Mead in heaven: This new beverage is on the brink of breaking into Indian market
After craft beer, Indian millennials have something new for their palates: mead, an alcoholic beverage that is created by fermenting honey with water and sometimes infused with fruits, spices, flowers or tea to achieve a particular flavour.
By Ananaya Banerjee
After craft beer, Indian millennials have something new for their palates: mead, an alcoholic beverage that is created by fermenting honey with water and sometimes infused with fruits, spices, flowers or tea to achieve a particular flavour. Interestingly, this drink, which is on the brink of breaking into the Indian market, is already quite a hit in the US, as per a recent report by the American Mead Makers’ Association, which has hailed it as one of the fastest-growing alcoholic beverages in that country. If one taps into the numbers, the report holds out. In 2003, there were around 30 commercial meaderies in the US. Today, there are more than 350. Reports, in fact, estimate that a new meadery opens every three days in the US. If we talk about India, Maharashtra, in 2016, became the first state to formally recognise mead as a category under wine. And the credit for that goes to Pune-based friends and business partners Nitin Vishwas and Rohan Rehani, who the same year approached the Maharashtra State Excise department for a licence to start their venture Moonshine Meadery—India’s first meadery, which opened in 2016 in Pune. The meadery today produces 5,000 litres of mead per month, which is available as of now in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.
The two 33-year-old co-founders, both engineers by qualification, stumbled on the idea of opening a meadery in 2015 when Vishwas came across an ad on meads in an in-flight brochure on his way to Munich for a work assignment. At that time, he was employed with McKinsey & Company. After coming back from Munich, he discussed the idea with Rehani, who, at that time, was working in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The two decided to first try their hand at making mead themselves. “It started as a home-brewing project initially. We wanted to push the envelope in terms of what is doable in alcohol,” says Vishwas. “When we brewed and sampled our batch of mead, we had no idea what it was supposed to taste like.” But even though their brew didn’t have the desired taste, “it definitely had potential”, says Vishwas, who worked with McKinsey & Company till 2015 after which he joined Abbott India as associate director. He resigned from his position at Abbott this month and is now invested full-time in Moonshine Meadery.