India’s Finest Whisky, Crowned World’s Best, Takes On Global Whiskey Giants”

Pune Pulse

India's Finest Whisky, Crowned World's Best, Takes On Global Whiskey Giants"

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In a distillery near New Delhi, oak casks that once cradled bourbon and wine now store aging whisky, with workers producing nearly 10,000 bottles a day of the award-winning Indian single malt, Indri. Recently named the world’s best whisky, Indri is contributing to the transformation of India’s $33 billion spirits market, challenging established global brands.

The distillery, owned by Piccadily, stands amidst sugarcane and mustard fields, deviating from the traditional peat bogs. As India evolves into a whisky maker rather than just a consumer, its single malts, including Indri, Amrut, and Rampur from Radico Khaitan, are reshaping the nation’s spirits landscape.

Unlike many Asian countries where beer dominates alcohol sales, India stands out as a predominantly whisky-drinking nation. The confluence of global awards, rising affluence, and an adventurous spirit among drinkers during the COVID-19 lockdown has brought significant change to India’s whisky scene.

Aditya Prakash Rao, a long-time consumer of foreign brands, now finds pride in purchasing Indian malts, appreciating their perfect pairing with spicy Indian cuisine. Indri’s Diwali Collector’s Edition, priced at $421, claimed the “Best in Show” title at the Whiskies of the World Awards, surpassing Scottish and U.S. rivals.

Recognizing the trend of embracing Indian whiskies, global brands traditionally focused on Scotch are now eyeing India’s booming whisky market. Pernod recently unveiled its first made-in-India single malt, Longitude 77, priced at $48, with plans for global expansion.

Kartik Mohindra, Pernod India’s chief marketing officer, expressed optimism about the unprecedented growth in the category. Diageo, Pernod’s rival, launched its first Indian single malt, Godawan, last year, selling in five foreign markets, including the United States.

The data reflects a notable shift in preferences, as Amrut dethroned Pernod’s Glenlivet, previously India’s top-selling single malt. Indian single malts saw a remarkable 144% growth in 2021-22, outpacing Scotch, which grew by 32%, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Piccadily Distilleries, the maker of Indri, aims to expand production capacity by 66% to 20,000 liters a day by 2025, catering to an increasing demand that extends beyond the 18 foreign markets constituting 30% of its sales. Plans include doubling the number of casks to 100,000 at the sprawling distillery located 160 km north of New Delhi.

While local brands like Indri, Amrut, and Rampur are not budget-friendly, their appeal and quality compete with global counterparts. The future seems promising as industry leaders recognize the potential, with both Diageo and Pernod venturing into the creation of Indian single malts. Sanjeev Banga, president of international business at Radico, emphasizes that the category is undeniably “a category of the future.”