having acquired Chitali Distillery Ltd. at a cost of
Rs.28.75 crores, John Distilleries is looking at newer
ways to take the business forward. P.M. Salaskar,
Director of John Distilleries Ltd., and Vice Chairman &
Managing Director of Chitali Distillery Ltd. in an
interview with Vincent Fernandes presents the way
forward after the deal.
Excerpts: The acquisition of
Chitali Distilleries was a red letter day for John
Distilleries Ltd., whose business has grown phenomenally
since its inception in 1992. The company now has sales
of 9.5 million cases with Original Choice, its flag ship
brand commanding 7.5 million cases. After buying spirit
from various distilleries the purchase of the distillery
with a capacity for nearly 3.6 million cases is a
logical next step for the company. The deal which is
part of the five year old disinvestment process, had
attracted the attention of several high profile
industrialists and business groups in the state. We are
happy to win the deal at the right price, says Salaskar.
This is part of our backward integration programme. We
will use the distillery for our captive consumption and
will offer our spare bottling capacity to some of our
new brands. The distillery is being revamped and
upgraded by Praj Industries.
This is the first major acquisition
for Bangalore-based Paul John Distillers outside its
southern markets, and it now has the option to produce
rectified spirit and ENA. The company has a blending and
bottling plant in Bangalore, Goa, and Chhatisgarh with a
capacity of 7.14 million cases per annum. These apart,
there are several associate plants including two plants
in Andhra Pradesh, one in Kerala, one in Pondicherry and
tie-up units in Haryana and other parts of the country.
Chitali has a capacity to produce 50.00 lakh litres of
alcohol a month. Besides this Chitali has license to
increase this capacity to 150 K.L.P.D. The unit is
located at Shrirampur, Ahmednagar, near Shirdi.
made its mark as a distributor of UB Spirits, Sultania
Trade Pvt. Ltd., is now seeking to make its mark in
imports, warehousing and logistics. Vikas Gupta,
Director, Sultania Trade Pvt. Ltd outlines their plans
to Vincent Fernandes.
Excerpts: After having been in
the business of distribution of IMFL products since
1991, the company moved on to importing of wines and
spirits and is now ready to expand into warehousing and
logistics. Having acquired new premises for its
expansion plans, the company hopes to move in to their
premises in the next eight months. We hope to take the
company to the next level, says O. P. Sultania, Managing
Director, Sultania Trade Private Ltd. The company has
grown steadily over the years attaining double digit
growth consistently. But this has not come without a
reason. Vikas Gupta, Director of the firm, attributes it
to hard work beginning from the managing director which
percolates down the line. This hard work has paid off
and has underlined our commitment to our customers, he
While the distribution of IMFL has
been streamlined, Vikas focuses on the International
business. We are always on the look out for unique
products; exceptionally good ones with exceptional
pricing keeping in mind the Indian palate, climate and
food habits. Products like Asti Spumante, a white
sparkling wine from Dezzani in Italy go well with spicy
Indian food. It's not so dry as a Brut Champagne, he
explains. For good wines at the entry level, with
excellent prices, we have wines from J.J. & Cie. The
cornerstone of our success has been our product
strategy, distribution skills, correct interpretation of
trends, indepth knowledge of markets, says Vikas. Some
of their star products include Cantina di Soave, Asti
Spumante, Sakes from Gekkeikan, Tequilas like Porfidion
from Destileria Porfidio and El Caballo Estrella Gold &
Silver. In the sparkling wines segment, the Grandials
demi sec and Asti Spumante are sure winners.
an importer of fine wines and spirits is a business
fraught with risk. Jackie Matai looks back in retrospect
at the last four years of their existence and cannot
help feeling satisfied. In an interview with Vincent
Fernandes, Jackie Matai and Arun Kumar reveal their
Excerpts: It was indeed a big
decision for Jackie Matai and Arun Kumar, both
experienced professionals and who have seen it all in
the distribution of wines and spirits, when they
established Aspri Spirits Pvt. Ltd. in 2004. The journey
has been pretty good, gushes, Jackie Matai. Today the
company is among the top three importers and has
established an amazing track record. However his biggest
challenge is regulations and duties. If only the
government would rationalise duties and procedures. This
is especially true in the case of wines which need to be
stored well, handled correctly and requires high
inventories. It is a tough call but that does not deter
for pursuing his ambitious growth plans.
