Godawan - The artisanal Indian single malt whisky taking the world by storm

With exceptionally fast growth in just two years of its launch, Godawan is already one of the most awarded Indian Single Malts in recent times
Godawan - The artisanal Indian single malt whisky taking the world by storm
Photo - Diageo

Godawan, the artisanal Single Malt from India, known as "The Spirit of the Desert", has made an undeniable impact on the global whisky scene in the short time it has been around. Collecting a record-breaking number of accolades and awards; drawing international attention from some of the world's most influential writers; piquing the interest of quality-seeking aficionados in the USA, Dubai, Malaysia, Australia, and soon UK; whilst standing out as a conscientious example of conservation and preservation - makes it a whisky to watch out for.

Crafted in Rajasthan and garnering unparalleled worldwide acclaim, Godawan has become the most awarded Single Malt in India, with its expressions, Godawan 01 and Godawan 02, earning 46 awards since inception in 2022. The whisky won Gold and Silver Medals at the 2024 Denver International Spirits Competition and 2 Silver Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Following this success, Godawan 100, a bespoke collector's edition, has also been recognized as the Single Malt Whisky of the Year at the 2024 London Spirits Competition, showcasing the brand's prowess not just in India but on the global stage.

Godawan launched in Jaipur, India, in 2022, followed swiftly with a premiere at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. The spirit proudly returned to the prestigious Festival de Cannes for the third consecutive year earlier this month, championing Indian rarity and excellence through two world-class experiences. Steadfast in its commitment to showcasing Indian craftsmanship on the global stage, Godawan collaborated with critically-acclaimed Chef Varun Totlani to curate an Exclusive Indian-Inspired Dinner in France. The company also announced a long-term project to preserve classic Indian films via digitization and color restoration. This project kicked off with the restoration of archived classic Indian film posters, which were showcased in a curated exhibition at the festival.

A traditional Whisky Flavor Map contains four quadrants of flavor profiles - Light, Rich, Delicate, and Smoky – and most Indian single malts are smoky and rich. Godawan is bringing to life Indian single malts that cater to every palate - Light and Floral, Fruity and Spicy, Rich and Rounded, Full bodied and Smoky. It achieves this by crafting a mother liquid that is flexible enough to manifest itself across each flavour quadrant.

The brand is inspired by, and dedicated wholeheartedly to, the Rajasthani ethos – of beauty in scarcity and sustainability. The heat of over 100°F, combined with six-row barley that requires less water, helps create a whisky with an incredible depth of flavor, and a rich and complex character. The aridity means the "Angel's share" is higher than average in Godawan – leaving behind a whisky with stunning taste profiles, which is then finished in special casks selectively treated with two unique Indian botanicals, Rasna and Jatamansi.

Rajasthan, a land of stark contrasts, is home to some of the harshest weather conditions. However, culturally, it also preserves and conserves with delicate care and passion everything that exists on its land – whether it is the fauna such as the Godawan, or Great Indian Bustard, from which the whisky takes its name, its flora such as barley, its innovation in the form of step wells, or its people – known across the world for their thriving, colorful and intricate arts and craft.

Vir Sanghvi, an eminent Indian journalist and whisky expert, says, "One of the many things that makes Godawan special is its provenance. It's a whisky that could only come from the terroir of Rajasthan - with its water and its microclimate. I have now attended Godawan tastings all over the world, from New York to Dubai, and what has struck me is that when people get past the first reaction ('such a great whisky! Who could believe it comes from India!'), they start commenting on the specifics: the artisanal nature of the liquid, the different notes in the two variants, and the sense of luxury it embodies."

Godawan was also celebrated for its unique flavor by award-winning drinks specialist Alice Lascelles in her feature in the Financial Times HTSI 'India's quest to be the next whisky superpower'. She highlighted the varied and distinct flavor profiles of Godawan's expressions, "Godawan 01 and 02 rest in casks seasoned with Rasna and Jatamansi, two botanicals traditionally used in ayurveda and perfumery, rich and velvety, with notes of black chocolate and cherry. Godawan 02 is also finished in cherry casks, which lend the whisky subtle notes of pot-pourri and a spicy, piquant finish."

Vikram Damodaran, chief innovation officer, Diageo India, speaks of the recent success of this pioneering Single Malt, "Godawan celebrates Rajasthan's creative ingenuity and craftsmanship. Our Single Malt, crafted in the harsh desert, is a natural miracle that captures the essence of this precious land. Over the past two years, global appreciation for Indian culture and artisanal creations has soared, showcased through our presence at Cannes for three consecutive years, along with our numerous international spirit awards. This response fuels our aspirations and hope for the future of this artisanal whisky."

Since its inception, Godawan has committed to conserving its namesake, the endangered Great Indian Bustard. With around 150 birds left in Rajasthan, Godawan collaborates with the NGO Gramodaya Samajik Sansthan (GSS), the Forest Department and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on conservation efforts like habitat development, water provision, and protection from predators and poachers.

Additionally, Godawan replenishes more water than it uses in India through reforestation, wetland restoration, desilting ponds, and rainwater harvesting, aligning with Diageo India's commitment towards Society 2030: Spirit of Progress Plan. For five years, even before its public launch, Godawan has partnered with GSS on water projects in Rajasthan.

Sweeping the global drinks scene with youthful energy, multi-award-winning taste and conservation at its heart, Godawan is a Single Malt you want to know more about.

Godawan, The Spirit of the Desert. A story waiting to be told.

The unique whisky-making process involves:

  • Slow-trickle distillation from locally sourced six-row barley

  • Uniquely matured at temperatures reaching 100°F

  • Finished in special casks selectively curated with Indian botanicals

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