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Moonshine Meadery: Creating a Buzz

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Meet Pune-based Moonshine (not only India’s but also Asia’s first meadery), which is experimenting with ingredients to bring the most unique variants of mead to an ever-increasing clientele

Story of growth 

Rohan Rehani and Nitin Vishwas are the co-founders of Moonshine Meadery. It was around 2014 that the duo realised there was an audience looking for a more flavourful choice of beverage. So, they did some research and found that mead fits into the white space that exists between flavourful, non-alcoholic beverages such as Coke and alcoholic bitter beverages such as commercial beer. “This was when we started contemplating if we could start a meadery. At that time, the Indian market did not have an alcoholic beverage that was focused on flavour,” shares Rehani. Unfortunately, there was also no excise policy around mead then. “It took us nearly two years to get a change in the state government’s excise policy, and a few months after that, we got the license to start India’s first meadery,” reveals Rehani. Moonshine Meadery was commercially launched in 2018.

Innovation at the core 

The category that Moonshine is disrupting is commercial beer. For decades, consumers have had to choose between one bitter beverage and another, with no option for a flavourful beverage. Mead, though, is flavourful right out of the bottle, and to showcase this, Moonshine offers a diverse range of meads—fruit forward, mildly sweetened with honey and carbonated. “Moonshine is all about innovation. When we discovered that mead is an extremely versatile beverage, we started using ingredients such as apples, coffee and grilled pineapples to add extra flavour to the drink,” shares Vishwas. The brand’s flagships meads are traditional mead, apple mead and coffee mead, which are available throughout the year. 

Also on offer are limited-edition seasonal meads such as guava chilli mead, grilled pineapple mead and salted kokum mead, made in small batches using single-variety honey sourced from Moonshine’s own bee boxes, as part of its MeadLAB series. “The idea behind creating MeadLABS was to drive home the point that we offer craft beverages made from real ingredients. We are giving consumers a choice to drink better, not bitter. Our most recent MeadLab is the hopped mead, made with multi-floral honey and a mix of Amarillo, Mandarina, magnum and Citra hops [hops are bittering, flavouring, and stability agents]. This mead is fruity and citrusy with a slightly bitter finish,” adds Vishwas. Since Moonshine only uses all-natural ingredients in its meads, its consumers can easily make out the difference between artificially flavoured meads and the brand’s meads. “This focus of crafting flavourful beverages using all-natural ingredients did not exist in the Indian alco-bev space before this. Our clientele thus majorly comprises consumers who were earlier drinking commercial beers but are now choosing our meads because they find them more flavourful,” explains Vishwas. 

Moonshine’s meads are not only flavourful but also contain low alcohol with only 6.5% abv (alcohol by volume), are mildly carbonated and packed in a 330 ml glass bottle much akin to a beer—unlike meads around the world. “This has worked well for us since doing this has made an old beverage like mead, young again. Another USP our meads have is that they are naturally gluten-free, so they will not give you a bloated stomach after consumption,” shares Vishwas.

Being customer ready 

Over the years, as Moonshine has grown, customer feedback has become very important to it. “For the most part, sales in the alco-bev sector happen through distribution channels. But we participate in events or host tours of our meadery to meet and speak to customers. We also occasionally invite them to participate in round table discussions with us,” says Rehani.

Launching new products is part of Moonshine’s DNA. “We release new flavours every few months as a part of our MeadLab series. Last year saw the release of our Grilled Pineapple Mead and the Salted Kokum Mead. This year, you will have to wait—there are quite a few new meads in the pipeline,” says Vishwas. 

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