Brews & Spirits

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Mahua is a category in itself

Mahua is a category in itself Ajay Nagarajan (left), CEO of Windmills Craftworks, and Desmond Nazareth, Managing Director of Agave Industries, explain the intricacies of the sweet flowers.

After a long wait, DesmondJi’s craft-distilled Mahua spirit has arrived in Karnataka, to satiate the palates of connoisseurs of heritage spirits and to tickle the curiosity of the bartenders’ community across the state.

Windmills Craftworks in Bengaluru hosted a 9-day ‘Mahua Festival’ on its premises in early May, working with the non-cold filtered desi spirit. The aim was to experiment with the seemingly endless possibilities to bring out the best of the spirit with the fragrance of the flowers.

The tree (Madhuca longifolia) and its flowers are indigenous, growing mainly in tropical deciduous forests. It has left a deeply-rooted cultural footprint in a swathe that includes the states of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana. It is also found in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

It took Mr. Desmond Nazareth, the Managing Director of Goa-based Agave Industries and producer of Mahua, more than a year to fine-tune methods to bring the traditional tribal alcoholic beverage to international standards of sourcing and storage, fermentation and triple distillation, bottling and marketing.

He now looks forward to launching it globally, riding on his reputation for crafting world-class spirits derived from agave, orange and cane. “It is the only distilled spirit derived from a flower; it is in a category all its own!” Desmond gushes.

What’s unique?

Distilled Mahua has a distinct flavor and a unique fragrance. It is very low on ethanol content, and gives a clean, happy high – and Desmond swears by it! “It is an exciting base to work on. For bartenders it offers a blank slate on which to experiment,” he notes.

Even the Mahua Liqueur, which has honey and spice infusions, offers itself to shots and a variety of cocktails.

Mahua has been known for hundreds of years, consumed by forest-dwellers, and is a deeply-rooted heritage beverage – “but treated with disrespect”, notes Desmond. He treats it like a national treasure and wants to bring it to the notice of connoisseurs around the world as a unique beverage coming out of India.

In that sense, Mahua is truly a forest-to-bottle project that has bloomed, and is sure to cast its fragrance in the international markets in the months to come.