilled in a copper pot. The brand launched No Sleep, a coffee-infused gin, in 2022. A limited release, it brings together two of India’s beloved beverages—gin and coffee. Beans for the cold brew are 100 per cent Arabica coffee from Chikmagalur, Karnataka. This is blended with the gin distillate to produce notes of red cherries at first, followed by salted caramel on the palate and delicately spiced finish with hints of pink peppercorn.

8
BEST WHISKY - Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Amrut Fusion is a single malt whisky that was launched in 2009. Amrut Distilleries Private Limited, based in Bengaluru, was founded by the late Mr Radhakrishna Jagdale in 1948, as a small liquor blending and bottling unit. Heavy, thickly oaked, and complex, the drink has some barley-sugar notes shrouded in soft smoke. At the Amrut distillery in Bengaluru, the blended product is aged in a mix of new and used American oak barrels. The whisky uses two types of barley—Indian and Scottish—that gives it the name. With several accolades, Amrut is a prominent name in whiskies.

9
BEST WHISKY - Rampur Select Indian Single Malt Whisky

Rampur is an Indian single malt whisky that takes forward the rich heritage of Rampur and the 75 years of distillation expertise. Handcrafted and aged in the foothills of Himalayas, Rampur Select Indian Single Malt Whisky is known as the kohinoor of single malts. The nose begins with a rich fruity top note, toffee in the background, floral, honey, dried fruits, and a hint of spice. It has a round, balanced taste with a palate rich in malty and creamy vanilla. The famous Indian summer gives Rampur an added dimension and depth.

10
BEST GIN - Hapusa

Hapusa comes from a Sanskrit word which means juniper and it resonates with the gin’s aroma and flavours. A Himalayan dry gin from a state-of-the-art distillery in Goa, Hapusa is made using foraged Himalayan juniper berries and Indian botanicals, which are added in a one-shot method to the still named Agatha (meaning ‘good hearted’ in Hungarian), Hapusa is distinctively Indian. It is a sipping gin with notes of wildflowers and pine trees on the nose, bold earthiness on the palate, and a delicately spiced finish.

11
BEST GIN - TERAI India Dry Gin

Using a traditional one-shot London Dry method, TERAI India Dry Gin is made with 11 botanicals sourced mainly from Khari Baoli—Asia’s largest spice market. It begins with lush green notes lifted by citrus zest. This is followed by a characteristic floral bouquet and a sweet and piney juniper aroma. On the palate, sweet and herbaceous flavours are balanced by a dry spice and savoury finish. From the stopper handcrafted by artisans of Channapatna and the bottle inspired by the pillars of ancient Indian architecture to the label influenced by designs of vintage Indian coins, TERAI India Dry Gin embodies India.

12
BEST RUM - Maka Zai

Maka Zai from Stilldistilling Spirits was founded in 2020, and is nourished by the waters of Goa. Its small-batch artisanal wonders—white and gold rum—both of which are worth your time and money have made it a quick favourite among Indians. Made with sugarcane grown in and around the Panchaganga river in Maharashtra, the white rum is sweet, spicy, and herbaceous with influences from the red soil of the region. The gold rum has notes of praline, dry dates, figs, caramel, cinnamon, and honey, along with a creamy mouthfeel and a well-rounded vanilla accent.

13
BEST RUM - Segredo Aldeia Rum

The story of Segredo Aldeia begins from a village in the tropical woodlands of Portuguese Goa that was famous for its rum. Segredo Aldeia translates to ‘secret village’ in Portuguese, and it takes inspiration from the rich and diverse history of Goa. It has two editions—white rum and cafe rum. The white rum has vanilla, sweet wood, and toffee notes on the nose; and herbs, peaches, and cream on the palate. The cafe rum is infused with dark roasted whole coffee beans and has a deep amber appearance. On the nose are hints of toffee and vanilla, and it has a wood and dark chocolate finish.

14
BEST BEER - Bira 91 White

Bira 91 White is a deliciously unique wheat beer that is based on the traditional Belgian-style wheat ale. With a touch of sweetness, acidic citrus aromas, and a spicy finish, Bira 91 White is made with fine Indian wheat malt and spiced with Latin-American orange peels and Indian coriander seeds. Over 500 towns in the country currently enjoy Bira 91 beer, which is brewed in four different Indian breweries. It undoubtedly is one of the hippest beers of this generation.

15
BEST BEER - Goa Brewing Co. Peoples Lager

When it comes to beer production, Goa Brewing Co. is a ‘non-conformist’ homegrown brand that defies all previously set standards. They brew small batch, seasonal farm-to-barrel beers from their brewery inside an old Indo-Portuguese house in Sangolda. All the beers have natural ingredients. Peoples Lager is one such exemplary production. It is created using heirloom rice varieties in Goa, and infused with the finest ingredients native to the region.

16
BEST WHITE WINE - Sula Chenin Blanc

Sula is India’s leading wine company, spearheading the charge of Indian wine across the world. A refreshing white wine that is light and easy to drink, Sula Chenin Blanc has the flavours of rich tropical fruits with hints of honey and some residual sugar, which gives it a touch of sweetness. The wines are produced in the vineyards of Nashik, which are home to India’s finest grapes. Under the guidance of its founder, the Chenin Blanc wine is made with the ultimate respect for the environment, following strict sustainable practices. The sustainable vineyards also ensure fair livelihoods for Sula’s community of farmers across Maharashtra and Karnataka.

17
BEST RED WINE - KRSMA Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

The name KRSMA Estates (pronounced Kris – Ma) is derived from the names of its owners Krishna and Uma. The estate’s red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, is the first vintage from the vineyard, and its most celebrated wine. Crafted in a state-of-the-art winery in Karnataka, it is made from fully ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The wine is deep purple in colour with a medium to full-bodied palate. The red wine has notes of cassis, star anise, liquorice and undertones of mocha and dark cocoa, and rounds off on the palate with well-structured black tea tannins and subtle French oak.

18
BEST SPARKLING WINE - Chandon Brut

Chandon is the first offering from Moët Hennessy to be made in India. The winery has been designed by MAP Architecture’s Edward Billson in the picturesque Nashik foothills on the outskirts of Dindori. With a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, Chandon Brut wines have notes of citrus blossom, green apple, and hints of tropical fruits and vanilla. To  develop complexity and character, they go through whole-bunch pressing and spend 12 months on the lees before disgorging. It is the only Chandon estate to use Chenin Blanc in its Brut.

 

Hero and Featured Image: Courtesy of Anna Kumpan/Unsplash 

All other images: Courtesy brands

Related: Looking For The Best Chole Bhature In Delhi? Head To These Spots

Delicious Dining Awards 2022: Honouring The Best In Homegrown Beverages
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