India: Indian Single Malt Whiskies Challenge Global Scotch Dominance

Indian whiskey, traditionally seen as a rum-variant due to its use of molasses-fermented spirits, is undergoing a remarkable transformation on the global stage, poised to disrupt the dominance of renowned Scotch brands worldwide. In a historic development, Indian single malt whiskies have outperformed internationally acclaimed labels such as Glenlivet, Macallan, Lagavulin, and Talisker in terms of sales. The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) estimates that Indian single malts commanded a substantial 53% share of total sales in 2023.

According to CIABC, out of the overall sales of approximately 675,000 cases (nine liters each) of single malts in India last year, Indian-origin distillers accounted for a significant 345,000 cases. Meanwhile, Scottish and other international brands collectively sold the remaining 330,000 cases.

India, a nation with a strong preference for spirits over beer compared to its Asian counterparts, is rapidly emerging as a major player in the production of single malt whiskies, challenging the supremacy of global brands. The country is already the world's largest consumer of whisky based on raw consumption figures.

Parthasaradhi Reddy, Consumer Lead Analyst at GlobalData, highlights the recent success of Indian whiskey brands at international awards, where they have earned recognition for their taste, standing alongside Scotch, American, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, British, and Australian whiskies. Notably, in August 2023, Indri's USD 421 Diwali Collector's Edition triumphed over American and British counterparts, winning "Best in Show" at a blind tasting during the Whiskies of the World Awards in San Francisco.

Francis Gabriel Godad, Business Development Manager at GlobalData India, emphasizes that the growing momentum of the "made in India" movement has fueled pride among affluent Indians in consuming domestic whiskies over those aged in Scotland. Recognizing this trend, leading international brands are capitalizing on the "Indian single malt" wave. Pernod Ricard, for example, recently introduced its USD 48 Longitude 77, the brand's inaugural Indian-made whiskey, set to expand globally, starting with Dubai.

Reddy points out that as more consumers prioritize quality over quantity, there will be a surge in demand for premium Indian whiskies. This is substantiated by a GlobalData consumer survey, where 28% of respondents believe that high-quality products and ingredients represent good value for money.

Moreover, in addition to receiving global accolades, Indian whiskies are gaining traction through a substantial increase in social media conversations. From a few mentions in 2018, these products have become a near-mainstream topic, with thousands of mentions and hashtags contributing to their growing popularity.

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