Exploring The Roots Of India's First Pure Cane Juice Rum

Camikara, India's first pure cane juice rum, is reviving the nation's rum legacy with premium offerings
Award winning Camikara rum
Award winning Camikara rum

India, renowned as the world's largest producer of sugarcane, boasts a rich history of cane juice distillates or rums. However, despite this heritage, the premium rum category remained elusive for India due to years of colonization, the dominance of Western whiskies, and the subsequent devaluation of rum as a quality brown spirit. In parallel to the evolution of tea and coffee preferences, India, once predominantly a coffee-producing and consuming nation, is now witnessing a resurgence of indigenous Indian coffee and rum on a global scale.

Camikara Rum
Camikara Rum

Delving into the historical roots, the oldest mention of alcohol production in India dates back to the Rigveda, where "Sura" – an ancient spirit elixir made with fermented grains and fruits – finds its traces in the Indus Valley Civilization around 2000 BCE. This tradition, lost over the years, is now experiencing a revival with the emergence of Camikara, India's first pure cane juice rum.

The Storied Past Of India's Rum

India boasts of a rich history with sugarcane and saw a transformation during British colonialism, with Bengal becoming a key supplier of rum to meet the UK's demand. Molasses a byproduct became the fuel for rum production. Bengal rum gained fame in Australia's penal colony, serving as both a vital commodity and a form of currency. Attempts to export it to the UK were thwarted by punitive duties, despite its quality being praised even surpassing French brandy. With the British Raj era fostering a preference for gin and whisky, rum remained popular in regions like Bengal and Kerala, and a starting point for young drinkers. The lack of a premium market made most consumers move to whisky. However, with the resurgence of interest in craft spirits, there's hope for India's rum tradition to experience a revival, showcasing the industry's adaptability over time.

A Toast to the Past

Camikara, inspired by the age-old practice of distilling cane juice to create the local brew Laahan in Punjab, aims to reclaim the legacy of regional spirits and traditions. Piccadily Distilleries, the brains behind Camikara, sought to take this ancient tradition further by incorporating advanced maturing techniques, presenting the world with premium Indian rums that pay homage to Punjab's local Lahaan roots.

The eloquently named Camikara, derived from the Sanskrit term for "liquid gold," distinguishes itself as India's first pure cane juice rum, a departure from the common practice of using molasses or by-products of sugarcane. The brand made a bold entry into the market in 2022 with the launch of Camikara 12 YO, a limited-edition sipping rum aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at 50 per cent ABV and free from added sugar, flavour, or colour, it made history by becoming the first Indian rum to secure a gold medal at the IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) Awards in 2023. In addition, only 6 per cent of the initial barrel amount remained after the angels claimed their share.

Exploring New Horizons

Building on the success of the 12YO variant, Camikara recently introduced the Camikara 3YO, a testament to the company's commitment to making premium Indian spirits more accessible. Aged in American oak barrels for three years and bottled at 42.8 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume), this expression challenges the notion of rum as a seasonal spirit. It invites both young enthusiasts and seasoned rum connoisseurs to explore its versatility, whether enjoyed on the rocks or as the base of a crafted cocktail.

Camikara 3YO boasts a classic, naturally sweet profile with top notes of sugarcane, intriguing hints of funkiness, and vegetal greenness. The palate offers a masterful blend of oak notes and cane juice spirit, resulting in a well-rounded and impeccably balanced experience, making it a rum like no other.

Meanwhile, in more recent news, during the 2024 Rum & Cachaça Masters competition, Camikara excelled in the Agricole-aged rum category, clinching two gold medals for its 12YO and 8YO variants and a silver medal for the 3YO. In this global contest featuring top-notch rum and cachaça brands, Camikara stands as the sole Indian brand to achieve such acclaim.

As spirits from Piccadilly Distilleries continue to make waves nationally and globally, Camikara emerges as a symbol of India's growing appreciation for high-quality craft liquor and a movement towards reviving traditional distillation techniques. In every sip of Camikara, one can taste not only the spirit of the land but also the rich history, culture, and people of India.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller