Smoke Lab Vodka, India’s first homegrown premium craft vodka that is made using Basmati rice, makes its way to Singapore.
While India is a huge producer – and consumer – of distilled spirits, much of that production is devoted to low-quality spirits, particularly “country liquor”. But things have been changing for distilling on the Indian subcontinent in the past decade, with a surge in the number of distilling outfits opening up dedicated to producing top-quality drops. Here in Singapore, for example we’ve the likes of premium whisky from Goa’s Paul John, and artisanal gin from Stranger & Sons (also from Goa) enter our market in recent years.
The latest to enter the Singapore market? Craft vodka from Smoke Lab Vodka. Smoke Lab Vodka is India’s first homegrown premium small-batch vodka, although ironically by one of India’s largest distillers. The product is the brainchild of Varun Jain, the CEO of NV Group, which is behind brands such as Royal Envy Whisky, Blue Moon Indian Dry Gin, and Moja Rum, most of which are largely dedicated for the domestic India market.
But Smoke Lab is positioned rather differently. It is produced in small batches, one batch at a time, at a state-of-the-art distillery in Punjab. What’s particularly interesting is that the vodka is produced from rice, but not just not any rice. Vodka made from rice is nothing new; there’s the likes of Suntory’s Haku Vodka, for example. But Smoke Lab is made using locally-sourced, superior-quality Basmati rice, a rice variety that’s intrinsically and intricately linked to India. Basmati in Hindi literally means “fragrant”, and Smoke Lab claims the rice lends “a distinctive crisp, pure flavour and unique floral aromas” to the vodka. Water used in the production process is pure Himalayan spring water (which Smoke Lab packages and sells as premium spring water in India).
To make Smoke Lab, fresh Basmati rice is first steeped in pure Himalayan natural spring water for a period of time before it is sent off to undergo a traditional five-step distillation process. The distillate is then finished in an special two-step “Sparkle Filtration” process which filters out any unwanted particles to create a soft, clean, and smooth finish
The current range for Smoke Lab comprises of two expressions – there’s the Smoke Lab Vodka Classic (40% ABV), as well as the Smoke Lab Vodka Aniseed (37.5% ABV). The latter offers a floral yet earthy liquorice flavour that reminds one of the candied fennel seeds served at the end of an Indian meal as a breath freshener.
Smoke Lab Vodka is distributed by The Old Man Singapore and can currently be found at the following bars and restaurants island-wide in Singapore: