Whisky business

#1 Nov 25th, 2017, 18:01
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India consumes 48% of the world’s whisky. It is the fastest-growing market and the largest producer of the spirit. But what exactly are we making and drinking?


A file photo of whisky barrels at the Kasauli brewery. Photo: Abel Robinson/Mint

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When the Kenyan chef-restaurateur Kiran Jethwa visited India earlier this year to shoot Spirited Traveller, a show aired on Fox Life that discovers a country through its favourite beverages, he made Fried Whisky Ice Cream—chocolate ice cream flavoured with whisky, oranges and pistachio, dipped in jalebi batter, deep-fried and served with sugar syrup—for the Delhi episode. “I was told that people in Delhi love whisky and fried food,” Jethwa said. “So here’s my tribute to that spirit.”

Whisky is decidedly the spirit of choice in India—we consume almost half the whisky produced worldwide. From the cheapest Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) variant—whisky makes for almost 90% of IMFL—to limited-edition single-malt Scotch, people are drinking more whisky today than ever, spending anywhere between Rs50 per 25ml peg for a McDowell’s at a Paharganj bar in Delhi to Rs1,500 for a small Johnnie Walker Blue Label at a five-star hotel. While gin is going through something of a resurgence, it is still whisky that racks up the numbers, with a more-than-healthy lead over every other alcoholic beverage.

“Though the entire alcobev (alcoholic beverage) industry has grown steadily over the last decade, whisky is the flag-bearer in India,” says Thrivikram G. Nikam, executive director at Bengaluru-based Amrut Distilleries Pvt. Ltd. Part of the growth is because whisky has gone through an image makeover. It is not considered an old man’s drink anymore. Just like James Bond single-handedly legitimized the vodka martini and Carrie Bradshaw made Cosmopolitan the drink of choice for young women, Don Draper has made the Old Fashioned sexy again in the 21st century.

“With social barriers to enjoying a drink being discarded, increasing economic prosperity and 19 million new consumers entering the legal drinking age each year (in India), the overall economic and demographic opportunity is extremely attractive,” says Amrit Thomas, chief marketing officer, Diageo India, which represents more than one-third of the whisky sold in India.

The growth is most evident at entry-level IMFL, a category that includes all alcoholic spirits made in India, except beer and wine. “The majority of consumers choose IMFL, rather than beer or wine,” says Nikam. “This is the segment that is largest in India.”

But there is one pertinent question: Is the concoction manufactured in India whisky at all?

Bottles being labelled at Amrut Distilleries’ Bengaluru plant. Courtesy Amrut

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Drinking doubles

The Indian spirits market was valued at Rs1.84 trillion in 2016, according to data from consumer research firm GlobalData. Whisky accounts for more than 60% of this figure. The country is not only the largest market for the spirit, it is also the largest global producer of whisky.

Consider these numbers: Whisky consumption in India has more than doubled, from 80.2 million nine-litre cases in 2007 to 193.1 million nine-litre cases in 2016, according to the 2017-2021 forecast by the International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR ), a leading source of data and analysis on the alcohol beverage market. In the same 10-year period, global whisky consumption rose from 242.8 million to 399.2 million nine-litre cases. Of the whisky consumed in India last year, 189.7 million nine-litre cases, or 98.24%, was Indian-made.


Mint
#2 Nov 25th, 2017, 19:21
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It's a fine business to be in, I say...pass some molasses please. Hic
#3 Nov 25th, 2017, 19:51
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India consumes 48% of the world’s whisky
Wow !!! That’s incredible.

I always thought Indian people – in general – cannot hold alcohol? They become belligerent and pugnacious . I’ve noticed this in Hyderabad bars. Is it same elsewhere too?

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#4 Nov 25th, 2017, 21:22
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Originally Posted by RWeHavingFunYet View Post I always thought Indian people – in general – cannot hold alcohol?
That's true of injuns in both hemispheres.
#5 Nov 26th, 2017, 04:42
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Except the "real" Goans not that there are many left with the influx forens from Maharashtra, etc.
#6 Nov 26th, 2017, 13:47
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Originally Posted by edwardseco View Post Except the "real" Goans not that there are many left with the influx forens from Maharashtra, etc.
John Foster Dulles knew that too:

http://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/cgi...S19551206.2.26
#7 Dec 8th, 2017, 19:16
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Amrut is one fine, expensive libation to get hooked on
#8 Jan 3rd, 2018, 14:23
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I know now that whisky is #1 alcoholic drink in India. But what is local native alcoholic drink popular in India ? In Japan, native popular will be Sake. In Korea is Soju.
#9 Jan 3rd, 2018, 14:29
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In Kerala it is toddy. Other parts of India would be country liquor.
#10 Jan 3rd, 2018, 16:13
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Originally Posted by aarosh View Post In Kerala it is toddy. Other parts of India would be country liquor.
Goa it would be feni, Santhal/Bengal Mahuaa, Handi, a fremented rice beer, a byproduct of panta-bhaat, in Orissa, Apo in Assam, and Chaang in hill country of HP.
#11 Jan 3rd, 2018, 20:46
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Yu in Manipur
#12 Jan 4th, 2018, 04:32
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#12
Mahua in part of UP and Bihar and Daaru in Rajasthan.
#13 Jan 4th, 2018, 06:48
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#13
In Chhattisgarh, sulfi (palm tree extract) and landa (from rice)
Ladakh - Chhang
#14 Jan 4th, 2018, 14:59
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Originally Posted by Govindpuri View Post Daaru in Rajasthan.
Isn't daaru a generic name for any alcohol ? Just like sharab is in Hindi ?
#15 Jan 4th, 2018, 15:11
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I think so .... I've seen labels called 'santra' though, with a graphic of orange added, helpfully.

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