Category Archives: profiles

Accord steps up premium push with high-end Cognac

With brandy being the favourite tipple of the South, little wonder Accord is moving into the Cognac space as the shift to premium becomes the norm of the industry.



Chennai based, Accord Distillers & Brewers Private Limited, with two distilleries in Goa and Chennai, and a manufacturing capacity of 1 million cases per month, and one of the largest beer producer in South India is making its presence felt across the Indian States and is exporting to South East Asia, West Asia, Africa and other countries. They also import Scotch and Cognac to sell across the Indian subcontinent and to export to other countries and are now venturing in production of high-end Cognacs.

They have allied with Carlsberg to produce and market their commodities in Tamil Nadu and throughout the country.

Henry X special reserve Brandy XO is the latest offering from Accord Distilleries. It is the world’s first XO brandy and is currently available at select outlets in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Goa.

Henry X special reserve Brandy XO – a brandy with floral notes, with an opening nose of vanilla, honey and prune that evolves to mellow wine, sweet oak accents and finishes with a satin-smooth, languid fade. Bestowed with a revered lineage and backed by an equally legendary status, the House of Bardinet has set the benchmark in creating the perfect French grape brandy.

Right from handpicking the choicest of grapes from the finest vineyards in France to distilling the spirits and maturing them for 5 years in fine oak casks, Henry X special reserve Brandy XO weaves its lingering magic on the discerning palate, says P. K. Das, CEO, The Accord Group.

Sure enough, Henry X special reserve Brandy XO promises to be a Connoisseur’s Delight and is priced at `2,400 the most highly priced Cognac in Tamil Nadu, he adds. XO brandy is India’s only 100% pure french grape brandy. It is being sold in mono cartons and the packaging is done in India by Manohar Packaging. The Cognac bottles are imported from China. As it is a high-end brand the target for Hobson’s is 2,000 cases per month, says R Kumar, Director, Operations. The premium market growth is 33%.

Total sales in Tamil Nadu in the premium segment for the period April to August 2019 is 6.8 million cases as compared to 5.1 million cases during the same period in August 2018.

The company’s other brands include Age de Oak (Premium), Holandas Spanish VSOP Brandy, Missionary Monk, Royal Accord Gold, Blender Magic, King Nap, Accord French, Wonderland, Accord No. 1, and Evening Walker.

Age De Oak is an exquisite blend with imported matured french grape brandy, which is produced by double distilling the wine made from selected variety of ugni blanc french grapes in a copper pot still and superiorly Aged in Limousin Oakwood cask to give a brilliant amber colour, mellow, full-bodied, long warming and silky soft mouthfeel. Total growth in this premium segment is 2% with sales of 4,500 cases during April to August 2019.

The Holandas Spanish VSOP brandy blended with imported grape spirit from Spain, that is fine distilled in a copper still and traditionally aged in oak wood casks to excellence to give you rich colour, overpowering aroma, fuller and smoother mouthfeel.

A rare blended with selected grape spirit to give it brilliant colour, a pleasing aroma, strong body and mellow. Holandas Spanish retails between `201 to `280 and sales for five months is 52,000 cases. Their other brands are Missionary and Royal Accord Blue.

To Mark 75 years of Rampur Distillery, Radico Khaitan launches ‘Rampur Signature Reserve Indian Single Malt Whisky ’

To mark 75 years of Rampur Distillery, Radico Khaitan launches a super luxury variant of Rampur Indian single malt whisky in the International market. These are individually numbered bottles strictly on allocation basis.

Radico Khaitan Ltd launched a super luxury expression of Rampur Indian Single Malt Whisky called ‘Rampur Signature Reserve Indian Single Malt Whisky’ to commemorate 75 years of its Rampur Distillery at The Whisky Show, London and Whisky Live, Paris recently.

The Rampur Signature Reserve Indian single malt whisky is a limited release of 400 bottles worldwide. Each bottled is individually numbered and carries the signature of Dr Lalit Khaitan, Chairman and the Rampur Master Maker. Bottled at cask strength of 43.9%, this exquisite offering is now available in UK, Europe, USA and a few selected markets in Asia Pacific. It will also be available at Dubai Duty Free as well as India Duty Free in the coming weeks.

The Indian Single Malt whisky is named after Radico Khaitan’s first distillery in Rampur and is aged, distilled and matured in the foothills of the scenic Himalayas.

Existing expressions in Rampur Indian Single Malt Whisky: Rampur Select Indian Single Malt Whisky

Aged in the foothills of Himalayas, this exquisite whisky is the Kohinoor of Single Malts.

This beautiful nectar is a winner of many international awards including the Double Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirit Competition, USA and also rated amongst the Top 20 whiskies of the world at #5.

Rampur Sherry PX Finish Indian Single Malt Whisky

A limited 48 Casks release. A few exceptional casks of Rampur Single Malt Whisky post maturation in American Oak were handpicked by our Malt Master and transferred to Sherry PX Butts from Jerez, Spain for finishing. The result is a rich and fruity whisky with layers of complex spice and dried fruit.

Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Single Malt Whisky

The newest expression of Rampur, has spent 2/3rd of its life in American Oak Bourbon Casks and 1/3rd in European Oak Sherry Oloroso Casks. Delicate balsamic vanilla notes from the American white oak compliment the full-bodied aroma; Rich caramel, dried dark fruits and spicy tonality from European oak add to the depth. Already available in the UK and EU, shipments underway to over 30 countries.

Speaking on the launch, Mr. Sanjeev Banga, President, International Business, Radico Khaitan Ltd said “We are very proud to launch the new expression ‘Rampur Signature Reserve Indian Single Malt Whisky ‘ within three years of release of the umbrella brand. Our Indian Single Malt Whisky – Rampur has gained global recognition and love from its consumers.Today, the brand has emerged as one of the most desired Indian single malt whisky brands in the world and, we hope, the new expression will also gain similar acknowledgement and appreciation from our luxury whisky lovers. We are honoured to provide a chance to savour one of the Oldest Malts from India to the International Single Malt connoisseurs”.

Angus Dundee forays into the Indian retail market

Angus Dundee a major player in Bulk Scotch is venturing into the Scotch market with the launch of MacRoys Blended Scotch Whisky. Sanjeev Puri, Regional Director, Sub Continent and Hasan Bakhtawar, General Manager-Marketing unveils some of the company’s other plans.



How has Angus Dundee fared over the years? Angus Dundee India Pvt Ltd (ADIPL) is a major player in Bulk Scotch and supplying to a large stratum of liquor manufacturers in India. A 100% subsidiary of Angus Dundee Distillers Plc Scotland, has been present in India for almost close to a decade. With a strong lineage and expertise to deliver consistent quality product, ADIPL has created a niche and made its presence felt over the years.

What are the major activities undertaken in the Indian market?

ADIPL not only offer Bulk Scotch but provide customised solutions which are customer and brand specific. This has been instrumental in sustaining and stabilising its position in the highly competitive ‘Bulk Scotch Whisky’ market.

What prompted your decision to produce your own Scotch brands in India?

Significant shift in the Indian consumer behaviour, rising disposable income with influence of social media enabling splurge on good things, growth in socialising occasions and experimenting with different types of alcohol had been an inspiration for ADIPL to introduce own Blended Scotch Whisky to the Indian consumers.

What has been the response to the launch of MacRoys in Chandigarh and other cities?

MacRoys Blended Scotch Whisky is available in select category selling outlets in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mohali and Chhattisgarh. Launched in the month of July the brand is gradually making its presence felt.

Are you looking at a pan India launch and what is the time frame for the launch?

In a phased manner, launch in Telangana, Chandigarh and Rajasthan in current financial year, whereas Delhi and Orissa intended for the next fiscal.

What is the positioning for the brand and what are the marketing activities planned for the brand?

The present positioning portrays the product attribute “Experience the Bourbon finish luxury” and distinguishes the brand from competition. We intend to target potential consumer base tapping key touch points like On & Off Trade, Social gatherings and other socialising occasions. In addition, we are also focussing on digital as we can’t be mere spectators to the consumer’s journey and need to make our presence felt by participating in trending conversations, crafting influencer opinions and generate access to the brand online.

How is your brand different from other competing brands available in the market?

MacRoys Blended Scotch Whisky is distilled, aged and blended in Scotland. matured using the BB1 barrels, the once used American Oak Bourbon barrels holding only bourbon infuses a distinct character to the whisky. First Fill Bourbon Cask are generally used for producing Single Malt Whiskies. Crafted using exclusive malt, matured in bourbon casks whose charring produces lactins which help develop coconut and vanilla characteristics, bringing out soft, fruity-sweet and smooth blend.

Are you planning to launch more brands in the Indian market in future?

Plans are afoot to cater other price points in the Blended Scotch and Premium Scotch segments in near future.

Would you like to throw some light on your Duty-Free business at the Indian airports?

We have an exceptional BIO portfolio consisting aged and non-aged single malts, blended malts and Blended Scotch whiskies. Brands like “Tomintoul Spey Side Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, “Smokey Joe Blended Malt”, Non-Aged Single Malt variant “Glen Parker Single Malt Scotch Whisky” and Blended Scotch whisky named “Parkers” have presence at the Delhi Travel Retail.

Keepers of the Quaich award for Kartik Mohindra

Kartik Mohindra, CMO, Pernod Ricard India Pvt. Ltd., shares his feelings on receiving the Keepers of the Quaich award and the raison d etre for the company’s performance this year.

Congratulations and what does the Keepers of the Quaich award mean to you?

Thank you! As, Keepers of the Quaich, our mission is to uphold and celebrate the values and image of Scotch whisky globally. Collectively, the international society represents many thousands of years of experience and knowledge of Scotch whisky. I am honoured to join the distinguished Keepers and Masters, and together, commit to preserve and promote the world’s finest distilled spirit, the Scotch whisky. I look forward to actively participating and celebrating Scotch whisky both in India and abroad.

How would you rate the company’s performance until June 2019? What are the indications of the next year’s growth?

At PRI, our domestic as well as international whisky portfolios are witnessing double-digit growth. The international brands portfolio is surely seeing faster growth vis-a-vis the domestic counterparts. Having said that, we have successfully capitalised on the burgeoning wave of premiumisation. To continue our dominance in the international brands. We have introduced Chivas XV in the super premium bottled in origin scotch, the super-premium gin, Monkey 47, and the three new single malts in India – Aberlour, Scapa and Longmorn to stay at the forefront to meet the consumers’ needs and strive in changing market dynamics.

