Cherrapunji Eastern Craft Gin
When t2 met Mayukh Hazarika, the co-owner and CEO of Cherrapunji Eastern Craft Gin (by the Raincheck Earth Co. and its Dutch counterpart) in Shillong on our last visit, we discovered his love for dogs. On a recent visit, we took a good sip of his finely crafted gin too and were totally mesmerised by it. The citrusy notes, a smooth juniper base and the flavour of smoked tea of the gin typically captured the essence of Cherrapunji in it. It’s crafted with local ingredients like forest peppers, kagji lebu from Guwahati, smoked tea from Manipur, amongst others.
CHERRAPUNJI EASTERN CRAFT GIN
In an era where concrete jungles and smog are overpowering our senses, eco-friendly production and sustainability have become the need of the hour. The seven-week-old gin from Cherrapunji has put a lot of thought into the production. Instead of using groundwater, they harvest rainwater to make the gin: a step towards the prevention of scarcity of water in Cherrapunji and Mawsynram in the Northeast faced during the dry months. You’d taste the freshness of the rainwater in it. They also use the lightest bottle weighing about 148g made with military-grade stainless steel, so that people could reuse the bottle.
“It took me some time to understand my life’s purpose. But once I did I realised nothing but nature and all the things it has to offer to us is my priority. Cherrapunji Gin is like an effort and totally my baby, a product-driven by my urge to give something back to nature. So what we do is we use rainwater from the rainiest part of the earth and botanicals from Sohra, and such botanicals have never been used to prepare gin. I’m the master distiller myself and collaborated with another master distiller from the Netherlands, who has designed the formula. Our core value as a company is sustainability and we probably have the lightest spirit bottle on earth, which I want people to use as a water bottle after the product finishes. My key idea is to take the Northeast and Cherrapunji to the parts of the globe from where people are unable to make it here,” said Mayukh Hazarika, co-founder and CEO
A combination of the local taste and natural products, the gin is all set for a global launch in 2024. Get your bottle for Rs 2,500.
Jong Hi Wine
While strolling near Ward’s Lake in Shillong, Meghalaya, on the sidelines of our visit to the Shillong Literary Festival 2023 in mid-November, we came across beautiful cherry blossom trees covered in pink and relished piping hot momos and Khasi, Garo, Naga and other local cuisines. One of the coolest finds, however, was probably Jong Hi Wine. Homemade wines made of fresh fruits grown and harvested in Monhavre, Mawlai Pata, in Meghalaya. 'Jong hi' in Khasi means “our own” and quite rightly so as the founder, Nicholas Shangpliang and his family run this winery to produce flavourful wine from locally sourced ingredients. They usually source fruits from the local villages (an effort to ensure that they don’t run at a loss due to the middlemen involved). Starting from rice wine and fruit wine to squash wine and ginger wine, the collection has a variety. They currently have 12 flavours with 21 under research. The wines are produced with a special focus on hygiene and quality.
Jong Hi Wine belongs to a family that comes from an agricultural background, and when in 2017 they were unable to sell their produce, was born the wine. “So we thought, what’ll we do with this ginger? And, we thought of turning it into some sort of ginger wine as we knew the recipe. It turned out pretty good, so the next year we started experimenting with other local fruits and that’s what we love doing,” said the Bani Bienvenu Massar, Nicholas Shangpliang son, who currently runs the business.
"Wine is a living thing for me. It's always reacting, if you don't make it with proper hygiene it won't turn out well. I think our speciality is fresh raw materials and their quality. The taste turns out to be impeccable," said Bani Bienvenu Massar, founder Nicholas Shangpliang's son
We tasted their finest, like the Sohiong (a red wine, that’s two years old), Sohphoh Khasi (a white wine that’s two-and-a-half-years old), the Mulberry flavour, the plum wine and the rice wine as well. As we rolled it in our mouths, we felt its warmth and a burst of flavours, not so bitter, not too sweet.