Moonshine Meadery – Bringing Back the Elixir of the Gods

Mr Nitin Vishwas | Co-founder | Moonshine Meads
Mr Nitin Vishwas | Co-founder | Moonshine Meads

This is the story of Mead. I know you might not have heard about it if you are a teetotaller. But ancient cultures of China, India, Greece, and Egypt referred to it as the world’s oldest alcoholic drink.

Mead as a drink is fermented honey mixed with water. And its history is long and glorious. Some of the oldest records suggest that mead (aka Somras), a fermented honey beverage, was a favoured drink of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) around four millennia ago.

And the ancient Greeks used to call it ambrosia or nectar. They also believed that mead was the elixir of the Gods, which descended as dew from the heavens before bees gathered it in the form of honey. And heavens continuously poured water on us from the clouds. Thus, the mix was believed to have magical properties too.

You can all call the last statement hearsay, but Benevolent Overlords Rohan Rehani and Nitin Vishwas rediscovered mead in a garage in 2014 and remade it into Moonshine Meadery by 2018. Rohan and Nitin have been friends for thirty-five odd years.

Nitin is an alumnus of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, and has worked with McKinsey and Abbott Pharma. And by profession, Rohan is a mechanical engineer and has worked in core manufacturing for most of his career.

Their experience combined with the new-age approach to business that thinks about the shareholders and the stakeholders and the organization’s place in society has been instrumental in shaping the work culture that a start-up requires to grow sustainably.

In an interview with Insights Success for its edition of ‘India’s Fastest Growing Start-ups to Watch’, Mr Nitin Vishwas, Co-founder, was talking about Moonshine’s mission is to bring back this drink which was previously reserved for the kings and the royalty, to this and future-century lovers of all things craft.

Moonshine Meadery is taking your palate on a soothing journey while you sit back, relax, lower your inhibitions, and indulge in the excerpts of this inducing interview.

Please brief our audience about Moonshine Meadery, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in the industry it is catering to?

Moonshine Meadery is India’s and Asia’s first meadery, started by Rohan Rehani and Nitin Vishwas. We make mead, an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey with fruits and spices.

Over the last four years, we have created a new category that caters to an audience interested in knowing where their food and beverages come from. We can play in the white space between flavourful, non-alcoholic drinks like Coke and alcoholic, bitter beverages like commercial beer.

Mead is highly versatile as a beverage, and we make it using ingredients like apples, coffee, or grilled pineapples. It is also mildly carbonated to give consumers a very flavour-packed, seasonable beverage made with all-natural ingredients. This focus on crafting flavourful drinks using all-natural ingredients did not exist in the Indian alco-bev space before this.

What other products/solutions does Moonshine Meadery offer, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your clients?

At Moonshine, we are constantly experimenting with various ingredients on offer due to India’s tropical climate. This variety is not limited to fruits & spices alone but extends to honey.

Using very seasonal ingredients, we make limited edition batches called mead Labs. Some of which are – Guava Chilli, Grilled Pineapple, Salted Kokum, and Project X made using single-variety honey sourced from our bee boxes.

As honey is the main raw ingredient used to make mead, we can consume high volumes. This has started to give impetus to small to medium-scale beekeeping businesses. Other than this, we also have our bee boxes under the Moonshine Honey Project, which aims to revive dwindling bee populations while sourcing the purest single-origin honey.

The positive environmental implications of using honey instead of grains or grapes to make alcohol are huge, as honey is a bonus/by-product that nature provides us. We can support farmers by providing them with a supplemental income and becoming a +1 to the value stream of the food ecosystem.

Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact the adoption of modern technologies such as AI, big data, and machine learning had on the industry you are catering to and what more could be expected in the future?

Thus far, AI and Big Data have had little to no impact on the alco-bev space, but with better regulations coming into place slowly, one day, we will directly be in touch with our customers, and that’s when we’ll see these technologies come into play.

Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive Moonshine to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time.

The pandemic severely affected us as our sector did not benefit from e-commerce sales. However, our home state of Maharashtra has been very progressive by implementing home delivery models and giving a new lease of life to the alco-bev sector. We are hoping these progressive policies are adopted by other states as well.

We did de-risk our business by expanding geographically. We realised that having clustered markets like Maharashtra and Goa meant that we would shut down and start up on similar timelines if there were to be a lockdown. By being available in more states with the added benefit of no signs of another nationwide lockdown, we feel safeguarded ourselves.

How do you envision scaling Moonshine’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?

We have recently launched our operations in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Daman, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh as the last territories in this expansion phase. Hence, our focus will be on consolidating these markets with special attention to increasing our distribution. Furthermore, we have always envisioned Moonshine as a national and global brand, so our efforts to make that happen will always continue.

We have been working on high alcohol meads (12% Abv) made using speciality honey for two years. They will be launched by the end of this year.

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