We capitalise every consumption opportunity with our expansive portfolio and drive premiumisation. Our flagship brands like Royal Stag, Blenders Pride, 100 Pipers, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Absolut, Royal Salute, are brands with purpose and values of authenticity, legacy and craftsmanship.


India, as you know, with over 1.3 billion population, offers a huge opportunity pool of consumers with varied tastes and preferences, segmented by their demographic and income strata. PRI’s expansive portfolio caters to this very diverse group across price points – ranging from the value consumer going for Imperial Blue, Deluxe consumer to Royal Stag, Premium consumer (Blenders Pride, BP Reserve) to the ultra luxury consumers opting for Royal Salute, The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal 18.

The Indian millennial consumers present an exciting opportunity for us. Outburst of trends such as increase in cocktail explorations, and consumption of different liquor categories by the same consumer have exemplified the experimental nature of millennials. To selectively cater to these new consumers, PRI’s portfolio has an offering of aspirational brands – flavourful Absolut vodka, gin – Monkey47 and Beefeater and Jacobs Creek Wine. Further, India presents immense scope through untapped geographical territories. These could prove to be great growth engines in the future. We foresee this category buoyancy to continue and grow in strong double digits.

How can the industry work together to boost the growth of the alcobev industry?

In comparison to several global markets, India faces higher incidence of taxation leading to out-of-reach end consumer prices; consequentially decelerating adoption and premiumisation.

The alcobev industry, albeit facing challenges of accessibility, also offers room for improvement in making the products available to consumers, with a wider retail footprint. The industry forces can come together towards building more favourable duty structures and regulations, leading to enhanced consumer demand.

How has Pernod Ricard been able to withstand the disruptions that have plagued the industry in the last few years?

Pernod Ricard India’s brands have preserved their footholds as category leaders, complemented by our strong consumer connect, great quality and innovation in products in the industry while catering to every consumption opportunity with our expansive portfolio. These factors coupled with our premiumisation strategy, has certainly helped PRI in withstanding the disruptions.

What is your product strategy for future growth? Given the low consumer confidence sentiment do you see a blip in the premiumisation strategy?

Globally, India offers one of the largest growth potential in spirits consumption. This leads to greater opportunities in a wider range of segments, both mature and emerging. We expect premiumisation to continue strongly in the foreseeable future, due to a positive long-term demographic and socio-economic trends led by a young and growing consumer population, rising middle and affluent class and increasing purchasing power, rapid urbanisation, and rise in Alcobev consumption by women. PRI with its brand offerings will continue to drive premiumization across categories and price points.

Given the trade wars happening worldwide, do you see the lowering of duties on Scotch or US alcobev brands?

The lowering of tariffs or duties will ultimately deliver benefits to the consumers, positively impacting the affordability. The economic conflicts in trade are a matter of bilateral discussions between the countries or the governments.

Which have been your star brands and on what brands do you plan to focus next year?

For us, every brand in our vast portfolio of domestic and imported brands are vital. Like I mentioned earlier, we continue to focus on driving premiumisation and with our consumer centric approach and the changing consumer dynamics led by millennials and generation Z, we believe that we have the right portfolio mix which will focus on creating informative-engaging experience and connect with this generation, striving for a great experience at various touchpoints, be it travel retail, liquor shops or high-end restaurants.

We, at Pernod Ricard, are always in line with the evolving consumers’ attitude and preferences that are occasioned by the constant variation in the living standards and global trends. The Glenlivet, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Wine portfolio led by Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo and Blenders Pride will be the key growth engines in the year.

How has your digital marketing strategy helped in sales growth?

With increasing aspirations, disposable incomes and exposure to global brands, the Indian millennial consumers present an exciting opportunity for us. Five out of six millennials connect with companies on social media and spend about 25 hours per week online. We will leverage our strengths in consumer marketing through digital media and continue to lead and drive consumer preference and connect with millennials through brands such as Royal Stag, Blenders Pride, 100 Pipers, Chivas Regal, Monkey 47, Absolut, Jameson, Ballantine’s, Beefeater, Jacob’s Creek, and Campo Viejo, to name a few.

Kartik Mohindra Now a Part of Keepers of the Quaich, a Global Celebration of Scotch whisky

The global success of Scotch whisky has been celebrated with new members of the Keepers of the Quaich being inducted into the international society at a private ceremony held at Blair Castle in Blair Atholl. Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard India, has been firmly inducted as The Keeper, in recognition of the outstanding commitment to Scotch Whisky. To preserve the unique cachet and exclusivity of The Keepers, New Keepers and Masters are inducted at a private ceremony held in the Scottish Highlands. This is the 61st Ceremony and Banquet to take place here. Collectively, the society represents many thousands of years of experience and knowledge of Scotch whisky. The Keepers of the Quaich is an international society which was established by the Scotch whisky industry to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those who produce and promote the world’s ­finest distilled spirit. Only a limited number of people are inducted as Keepers each year in recognition of their exceptional contribution. To date, just over 2,800 men and women from more than 100 countries have received the honour. Together with the select few that are subsequently distinguished as Master of the Quaich, they represent thousands of years of shared experience and knowledge.

