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Coming of Age: Indian whiskey’s moment under the spotlight

Coming of Age: Indian whiskey’s- India has supplanted France as the nation that consumes the most Scotch whisky globally in terms of volume, and it ranks fifth globally in terms of value purchases of the whisky, according to the UK-based Scotch whisky Association (SWA). Further highlighting the fact that Scotch whisky exports to India have increased by more than 200 percent in the last ten years alone is SWA, which releases a yearly list of the nations that drink the most Scotch, both in terms of volume and value. The ancient Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha” or “usquebaugh,” which means “water of life,” is where the word “whisky” originates. It is created by fermenting a grain mash, sometimes with a little maltings added. Barley, corn, rye and wheat are among the grains; each adds unique qualities to the finished product.

Ageing the whisky in wooden casks—which are often made of charred white oak—further refines the drink and increases the richness of its flavours and fragrances. Whisky is divided into blended and single malt types, each of which has a range of subtle sub-varieties. Raymond Chandler, a novelist and screenwriter, once remarked, “There is no bad whisky.” Only a small percentage of whiskies are inferior than others. Master blender and distiller Surrinder Kumar of Piccadily Distilleries, the company behind the #1-ranked Indri whisky in the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023, concurs. Kumar, who was employed by Amrut Distilleries till 2019, believes that every whisky brand—whether domestic or foreign—brings something special to the table. In particular, he thinks that companies like Indri, Paul John, Amrut, and GianChand are supporting the expansion of Indian whiskies and elevating India to a global leadership position.

Coming of Age: Indian whiskey’s

Nearly two thirds of spirits sales in India, according to the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) organisation, are made up of whisky. Kumar claims that because of its cutting-edge products, the Indian whisky market is growing rapidly. According to him, sales of Indian single malts reached just over 2 million cases of nine litres in 2022, demonstrating their outstanding performance. “I predict that in the coming years, this growth rate will soar even higher, approaching nearly 30 percent annually.”

Indri, Paul John, Rampur, GianChand, and Amrut are among the premium whisky brands available in India; non-premium brands include Blenders Pride and Royal Stag, among others. Some of these businesses have been around for several decades, but others were just started a few short years ago. For instance, KN Sharma founded a spirits firm and a stand-alone bar in Chandigarh in 1953, which led to the establishment of Piccadily Distilleries, a company located in Haryana. In 1994, the Sharma family bought a sugar mill and distillery and entered the alcohol manufacture and distillery industry after experimenting with other enterprises including restaurants and theatres.

Coming of Age Indian whiskey's

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Coming of Age: Indian whiskey’s moment under the spotlight

Paul P. John, the chairman of Goa-based John Distilleries, founded the firm in 1996 after launching his own alcoholic beverage in 1992. “I became interested in the beverage industry at an early age since my father worked in the retail sector. As I went and saw distilleries over the years, particularly in Scotland, it dawned to me that India ought to be able to make whisky of the highest calibre as well,” adds John. He established the Goa malt factory in 2008, which paved the way for the 2012 UK debut of Paul John Indian Single Malts. “Ever since, the journey has been amazing.” With annual sales reaching 11 million cases, the company’s main brand, Original Choice, is among the top 10 whiskies sold globally and among the top selling brands in India.

Among the several honours that John Distilleries has received are three consecutive wins for “Asian Distillery of the Year.” According to John, it is one of the biggest spirits firms in the nation by volume and is present in 44 countries and 18 states in India.

Established in 1948 by Radhakrishna N Jagdale in Bengaluru, Amrut Distilleries is another prominent brand in the industry, having existed longer than Piccadily and John. The company’s chairman, Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, joined his father’s company in 1972, and together they were innovators in the high-end Indian whisky market. Malt whisky production at the distillery began in the late 1970s. India’s first single malt whisky, Amrut, was introduced on August 24, 2004, at Glasgow’s Cafe India, an Indian eatery. “My father came up with the idea to market the single malt whisky,” says Amrut Distilleries executive director and third-generation entrepreneur Rakshit N Jagdale. India and the rest of the world were later exposed to the whisky.

Restaurants and bars all over the world did not consider India-made whiskies to be very significant in the 1990s, according to Jagdale’s brother-in-law and executive director of Amrut Distilleries, Thrivikram G. Nigam. “At that point, Amrut Distilleries made the decision to introduce its premium Indian whisky and established itself in the premium market on a global scale.” According to Jagdale, Amrut currently sells over 120,000 cases of its single malt whisky—which comes in close to 40 expressions—in more than 22 states in India and 57 other countries.

The appeal of our whisky lies in how boldly we produce and market it globally, without drawing comparisons to other nations. The product is entirely Indian, with subtle Indian influences, and it was aged, bottled, and distilled in Bengaluru, according to Jagdale. In addition, Nigam says, “We don’t take much time to bring those learnings to our offerings because we keep learning about whiskies across the world.”