Aspri Spirits which began with their
office in Mumbai and five employees has grown into a
major player in the business with its headquarter in
Mumbai and branches in Delhi and Bangalore. The
Bangalore presence was created in July 2005 and office
was established in 2007. The Delhi office was
established in 2007. We now have three hubs in North,
West and South, says Arun. We operate out of Delhi,
Bangalore and Mumbai and our new centre Chandigarh. The
company is also looking at new centres in Hyderabad,
Pune, Jaipur and Chennai. The Aspri group includes
Vinspri Distributors Pvt. Ltd, Dentos India Pvt. Ltd.
and Sunrise Petroleum Services. The cornerstone of their
success is Aspri's belief of building brands lies in
developing markets together with its principals through
team work, identifying new opportunities and insights
into changing market trends and preferences. The company
now has 74 employees and a foot print in 21 states and
in Bangladesh. Next year the figure could go to 100
as Scotch whisky's finest guru and writer, Charles
MacLean, speaks about whisky like an art connoisseur who
knows the landscape of the renaissance akin to the palms
of his hands. In India on a Diageo initiative to unveil
the mysteries of Scotch Malt whisky through the launch
of a book called "Water of Life", MacLean says the
market for India is only just opening and this could be
one of the world's biggest markets in years to come as
"the global demand for malt whisky has gone ballistic". Amitabh Joshi explores MacLean's genius and wisdom in
this exclusive conversation.
Excerpts: Malt whisky is a
recent rediscovery, says whisky guru Charles MacLean.
Until the 1980s almost all the malt whisky made went
into blends and only 1% or less was bottled as single
malt. In spite of the fact William Grant's Glenfiddich
had decided for the first time in any whisky company to
promote their whisky as single malt - they called it
pure malt or straight malt in the mid-1960s, the other
companies were very slow to follow the lead of
"So the awakening really began only
when famous brands like McCallan or Glen Morangie only
first came into the market in 1981. They were available
but only in very small quantities and not promoted.
McCallans promotional budget in 1978
when they appointed their first marketing director was
fifty pounds. It's currently about 5 million pounds per
annum", explains MacLean.
The growth is truly phenomenal. Malt
whisky has always been considered to be on the
connoisseurs end on the scale. It's not better than
blended whisky, it's different. "I've written dozens of
books about single malt and it tends to be my business.
Funnily enough, for pleasure in drink blended whisky.
People always ask me what my favourite blend is I tell
them it's Johnny walker black - which I know is the favourite whisky in India", remarks. According to him,
malt whisky is the most complex spirit known to man. It
offers huge rewards if it's attended to, by appreciating
it properly by smelling it as well as tasting it.
Blended whisky uses a whole number of malt whiskies,
like Johnnie Walker Black which uses 42 whiskies and two
grain whiskies, to create a unique blend. The way the
blender works is by integrating all his components in
such a way as to produce an overall pleasurable taste
and smell. "But you don't really smell blended whiskies.
In malt whisky the appreciation and fun, and because
they're all different, is in experiencing the
many new companies enter the complex business of
importing wine and spirits, one company stands tall as
it gives a much snubbed business a fair name. Mr. F. N.
Ginwalla, Managing Partner, Shroff & Company, and his
daughter Zenobia Ginwalla, show the way forward in an
interview with Vincent Fernandes.
Excerpts: In a land where
cricket is worshipped and a century is revered, Shroff &
Co. should have had accolades flowing in from all sides.
But in India, liquor is taboo, however Mr. Ginwalla is
proud Shroff & Co for over 100 years has not only been
able to sustain itself by sheer dint of hard work but it
has also maintained the fair and honest trade practices
the company has become known for.
Shroff and company, a partnership
firm was established on 27 October 1908. It was founded
by their patriarch, the Late Ruttonshaw Dhunjibhoy
Shroff. His legacy continued with his sons, the late
Darabshaw and Bomanshaw Shroff, and over the last four
decades, this family institution has been run by the
current Managing Partner, Mr. D R Shroff's son-inlaw,
Mr. Freddy N Ginwalla, his wife, the late Pervin F
Ginwalla, their four children, and Mr. Shroff's son, Mr.
Hoshang D Shroff.
For Mr. Ginwalla it has been a long
journey ever since he joined the business in 1968. The
company saw many dark days on account of prohibition but
the silver lining is the emergence of wine in a country
where the per capita consumption is around a teaspoon.
He is bullish about wine and is thankful to the support
given by the government. No product can grow without the
conviction and support of the government, he says.
Unfavourable government restrictions
hamper the growth of any product and in this case -
wine. Most of the farmers have switched to the more
profitable wine grapes which also require less water
than table grapes and that has helped them a great deal.
have imbibed, to a large extent, the drinking
preferences of the English. Hence Gin with Tonic remains
an afternoon drink and evenings are dedicated to Scotch,
especially during winter.