“As Keepers of the Quaich, our mission is to uphold and celebrate the values and image of Scotch Whisky globally. I am honored to join the distinguished Keepers and Masters, and together, commit to preserve and promote the world’s finest distilled spirit, the Scotch Whisky. I look forward to actively participating and celebrating Scotch Whisky both in India and abroad,” said Kartik Mohindra at the prestigious honour.

Keepers of the Quaich supports international chapters of the society in 10 key markets around the world – where members continue to promote the prestigious image of Scotch whisky.

Marrying ethanol with petrol the need of the hour

In an interview with Ambrosia, V.N. Raina, Director General, AIDA, stresses on the need to blend 10% of ethanol with Petrol to save valuable foreign exchange for the country.

What is the current situation of ethanol production in India?

The production of ethanol for mixing with petrol was introduced in the country during the year 2006-07. Ethanol is an important bio-fuel and is blended with petrol under EBP programme. It is an important component of national bio fuels programme. Ethanol is a source of energy which is indigenous, non polluting and virtually inexhaustible.Therefore to promote this bio fuel, the govt. has scaled up the blending targets which are given below:-

Production of Surplus grains declared (2018-19)

S.No.               Products Qty                 ( Lac Tonnes)

1                        Maize                            30-40

2                        Bajra                             9.00

3                       Jawar                             4.70

The initial aim was to mix 5% ethanol with petrol by the season 2016-17. However, to promote bio fuel the govt. scaled up the blending targets from 5% to 10% to be achieved by the season 2021-22 under Ethanol Blended with Petrol Programme (EBP). However, due to various reasons implementation of this programme was not seriously taken up till the year 2017 when the govt. notified the programme. But with all the efforts of the govt. and the distillery industry producing ethanol from molasses 5% blending could not be achieved even till the year 2016-17, However, during the current year 2018-19 (closing 30th Nov. 2018) total blending of approx. 6.2% has already been achieved. This also included the ethanol produced from grains “not fit for human consumption” to supplement the ethanol supplies.

The entire ethanol game plan envisaged by the govt. Can be explained in nutshell as below:

Centre has set a target of 10% ethanol blending by petrol by 2022, leading to forex savings of `12,000 crores a year.

There was 3.5% blending in 2016-17 sugar season and 4.0% in 2015-16.

Nationwide average for ethanol blending stood at 4.02% as on Oct.1

The latest proposal will allow ethanol production from surplus quantities of maize, jawar and bajra, as well as other feedstock such as fruit and vegetable wastes.

Ethanol blending in petrol has risen from 38 crore litres in supply year 2013-14 to an estimated 146 crore litres in 2017-18.

What are the incentives being given by the government to ramp up the production given the increasing ethanol requirements in India?

The Govt. first introduced financial assistance scheme by extending financial assistance through spot loans to sugar mill attached distilleries to set up plant and machinery for production and enhancement of ethanol production capacities in the country. Many distilleries attached to sugar mills applied for and received the financial assistance form the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Distribution, GOI enabling them to put up distilleries and ethanol production equipment. The financial scheme included facility of interest subvention @ 6% per annum or 50% of rate of interest charged by banks, whichever is lower with certain conditions.

In order to augment ethanol production capacity and thereby also allow diversion of sugar for production of ethanol, in principal approval has been granted for extension of soft loan of `6139 crores though banks to the mills for setting up new distilleries /expansion of existing distilleries and installation of incineration boilers or installation of any method as approved by Central Pollution Control Board for Zero Liquid Discharge for which Government will bear interest subvention of `1332 crore. About 114 sugar mills are likely to be benefitted as a result of this measure and ethanol production capacity of sugar mills in the country is likely to be enhanced by about 200 crore litres per annum in the coming three years.

The Govt. has notified a new scheme on 08.03.2019 for extending financial assistance to sugar mills for enhancement and augmentation of ethanol production capacity. Under the scheme Govt. would bear `2,790 core towards interest subvention for extending indicative loan amount of `12,900 crore by banks to the sugar mills for augmentation of ethanol producing capacity.

The Govt. has notified a scheme on 08.03.2019 for extending financial assistance to molasses based stand-alone distilleries. Under the scheme, Govt. would bear `565 cores towards interest subvention for extending indicative loan amount of `2600 crore by banks to the molasses based stand-alone distilleries to augment their ethanol production capacity.

On further request from distillery industry and All India Distillers’ Association (AIDA), govt. has also agreed to consider financial assistance on the same condition to grain based distilleries for producing ethanol. Many distilleries have already applied. In the meantime loans have been sanctioned as far as molasses based distilleries are concerned. The scheme for loans to grain based distilleries is also under consideration of the govt. This step will provide further possible resources towards increasing the production of ethanol under EBP Programme.

What are the current requirements of ethanol and are there any deficit and how are they bridging it?

The current requirement as per the programme of introducing 10% blending by the year 2022 requires approximately 300 crore ltrs. of ethanol. The govt. has announced various incentives and financial assistance to the industry. It is hoped by the closing of the year 2019-20 when new distilleries would have gone up including increase in existing production capacities in the existing units due to the positive steps taken by the govt., the 10% blending will be achieved by the year 2020- 21/22.