John views rivalry in a different way. We are all dedicated to developing the Indian single malt category for both India and the rest of the globe, thus in my opinion, we are not in a competitive condition. Indian single malt players don’t compete with one another since we have purposefully crafted our own storylines based on our extensive Indian ancestry.

While Amrut sells its own whiskies in India, it has hired distributors for distribution across the world. John Distilleries and Sazerac, an American beverage firm that sells its goods in the US, UK, and Australia, have formed a strategic alliance. We have synchronised our distribution with global Sazerac distributors. Leveraging the portfolio’s joint strength was beneficial to us, according to John.

Amrut has joined the markets in South America and Africa as part of its aspirations to expand into other regions. “Our goal is to expand our presence in India, followed by global expansion,” said Nigam. It also intends to add thirty percent more capacity. “I have high hopes for Amrut and India’s future in the whisky industry. India will undoubtedly become a formidable rival in the global market, manufacturing high-quality liquids, according to Jagdale.

According to John, the Indian single malt tale, which began with a single Indian brand, is currently developing into a category that is setting the standard for the country. In an effort to achieve results more quickly, John Distilleries has started indexing international whisky markets, such as those in the US, UK, and Europe. They have also begun to evaluate the world-class quality of their whisky. Sometimes people give us a strange look or express incredulity that we Indians are capable of producing whisky. Along with other countries like Australia, France, Italy, and the US, single malts from India are now the developing category. I am quite optimistic that the Indian single malt market will soar to tremendous heights.

Which is the oldest whiskey in India?

Amrut Distilleries, the Indian whisky producer, has earned the distinction of being the oldest Indian whisky ever produced. The name “Amrut” stems from the term “angels’ share,” which refers to the portion of whisky that evaporates during maturation. This whisky is matured in oak barrels at high altitudes, resulting in a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other whiskies. Amrut Distilleries has received numerous awards for its exceptional quality and craftsmanship, making it a favorite among whisky connoisseurs worldwide.

Which is the new whiskey in India 2023?

India’s Indri Diwali Collector’s Edition 2023 has been awarded the title of the best whisky in the world at the Whiskies of the World Awards. This achievement has put India on the map in terms of producing high-quality whiskies. Interestingly, due to the country’s warm climate, a three-year-old Indian whisky can have a maturation effect comparable to that of a Scotch whisky that has been matured for 9-15 years. This unique factor contributes to the distinct flavor profile and complexity of Indian whiskies, making them stand out in the global market.

Which is the strongest whisky in India?

One of the unique features of this whisky is its high alcohol content of 50% ABV, making it one of the strongest whiskies available. The use of barley from Scotland, the birthplace of whisky, and distillation in India gives it a distinctive blend that captures both local and international flavors. This Indian whisky is truly one-of-a-kind and offers a drinking experience like no other. Its strong taste and unique blend make it a popular choice among whisky enthusiasts around the world.

Conclusion

Indian whiskey is experiencing a coming of age, with a surge in popularity and recognition on the international stage. Historically, Scotch whiskey has dominated the global market, but Indian distilleries are now gaining recognition for their unique and flavorful spirits. The warm climate in India allows for faster maturation, resulting in whiskies that are rich and full-bodied. Distilleries like Amrut and Paul John have been leading the charge, winning awards and accolades for their exceptional craftsmanship. With a wide range of styles and flavors to choose from, Indian whiskey offers a truly diverse and exciting drinking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey connoisseur or new to the world of spirits, exploring the world of Indian whiskey is sure to be a delightful journey of discovery.

Coming of Age: Indian whiskey’s FAQ’S

What is the future of whiskey in India?

In 2023, India remains a lucrative market for whisky sales. According to Statista, the Indian whisky market is projected to hit almost $18.4 billion (£14.8 billion) in value in 2023, bested in size only by the United States.

Which is the new whiskey in India 2023?

Recently, India's Indri Diwali Collector's Edition 2023 was awarded as the best whisky in the world at the Whiskies of the World Awards. A three-year-old whisky in India attains a maturation effect similar to a Scotch whisky that is 9–15 years old.

What is the lifespan of whisky?

Whiskey is meant to be enjoyed over time, but once you open a bottle, the clock starts ticking. Most scientists believe that if your bottle is at least half full, it can last one to two years, but if it's almost empty, with a quarter or less whiskey left, it'll expire in about six months.

Which whiskey is best made in India?

Indri Diwali Collector's Edition 2023, a whisky made in India, has been named the best whisky brand in the world by Whiskies of the World. The Indian peated class whisky beat over 100 international brands in a blind tasting competition.

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