Love at first sip
The genesis of mead can be traced back to 7,000 BC in North China. The Grecians venerated the ferment as ambrosia or nectar of the gods.
Remember when Gandalf took wizard glugs of mead in Tolkien’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit (the prologue to Lord of the Rings)? Or when the gigantic Hagrid ordered four pints of the mulled version at a bar in Rowling’s Harry Potter series? If you’ve been mooning over the ferment that the Vikings drank from intricate horns, get ready to sip on the mead, or honey wine, on home turf now as Rohan Rehani and Nitin Vishwas, co-founders, Moonshine Meadery, bring in toe-curling ferments to woo your senses.
The genesis of mead can be traced back to 7,000 BC in North China. The Grecians venerated the ferment as ambrosia or nectar of the gods. The Vikings brewed their own wine, beer and mead. In Norse mythology, mead is a mythical beverage that makes you capable of solving any question, by drinking it. Why the name Moonshine? “When we started out on our mead-making quest, the common reaction we earned was —‘Hope you aren’t making hooch/moonshine’,” laughs Vishwas.
“Moonshine was a term associated with illicit alcohol during the prohibition era. Both Rohan and I agreed that it has a cool ring to it, and the name just stuck!” The duo had their first mead they made in 2014. “No, it’s not beer even though it comes bottled in amber pints a la beer. It is honey that has been fermented over a period of time,” says Rehani.
Since fermented honey forms the core of the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, sourcing the best bee-made goody gains special importance. “We get our honey from all across the country, primarily from the northern belt,” Rehani shares. “There are 300-odd bee boxes under the Moonshine Honey Project that give us a single variety of honey, some of which we ferment, the rest we package and sell. We collaborate with people who practise natural farming, and make use of locally available fruits in our meads,” he says. Water is added to create a yeast-friendly environment since honey can stay preserved for years and years. “The fermentation takes between 10-14 days after which it is filtered, carbonated and bottled,” explains Rehani.
With the mead mart globally pegged at $500 million and growing at 11 percent, it is a sweet takeaway for what started out as a passion project. Moonshine has set foot in 900 outlets pan-India and is eyeing the northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh now. “As mead fits into the white space that exists between flavourful, non-alcoholic fizzy drinks, and alcoholic, bitter beverages like commercial beer, we started contemplating if we could turn this into a business.
The Indian market didn’t have an alcoholic beverage that was focused on flavour. It seemed like a logical progression for us to start out with Moonshine in 2016,” says Rehani. Bereft of grains, mead is gluten-free, and the infusion of spices, fruits, and hops brings a matrix of flavours to the rather versatile, mildly carbonated complexion of mead. “This focus of crafting flavourful beverages using all-natural ingredients did not exist in the Indian alcohol space earlier,” points out Vishwas.
What’s next? “We have been working on high alcohol meads using speciality honey, for the last two years and will be launching these over the next couple of months,” they sum up.