A banker at Standard Chartered for 16 years, Kasturi Banerjee has always had a head for numbers. And that certainly came to use when she quit her job in 2018 to begin measuring pegs and calculating cocktail portions. “I was always interested in bartending as a hobby and in 2018, I came to a ‘if not now, when?’ point,” explains Banerjee. The skilled banker switched gears and dove headlong into the world of blending and muddling. The combined effort of her studies, research, training and travels across the country over the past few years has finally born fruit in the form of Makazai, India’s newest premium rum brand, from the house of Stilldistilling Spirits.
Makazai Rum from Goa
“Maka zai translates to ‘I want’ from Konkani. The rum is a fully made-in-India product and we wanted that aspect to stand out in our offering. We’ve all grown up on Old Monk, but beyond that, what else does India have to show for rum? Right from the packaging and design to the ingredients, everything is straight out of India,” explains Banerjee.
Makazai gets its molasses from west India, the bottles are manufactured in Firozabad, while the caps come from Meerut. The turtle mascot on the packaging too is a hat tip to the locals—Olive Ridley turtles that come to Goa’s shores to hatch their eggs. “They’re one of the oldest inhabitants of the state and have such a focused and unique birthing process. The Olive Ridley turtle embodies everything that Makazai stands for–focus, resilience, dedication and determination,” she says.
What does Makazai taste like?
Makazai is available in two variants: Bartender’s Edition is the white rum offering and the Tribute Edition is the gold rum option. The former is “dedicated to bartenders around the world, who are often less celebrated as compared to chefs, but play an important role in you having a good time when you’re out on the town,” explains Banerjee. Both bottles are designed with a bartender’s needs in mind. The neck of the bottle rests comfortably between two fingers while the base sits firmly on your palm. This version is light and floral, with herbaceous hints of sugarcane. It’s a smooth, medium-bodied spirit, that is extremely sippable, even just on the rocks. Banerjee recommends enjoying it in a cocktail like a daiquiri or pairing it with ginger ale, pomegranate juice or kombucha.
The Tribute Edition is the more premium version. It is elegant, with a creamy mouthfeel and notes of praline, fig and honey. Tribute is a blend of molasses spirit and an oak barrel-aged rum. The spirit is best enjoyed in a Mai Tai, per Banerjee. “Abhirup Bhattacharyya, Makazai’s brand ambassador has been hard at work training Goa’s bartenders to use our spirits creatively. So the next time you’re in a bar in Goa, be sure to sample Makazai!”
Makazai is available in Goa only. Rs1,000 for The Bartender’s Edition and Rs1,300 for the Tribute Edition.