The prices announced for Ethanol for supply year 2019-20 (1st Dec. 2019 – 30 Nov. 2020) are:

S.No.                            Products                                              Price (Rs.) / BL

1                                   “C” Heavy Molasses                            43.75

2                                   “B” Heavy Molasses                            54.27

3                                   Sugarcane Juice                                   59.48 + GST & Transportation charges

The revision of prices of ethanol supplied from grains is also under consideration by the govt. in consultation with the distillery industry

In addition the govt. has also taken steps in consultation with the industry to set up and revise the prices of ethanol from time to time so that the industry feels protected about the production and supply of ethanol. A very recent price increase has been introduced by the govt. 01.01.2019, which now will bring the price of ethanol from various sources to the level given below w.e.f. 01/12/2019.

The revision of prices of ethanol supplied from grains is also under consideration by the govt. in consultation with the distillery industry.

The govt. of India very rightly announced use of surplus grains in addition to the spoilt and damaged grains for production of ethanol. The govt. has declared following surplus grains under this policy which could be used for production of ethanol for the year 2018-19. It will be further increased and announced from time to time by the govt. in consultation with the concerned departments. The present quantities of availability of surplus grains in the country which could be used by distilleries for production of ethanol are as below:

Will the petroleum companies be able to absorb the new price increase?

The setting up of prices are being announced by the govt. of India in consultation with the petroleum companies and it has been agreed that the prices have to be revised from time to time if the need be, to ensure continuous supply of ethanol and to increase its production as much as possible. The petroleum companies are part of the final prices of ethanol, calculated and announced by the govt.

What is the current requirements of ENA in the liquor industry ? Is there sufficient production to meet the needs of the industry?

Current requirement of ethanol as well as ENA depends upon the production and availability of raw materials for the basic production of Rectified Spirit (R.S)from which ENA and / or ethanol is produced. As per the present scenario the supply of ENA for liquors is being carried out by the industry alongwith supplies of ethanol. However, the market now competitive and has to be kept in mind for prices of liquor which are controlled by the state govts. Considering the market price of the ENA vis-a-vis that of Ethanol, it should be fair to the liquor industry as well.

A good quantity of grain spirit being produced is also in the market now and there sufficient quantity is available both for ENA and Ethanol as per the programme set up by the govt. However, it vastly depends upon competitive pricing and balanced affordability.

What incentives is the government giving for ENA production, both for domestic consumption as well as for exports?

The procurement and supply of ENA for potable purposes comes under the ambit of state govts. and the state govts. have to ensure good prices for IMFL for continuous availability of ENA in the competitive market of alcohol production in the field. The Central Govt. has no role for fixation or revising liquor rates and prices in the market, which is under the govts. of respective states.

What are the alternative feedstocks government is looking at for ethanol production besides traditional molasses and grain? And what are the challenges we have for the same?

The govt. of India has been on the look out for many alternatives, sources and resources for finding out alternative feed stocks for production of Ethanol. The govt. has already considered all feed stocks which are possibly available like agricultural wastes, forest wastes, bagasse, bamboo miscellaneous millets etc. and the research in this regard is continuously being undertaken for selecting and finalising the new feed stocks for production of ethanol.

There is an option under the research programme which will continue for searching out various resources of feed stocks and resources from all fields will be studied provided they are reasonably affordable and competitive with other feedstocks.

Will electric vehicles disrupt the demand for petrol and as a result the demand for ethanol?

No, in the near foreseeable future there is no possible disruption of demand for petrol or ethanol as a result of introducing electric vehicle in the country. The demand for petrol is rather expected to increase rapidly as the number of motor vehicles on the road is increasing by the day.

Bio Liquors: Keeping up the spirit

We are world’s first and only bio liquors/herbal liquors company which is focussed on making health functional liquors derived from extensive research and development in the fields of biotechnology, ayurveda and liquor industry.


Our excellence and expertise is in delivering quality liquor products worldwide for about a decade. We are focussed on enhancing the drinking habits of the connoisseurs worldwide. Our goal is to enhance the richness, quality, smoothness drinkability and taste of consumers through our quality and unique liquor brands. We have unique techniques of excellent blending of spirits, choosing perfect spirits for perfect blends and the result is great taste, best aroma and drinkability.


Bio liquors are enriched with bio alkaloids, without using any synthetic flavours and colours. They were found to be giving the same intoxication levels as any other liquor brands. Dr. Srinivas Amarnath is the inventor of bio liquors – after contributing to the field of ayurveda for about 30 years, he is well versed with the botanicals and its benefits, developed bio liquors first time in the world. He relates to Ambrosia his journey off the beaten track.

What contributed to the evolution of bio liquors?

