Workers at a distillery outside New Delhi produce around 10,000 bottles of the highly acclaimed Indian single malt, Indri, every day from oak casks that once held wine and bourbon. Declared the best whisky in the world recently, Indri is upending major international brands and transforming India’s $33 billion alcohol business.
Rather than the customary peat bogs, Piccadily’s distillery is situated among mustard and sugarcane fields. India is becoming more of a producer of whiskey than a mere consumer, and its single malts—such as Radico Khaitan’s Indri, Amrut, and Rampur—are changing the country’s spirits market.
India stands out as a country that mostly drinks whisky, in contrast to many Asian nations where beer dominates the alcohol market. The whiskey scene in India has seen substantial transformation as a result of the convergence of international prizes, growing wealth, and an adventurous mood among drinkers during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Aditya Prakash Rao, who used to buy international brands, now proud to buy Indian malts since he knows they go well with spicy Indian food. At the Whiskies of the World Awards, Indri’s Diwali Collector’s Edition, which retails for $421, defeated competitors from the United States and Scotland to win “Best in Show.”
Global firms who have previously concentrated on Scotch are now eyeing India’s burgeoning whisky industry as they recognize the trend of embracing Indian whiskies. With intentions to expand globally, Pernod recently released Longitude 77, its first made-in-India single malt, priced at $48.
The chief marketing officer of Pernod India, Kartik Mohindra, expressed optimism regarding the category’s extraordinary growth. The competitor of Pernod, Diageo, introduced Godawan, the country’s first Indian single malt, last year and sold it in five overseas countries, including the US.
The data shows a significant change in consumer tastes, with Amrut overtaking Pernod’s Glenlivet, which was previously the best-selling single malt in India. IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows that in 2021–2022, Indian single malts expanded by an astounding 144%, surpassing the growth of Scotch, which was up 32%.
The company that makes Indri, Piccadily Distilleries, plans to increase production capacity by 66% to 20,000 liters per day by 2025 in order to meet the growing demand outside of the 18 international markets that account for 30% of its sales. There are plans to expand the acreage of the vast distillery 160 km north of New Delhi to 100,000 casks.
Local brands like Rampur, Amrut, and Indri are not inexpensive, but their quality and attractiveness are on par with those of international names. With Diageo and Pernod taking the initiative to create Indian single malts, it appears that the future holds great promise for those in the sector who understand its potential. The category is unquestionably “a category of the future,” according to Sanjeev Banga, head of international business at Radico.
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