The Spirit of Goa in a Bottle
Behind every purchase of a feni bottle in Goa is a story. A diasporic Goan takes back a bottle as a remembrance of home. If you're visiting Goa you probably want to take back the ‘spirit’ of Goa to your friends. And a local, if no occasion will find one to purchase a bottle of Goa's proud product. The story behind one brand of feni Goan Treasure is one that Mac Vaz shares with Business Goa.
Madame Rosa’s spirits have possessed the hearts of many who appreciate fine feni. One of their most attractive products Goan Treasure, conceptualized by Valentino Vaz and manufactured at the Madame Rosa distillery in Pilerne, was launched on the completion of thirty years of Madame Rosa’s flagship brand Big Boss and is now looking to reach the Goan diaspora who yearn for a taste of home. “Our trump card is the consumer confidence in our brand simply because we do not bottle if the fenny is not good”, says Director Mac Vaz, son of Valentino Vaz. “And more than that is Goan Treasure’s attractive packaging, which is why whenever we showcase Big Boss fenny at national and international fairs and exhibitions; we also highlight our Limited Edition Goan Treasure.”
Its appealing nature caught the eye of one particular gentleman. At a recently held ‘Made in India’ show organised by APEDA in South Africa, Goan Treasure received feedback that wrote ‘Brilliant! Congratulations! Goan Treasure does not look like its Made in India’. “I still don't know if I was happy for this compliment paid to Goan Treasure or sad for the perception some people have of brands ‘Made in India’” says Mac, still in speculation.
But Goan Treasure is not just appealing in its looks. What sells Goan Treasure as the most expensive feni till date is also its premium quality which is a three year old mature blend and subtle as compared to Big Boss’ one year old blend. Its overall packaging and pricing is a social motive more than anything else, Mac explains. “A lot of people have a negative perception of feni. So this is one way of trying to exercise and promote the local spirit”, which is why he looks at other stakeholders not as adversaries but as comrades who are conscientious in their production and business adding brand value to the brand equity, feni.
Adding to the motive is his keen observation that many socialites and diasporic Goans insist on enjoying their feni even with the best single malts, cognacs and liqueurs available at the bar. The distiller is encouraged by this kind of solidarity and asserts that we need to realise the value of our assets just as the rest of the country has woken up to the realisation that India’s exclusive Darjeeling tea, yoga and ayurveda have also taken on the world.Feni is already on its way, having been exported to countries like Canada, Australia, USA, Bahrain and UAE.
In fact, according to Pratap Talwar of Amber Exporters, the importing associate from Canada says that as much as they were interested in the Limited Edition Goan Treasure in its special decanters it was not possible because of their delicate form. So they instead requested and got bottled a special label and brand with the Goan Treasure blend in it. “For our next container which we will send to Australia we will develop a special export packaging of the product to satisfy the demand for feni by the Diaspora Goan Australians”, says Mac.
With regard to distribution of feni at home, the President of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association has worked to ensure protection of the industry from the inside by identifying those producing compromised products which Mac says is the outcome of a short fall of the cashew fruit and the coconut tree and the issue may be corrected only through effective agricultural schemes along with enforcement through legislation.
This sense of social responsibility is strongly influenced by Dr. Verghese Kurian the ‘Father of the White Revolution’. And just like him, Mac is inspired to bring justice to the cottage industry, small distillers and farmers. “It's a perfect example of brand building on the socialist platform and I would like feni to be looked up to as a spirit of Goa proudly made in India”. As for Goan Treasure, one can expect a new Goan Treasure decanter every year, which has so far enticed decanter collectors for years now. But more than that, the manufacturers are planning to launch another limited edition of Goan Treasure with a blend that's in the cask for more than ten years. Valentino Vaz is working on a package that is said to do justice to the blend.