Alcoholism is the severe problem affecting millions of people worldwide, damaging the healthcare and is increasing the healthcare budgetting all over the world, which is an alarming issue. Due to my own personal suffering in family, i.e. my own brother was an alcoholic, made me to find a solution for the problem. With the pain in my mind, I have decided to develop a radically different product to safeguard crores of lives all over. The synthetic flavours which are added in regular liquors have synthetic flavours, artificial colours, smoke and glycerine. I started my research and came up with bio liquors for the first time in the world. My credentials as an ayurvedic doctor and botanist helped. I had been awarded with The Best Doctor and Botanist Award from Sri Venkateswara University. As an Ayurvedic doctor invention is my passion. I have been kept on inventing different type of healthcare products. When I used to get patients suffering from alcohol related ailments, I had made up my mind to come up with a different prototypes of liquor, which has less side effects on human body, and in the process I am successful in inventing the same. Our bio liquors are enriched with the best botanicals, natural herbs and bio alkaloids, without using any artificial/synthetic flavours.

What kind of investment you have made in this venture?

The Investments are made during the research phase, development phase and marketing phase. Initially in the research phase 7 million USD has been spent on R&D, after blend development, the sampling of bio liquors blends till the acceptance. The major research areas worldwide are USA, Australia, China, Russia and some African countries. several thousands of blends are made to match consumers’ palate which is now an absolute delight to consumers. And the development phase various trademarks, intellectual properties and several excise approvals has been taken and the budgetting of 3.2 million USD has been made. We have secured our brands worldwide with proper intellectual products especially in India, USA, Australia and several other countries. The marketing phase includes, development of unique packaging design, logo design, bottles procurement and carton designing for our portfolio of brands has been given major emphasis to present it to the consumers. We have developed a product portfolio keeping in mind both normal consumers and elite consumers.

You have nine brands in your portfolio which includes three whiskies, one bourbon, one rum, one vodka, one brandy, one wine and one beer. Which brands will you focus on? Do you plan to have a gin which is a growing segment and the perfect liquor to have infusions?

The white spirits segments are growing worldwide, and the consumers acceptance are multiplying, and also other segments are growing at an equal pace. The primary focus is on whisky, rum in North Indian markets, for South Indian markets we are focussing more on whisky and brandy. On India level we have a portfolio of nine products, by the end of 2022. We are also focussing on importing bio bourbon whisky developed by us in USA, and two different segments of luxury whiskies has been developed which will be launched by the end of 2022. All the products are scientifically developed, followed by international liquor standards, keeping in mind and adopted unique methods. In USA we are focussing on all the three segments as all are under Distilled Spirits Speciality. The FDA/TTB has been approved around 10 product formulas under the Distilled Spirits Speciality class. We are also planning to focus on wine segment which will be manufactured and Bottled in Napa Valley and to be distributed across the globe.

Which states are your brands present in? What is the timeline to go pan-India?

There has been a trial launch in some states like Punjab, Haryana, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Maharashtra and Telangana. We have taken different opinion polls in India and worldwide. By 2022 we are planning to launch our speciality products Pan-India and awaiting for the best connoisseur response.

Some of our Indian products which are being launched on a trial basis are Bio Whisky Premium 16 Naturals, Today’s Special Bio Whisky, Bio Rum Premium, En-Sign Bio Brandy and Bio Vodka.

When do you plan to launch the bio-wine and the bio-beer?

By 2024 we have plans to launch bio wine and bio beer. For now we are keeping up our spirits high at the entry level. As a testing phaser, we have already exported several containers of bio beer to the UK and Singapore and have received immense positive response. After commercial launch of spirits and attaining a fair market share of spirits. 2024 is going to witness the bio wine and beer era.



How do your bio liquors infused with a blend made out of bio alkaloids help in the wellness of consumers? Could you elaborate on each segment like whisky, vodka, brandy and rum?

Bio liquors/herbal liquors were enriched with bio alkaloids, best botanicals and selected herbs, without using any synthetic flavours and colours. They were found to be giving the same intoxication levels as any other IMFL brands, wherein the ill effects are greatly minimised. As a botanist and ayurvedic doctor, I have wide knowledge on developing different kinds of blends without using synthetic flavours, that’s the reason all the bio liquors products are very special and got appreciation from the US federal government. The US federal government has given chance to make many samples in the USA. The US government has approved bio liquors/herbal liquors products after submitting more relevant data on development and then only we have got the US approvals. We have unique techniques of excellent blending of spirits, choosing perfect spirits for perfect blends and the result is great taste, best aroma and drinkability.

“PORTFOLIO OF BRANDS” Bio whisky, bio vodka, bio rum, bio brandy, bio gin, or be it a beer or wine, we have the largest portfolio for all the consumer needs under single umbrella BIO WORLD of brands. Bio Whisky premium 16 Naturals is enriched with 16 types of natural botanicals and finest select herbs, bio alkaloids, finest matured malts, infused in the American and French oak, which gives a perfect taste and matured aroma.

Today’s Special is enriched with select botanicals, matured malt spirits, finest grain spirits and infused with American and French oak, making it your Today’s Special. Bio Vodka is enriched with aloe, honey and natural bourbon vanilla, select botanicals, five times filtered for best taste and smooth finish.

Bio Rum – A premium quality rum made from matured cane spirits, high quality grain ena. Infused with best botanicals and select herbs makes Bio Rum stand out in the crowd. It has a very unique aroma and the speciality of Bio Rum is, it can be consumed in any season irrespective of climatic conditions which makes it more special. En-Sign Bio Brandy is made from matured grape spirits, high quality grain ena, infused with select botanicals, bio alkaloids and herbal ingredients. It has a unique fruity palate and best aroma. We aim to give the consumer the joy in each and every sip and being a part of celebration in every moment, making bio liquors as a better choice for the consumers.