Excerpts: There is something
about nursing a whisky in winter, preferably with a log
fire nearby and good friends for company. Or even a good
book, chilly winds outside and the comfort of one's favourite chair is what good life is all about. At one
time, the often repeated joke was that in North India
more 'scotch' is consumed than is distilled in Scotland
thereby alluding to the spurious quality that often
passed as Scotch whisky for many Indians. But that was
many years ago, before relief arrived in the form of
increased Duty free allowance, more frequent travel for
Indians and of course the Indian whisky makers tying up
with various brands to have the IMFL on the shelves of
local sale outlets. An alcoholic beverage may range in
alcohol contents from a mere 5% to nearing 40%. It is
but natural then that different beverages should find
favour during different seasons of the year. More so in
north India where climatic temperatures may differ from
temperate to quite cold or high heat when no amount of
cool beverage intake seems to satiate that inner thirst.
It is no surprise then that whisky
goes off the favoured list for most drinkers except the
really committed whisky drinker who would drink only
whisky when mercury hits a high in North Indian summers.
traditional liquor Feni needs more than just tipsy
tourists to keep it going. Cashing on the Cashew-Apple
is the Mantra says Dr. Mohan Krishna.
Excerpts: Think of Goa, and
you think of fun, frolic, food and feni. Goa the land of
feni and beaches, where there is no difference between
day and night. Goa has warm days and cool nights a
perfect weather for a getaway from hectic day to day
life. In Goa party never ends and parties are really hot
and wild. The fine Feni drink of Goa is a must try if
you are visiting Goa. Cashew Feni is the "Exotic drink"
of Goa. Although classified under "country liquor"
devoted Feni drinkers rank it amongst the best single
malt whiskies and rare cognacs. The drink proved
medicinally efficacious too. Colds, flu, fever, body
ache, cuts, abrasions, bone fractures began being cured
with a small quantity of feni drunk or applied as per
the need of the malady. Best of all, the culture of Feni
is directly linked to the sustainability and wellbeing
of Goa's legendarily beautiful, but fragile environment.
Surprisingly, the manufacturing process of the Feni
primarily remains a cottage, and a localised industry,
involving several thousand families in villages
scattered across every nook and corner of the state.
Many of these have participated in this cultural
practice for decades. There are at vast number of mini-
pot still distillation units spread throughout the Goan
countryside; the unmistakable scent of fermenting cashew
is a heady accompaniment to hillside walks and village
strolls. It can be simplified to this equation: Feni
equals the spirit of Goa, and vice versa.
Besides being exported in growing
quantities, and remaining a favourite with Goa's large
tourist industry, like the Feni is still a Harmonious
drink that has bred the wonderfully democratic taverna,
the roadside village bar which will host the most
superior landlord and the most lowly tenant. Each will
sit on the same modest bench, with dignity intact, and
each will down the miracle spirit.
Love Hotel is a new alfresco dining and lounge
open-to-elements area with innumerable possibilities and
ai is a new offering of contemporary Japanese cuisine.
Obviously for that statement to be true ai had to open
its doors first. And it did!!! This new restaurant
located on the second floor of Metropolitan mall in
Saket is true to its name, ai is a symbol of love in
Excerpts: Modern version of
Japanese cuisine could not have been presented with more
passion and love. Even the invite for the opening night
was classily done: a set of six square cardboard sheets
declaring poems by Hitamoaro, Yosano, Akiko, Ono No
Komachi, Yosano Akiao, and an anonymous Geisha poem. The
sixth declared the time and date of official opening.
The Japanese art inspired motifs on these were a visual
delight much like the food and décor of the place. The
alphabets ai are printed on pictures of round stones in
two different shades, somehow evoking images of Japan as
we see it in our minds, whether we have experienced it
in person, or just in films and literature.
Love is in the air
From the moment the tall bamboo
screens part to allow you entry beyond a smiling
hostess, and you see the impressive yet relaxed, suave
yet functional designer uniforms of the serving staff,
it is easy to sense the love and pride with which each
small detail has been met. No element here is too small.
From glassware to crockery and cutlery; the fine
miniaturized and pretty serving platters for single
culinary beauties. For the bigger portions of sushi or
sashimi, the deeper bowls have been handcrafted in
different parts of the country. Sea shells and mother of
pearl shells that shine (showcasing love for the effect
they create) are used as serving plates as well. Of
course if you are not deft with the disposable set of
chopsticks there is the staid fork and knife to enjoy
your food with.