What did you do before creating Rutland Square Gin?
I started my working carrier waiting tables at the Ashoka group of restaurants in Glasgow. After completing my education, I slowly ventured into financial services; this is where the wind was. I have successfully worked on various asset management corporations such as BlackRock Plc, Lloyds, HSBC securities, etc.
What made you decide to create your gin, and what's the inspiration behind your gin?
After investing over nine years in banking with no fulfilment, I went on the search to find my true north star. During my visit to India for my grandmother’s funeral, I learned about my family history of distilling spirits, where I realised that alcohol was in the blood. My great-grandfather had created his brand of whisky from his small distillery by purchasing Scotch malts from officers stationed in the city in that era and blending it with Indian grain whisky.
After being exposed to the family enterprise, I wanted to kick start my journey; on my way back home to Edinburgh, I took a 2-day stay at The Leela Palace hotel in New Delhi, sitting at their The Library Bar with a Cohiba Robusto I looked around people sipping whisky with their cigars. I have always been a Gin lover, and an idea strikes in my mind, why there are not sipping Gins which can be paired with Cigars? I come home with this thought and start researching and find nothing, and this is how the journey begins.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
I wanted to kickstart our journey as soon as possible; with the bootstrap approach, I rolled my sleeves and put all my life savings from employment into creating a concept and brand identity. Investment into setting up a new distillery was out of scope purely due to resource reasons; hence I decided to make the Gin by contractually collaborating with the team at the Summerhall Distillery in Edinburgh, home of Pickering’s Gin. With the help of Matt Gammell, who helped me tweak my final recipe into creating the world first Oolong infused Chai Spiced Scottish Gin, which can be sipped over ice and can be paired with a cigar.
Can you tell us more about the distillation process and botanicals?
I wanted to create a genuinely Scottish Gin, which also paid tribute to my ancestors, something unique in its sense. In the next couple of months in 2018, I took multiple trips to India, visiting cities from Punjab to Assam, handpicking botanicals from each area that my ancestors had walked upon, and botanicals used in day-to-day life such as food, medicine, tea, almost everything. When I arrived back home in Edinburgh, I had around 36 botanicals in my bag and no idea what to do.
I started testing this by creating several reiterations of the recipe after 12 months of R&D and consulting various agencies, distillers & Universities; I had my final recipe, which was predominantly making the strong influence of the Oolong first flush white tea from the city of Dibrugarh Assam, land of tea estates. This process added character to my gin, Oolong from Dibrugarh gives the gin a rich floral aroma with clear and fresh liquor. Vetiver roots give the gin fragrances such as dry lemongrass, leaving notes of dry, earthy, woody, leathery and smokey flavour. The gin also includes fresh juniper, cubeb peppers, caraway seeds, angelica root, cardamom, and star anise with notes of liquorice, lemon and orange peel and ginger.
How would you describe Rutland Square Gin in 3 words?
Smooth, refreshing, and bold.
What have been the most significant challenges and achievements so far?
Starting a self-employment journey leaving behind a stable and well-paid job with a four-year-old son in the pandemic has been full of challenges and surprises. Finding the right people from all walks of life and collaborating within limited resources has been rewarding and a learning curve. Finding the right people was the most significant challenge as not everyone understands your vision. Creating and launching Rutland Square Gin has been my most important achievement; having this opportunity to share my story through a product is by far my favourite part, and I hope people can equally enjoy this as I have creating this.
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
I love Rutland Square Gin in various ways, sometimes just on the rocks or with a dash of ginger beer to open the oolong aroma, and with a lovely, aged cigar. Sometimes with Mediterranean tonic water with an orange peel garnish or an old fashioned style Cocktail.
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own, of course!)?
Besides Rutland Square Gin, I love Lind & Lime Gin and Theodore Pictish Gin.
What's next for you and Rutland Square Gin - any exciting plans?
I have a few other unique and unforgettable travel-inspired botanicals in my basket, which I would like to explore as each new botanical has a story to tell. We, as a business, are currently focusing on building Rutland Square Chai Spiced Gin a strong foundation so that people can enjoy what we have created before we introduce something new. We are also slowly building our distillery, which is part of our plan for 2023.
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