Bourbon whiskey from America, speciality whisky from Australia, blended whiskies and single malt whisky from India and Europe, and very soon bio Scotch whiskies from Europe, we are also planning to start production in several African countries. We have privilege of selling our product mix in many parts of the world. We are exporting/importing and globalising our spirits brands as a part of cultural mix and cultural diversification. We have unique techniques of excellent blending of spirits. We are adopting unique techniques of aging spirits, select imported American and French Oak are imported choosing perfect spirits for perfect blends and the result is great taste, best aroma and drinkability.

“THE BLENDING PASSION” Very passionate team dedicated and committed on Research & Development, introduction of new techniques for perfect blend is a challenge in emerging liquor industry. “The right spirits are brought with the right passion”.

“THE SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE” The bio world spirits are spirits of excellence. The Spirits of Excellence is bought to you by our core innovation technology.

BIO LIQUORS – ACHEIVEMENTS WORLDWIDE. Approval of Bio Liquors products in TTB/FDA/GRAS and COLA – USA Allotted with own bottling unit by Australian government in New South Wales.

Winner – Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Spirits Tasting Competition – 75th annual convention & exposition – a remarkable achievement for new brand.

Approval of 16 botanical ingredients from GRAS an FDA regulatory authority. All the ingredients which we use for blending our spirits are approved by GRAS.

Allotted with a own bottling unit with tax free exemption for six years by Michigan Government in Northern Shores, Michigan. The plant will be operational by the end of 2019 – Bio care spirits, USA LLC. MICHIGAN – USA BIO LIQUORS NEWS

The Norton Shores City Council approved recently a six-year tax abatement for bio spirits, concurrent with the company’s six-year lease at the location.

The city council has also approved blueprints. One of its kind. The officials are impressed with the concept and has given tax exemption.

What is the consumer response in terms of taste and price?

The price points of bio liquors are very well accepted, particularly when you create a brand for the consumers. What more the consumer require? The acceptance is exciting in terms of mouth publicity, appreciation and in terms of price the luxury segment products are priced in premium segment that’s what all I can say in a word.

Given this is a new concept, and not a tried and tested one, how do you plan to promote your brands across the country?

We have done more research on how to promote this unique concept and found out impressive methods to promote the product. Several tasting sessions has been already done worldwide from regular consumers to elite consumers, different advertising strategy, get togethers, inviting doctors, bureaucrats, and common consumers, retailers, through different brain storming sessions and get togethers with bar and restaurant owners, not only in India, but worldwide also. Beyond its unique formulation, bio liquors are best in taste, smoothness and drinkability, which are major assets of the product and major marketing and publicity will be generated by consumers themselves. A perfect branding, packaging, marketing strategy is always necessary to promote a product in the market. For me as a doctor, I am also associated with passionate businesses for around 15 years. We have a core packaging development team and designing team, continuously working on the product. Not only the product, the presentation has got much more applause than we have ever expected and we are happy about the results.

What kind of marketing activity do you plan for exports, CSD and other bulk buyers?

We have already started exports. Very soon we are planning to export from USA to South America and Europe. We have appointed different agencies worldwide to take care of all the activities, Our brand presence in CSD, INCS across all the depots in India is almost confirmed and we have ample capacity to supply as per the requirements. Support in terms of point of sales material, branding material is required for exports. Also the export market is dependent on several other factors like quality, taste and packaging, which we are already providing, so the bulk buyers gets an advantage of timely supply and good discounts all over.

How is the company geared to meet the production requirements of the nationwide launches lined up? Do you need special production facilities for bio infusions?

We have lease and tie-up facilities in different parts of India. We have ample production capacity in our company based at USA in Michigan state, The Bio Care USA LLC have ample capacity to cater the ongoing demand to different countries like USA, South American countries and European countries. We also have production facilities in USA, Australia, Uganda and India. We are also planning to export to some Asian countries and UAE from India. Our capacities will be fully utilised with the on-going demand. The bio infusions and blend making are in-house facilities available in USA, India and Australia. The bio infusions will be sent to different bottling units all over the world. We have necessary capacity to cater to the demand of entire world.

The brands are doing well in certain part of USA. Would you like to throw light on your US operations?

All the products are doing certainly well in the US market. The products are trial started in Illinois and Colorado. We are already doing tasting sessions in around 25 states across the USA. Our USA partner is Shafiq Khimani from Natural Spirits USA. We have test marketed the USA already and receiving great response from the country. We are setting up our unit in Michigan, USA for which we already have got six years of tax exemption for the concept from Michigan Government. Currently the manufacturing is carried at South Charleston, USA and distributed across by our partner company Natural Spirits USA. Every effort has been made by Natural Spirits USA for continuous supply of the products. As mentioned earlier, we have won Silver Medal in WSWA USA competition, which is of great boost to the company and products.

The consumers are very delighted about the products and the pricing.

Illicit alcohol trade gives hangover to the nation

Mr. Nakul Pasricha, President Authentication Solution Providers Association gives insights on the cons of the spurious liquor industry.

What is the impact of spurious liquor industry for the government, people and the IMFL industry?

