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Updated December 17th, 2023 at 19:19 IST

Which Indian whisky has been named as the world's best?

As India emerges as a producer, not just a consumer of whisky, its single malts are transforming the country's $33 billion spirits market.

Manasvi Asthana
Indri whiskey rated as world's best.
Indri maker Piccadily Distilleries hopes to expand capacity by 66 per cent by 2025. | Image:Unsplash
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In a distillery near New Delhi, oak casks, previously employed for bourbon and wine storage, are accumulating, housing maturing whisky as the facility produces nearly 10,000 bottles daily of Indian single malt Indri, a whisky recently crowned the world's best.

Surrounded by sugarcane and mustard fields instead of peat bogs, the distillery owned by Piccadily, the two-year-old Indian brand, is increasing production. They are also constructing a three-hole golf course to attract both connoisseurs and whisky enthusiasts in the nation that loves its whisky.

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As India establishes itself as a producer not just a consumer of whisky, its single malts are transforming the country's $33 billion spirits market.

Well-known global brands like Glenlivet from France's Pernod Ricard and Talisker from Britain's Diageo vie for shelf space alongside local competitors such as Indri, Amrut, and Radico Khaitan's Rampur.

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In contrast to many Asian countries where beer dominates alcohol sales, India is primarily a whisky-drinking nation.

Industry executives and analysts note that global awards, rising affluence and a multitude of drinkers exploring new brands during COVID-19 lockdowns have significantly influenced India's whisky landscape.

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Many Indians who earlier used to drink foreign brands have now shifted to buying Indian malts for themselves and even for gifting purpose during festive seasons.

Indri's Diwali Collector's Edition, priced at $421 (Rs 34,960), clinched the "Best in Show" title at the Whiskies of the World Awards blind tasting in San Francisco in August. It surpassed competitors from Scotland and the United States.

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In response to the growing trend of Indian whisky consumption, global brands that traditionally focused on single malts aged in Scotland are now turning to Indian whiskies to capitalize on the boom in one of the world's largest whisky markets.

On Wednesday, Pernod, featuring Bollywood stars and Indian music, introduced its inaugural Indian-made single malt, the $48 Longitude 77 with intentions to extend sales to Dubai and subsequently to the global market, as per reports.

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In the 2021-22 period, Indian single malts experienced a remarkable 144 percent surge, surpassing the 32 percent growth observed in Scotch, as per data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

The forecast for the period until 2027 indicates that the consumption of Indian malts is anticipated to grow at a rate of 13 percent per year, outpacing Scotch which is projected to grow at 8 percent annually.

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Piccadily Distilleries, the creator of Indri, aspires to increase its capacity by 66 percent to 20,000 liters (5,300 gallons) per day by 2025. This expansion is aimed at reaching beyond the 18 foreign markets that currently contribute to 30 percent of its sales, according to founder Siddhartha Sharma.

 

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Published December 17th, 2023 at 19:16 IST

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