Brandy is not something that pops into most people’s mind when ordering for a drink. And there’s a good reason for that. India doesn’t manufacture any decent brandy. Even though our whiskies, wines, and beers have made a mark globally, none of the Indian spirit manufacturers have attempted distil high quality brandy. We have been forced to chose between imported and often expensive Cognacs from brands like Remy Martin and Martell or to settle on the distinctively harsh, low-end indigenous products.
Sula, the biggest name when it comes to Indian whiskies, is attempting to change this with its new product called Janus. Janus derives its branding from the namesake Roman God of beginnings and endings. Sula is interpreting the two faces of Janus, which are typically considered to be looking towards the past and the future, as a symbol of the fusion between East and the West. Janus began as a partnership between Sula and Remy Cointreau, but the French spirit maker quit the Indian market last year and sold its Indian subsidiary to Sula.
Janus is pitched as the first 100% grape brandy manufactured in India. The product was developed in India under the watchful eyes of Brandy master blender Yonael Bernard. Janus is prepared from four indigenous varieties of grapes, including Thompson and Bangalore Blues. The brandy is matured in Cognac Barrels, and has almost no artificial colouring (minimal quantities of colour is added to maintain consistency).
Janus was initially launched in Goa, but is now being rolled out across the country. It was officially launched in Hyderabad a few days ago, and is currently available in stores and pubs across the city. While Janus has the fruity, sweet taste of a brandy, the taste and colour bear more than a passing resemblance to whisky. This is quite intentional, since whisky is probably the most popular drink among the crowd that Janus is targeting. In fact, in a blind tasting with whiskies of comparable prices, Janus managed to fool me as it doesn’t have have the strong burning sensation that I’m used to in Indian brandy. Janus can be consumed on the rocks, as well as as a cocktail. It mixes quite well with ginger ale, but on the rocks is definitely the best option.
A bottle of Janus (750 ml) is priced at Rs. 2265, while a quarter (180 ml) will cost you Rs. 680.