Illicit trade in alcohol undermines sustainable economic growth. Collectively, it affects all the stake holders in society in various terms. While the industry and Government lose revenue, it is the consumer who is impacted the most as illicit trade in liquor poses a serious threat to consumer health. Poor quality or spurious liquor can cause death and serious illness, as seen in connection with several incidents of hooch tragedy in India. According to various media reports more than 150 persons died in India due to hooch tragedies in year 2019.

Excise Duty which is an important source of revenue is continually under threat from the practise of illicit trade. Considerable amount of money which could be used to benefit the government services of a country are being diverted to the pockets of criminals participating in illegal trading. However, more than loss of tax revenue, it could costs Government loss of image/goodwill. The hooch tragedies occur due to illicit liquor consumption eroded the image of state governments which create challenge for state government to ensure consumer confidence.

How can the government streamline the industry to benefit the poorer section of society to get affordable liquor at a price which will deter rampant drinking and the alcobev industry should not be labeled as a sin industry?

There is a direct link between prices and consumption. Post hooch tragedy in Uttar Pradesh, the Department set up a committee, which found that poorer section are using smuggled liquor, as it was available at almost half of the price of Government Country Liquor bottles. This will continue to be an area where careful thought is needed in order to preserve a balance.

What are the challenges of fighting the illicit liquor trade? How can the FSSAI regulate the quality of liquor sold?

Illicit alcohol is prevalent in both developed and developing countries, with no country immune to this threat. For example, the UK government lost £1.3 billion in excise tax revenue in the period 2015-16, and Dutch authorities estimate the annual revenue losses from illicit trade in alcohol at €100 million. Liquor bootlegging in New York City alone is estimated to have cost the city US$1 billion in lost taxes over the past 15 years. The illicit alcohol products are sold as either counterfeits of genuine brands or are unlabelled (Source: TRACEIT.ORG). When producing counterfeits, the forgery goes beyond the product’s label, often including bottle designs and caps.

In India, State Excise Department faces various challenges such as

a) How to combat smuggling and illicit liquor
b) How to ensure fool proof labeling and supply chain? How to ensure consumer confidence
c) How to increase excise revenue and the most important the problem of identification / authentication – How to differentiate fake liquor bottles from genuine?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had last year issued a regulation on alcoholic beverages and the same became effective from April 1. As per this regulation, all liquor bottles need to carry a statutory warning that “consumption of alcohol is injurious to health. Be safe-don’t drink and drive”. So far, it was primarily regulated by excise commissioners and they were only looking at alcoholic content and the toxic substances in alcohol. Now, there are far more elaborate standards that are benchmarked with the global standards and in certain cases, they have taken the Indian context also in consideration. In addition to excise commissioners, the food safety commissioners would also look into the enforcement of these standards.

What role can the excise department play to boost revenue to ensure a win-win situation for the government, the consumer and the industry?

Excise Departments faces various challenges. The key from these are revenue enhancement & protection, as well as to ensure person get genuine products. Anti-Counterfeiting solutions like TAX Stamps (Excise Adhesive Label) plays an important role. We believe that State Excise Departments need to study. he importance of Tax Stamps in the global context and apply such solutions in India.

In India, Excise Department need to think about TAX Stamps as tool beyond tax collection tools. The existence of cheaper, less-sophisticated, less effective stamps and marks potentially dilute the value proposition around their use as platforms to implement the global guidelines. Instead of using it is a mere product, they need to reframe their work on their Tax Stamp Programme as an opportunity for consumer and industry empowerment.

The new generation Tax Stamps with technological innovation in security printing, serialised coding, data processing and mobile communications, can be into sophisticated devices with additional roles that related to product authentication, supply chain security & data intelligence. This will ensure and help State Excise Department in building their policy towards reduced consumption and more revenue.

Will a rationing system deter excessive drinking?

We think this differ to case to case basis and lots depend on State Excise Policy. About half a century ago, broad restrictions on who could purchase alcoholic beverages were fairly common. The most extensive of such systems was the Bratt rationing scheme in Sweden in force until 1955, which assigned a quantitatively defined upper limit for spirits purchases per person with different rations for males and females and for younger age groups. Studies have shown that rationing systems in Greenland, Poland and Sweden reduced alcohol-related harm (Anderson & Baumberg, 2006). In Spitzbergen (Norway) there still exists a rationing system for purchases of alcoholic beverages. However, these research are conducting long time back and need to be done in current geographical scenario.

Source: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/191369/9-Availability-of-alcohol.pdf?ua=1

Can cheap liquor manufacturing companies create a fund to help families affected by alcoholics?

Yes, it can be done in partnership with State Excise Department and various NGO. But, before that there is a need of creating & raising awareness at mass level. There is a need to take preventive as well as long term strategic goals. As preventive steps, there is a need of building an eco-systems where consumer get genuine and authentic product and must be involved in authentication process. In longer term strategy, lot of work need to be done towards liquor standardisation, monitoring of ethyl alcohol etc. Even today, in our hospitals are not well trained for treatment for people suffering from hooch incidents. Post the hooch tragedy in Uttar Pradesh, the Government committed find that there is a lack of guidelines in Hospitals for treatment of patients consuming spurious liquor.

Is banning of illicit liquor the way forward? (I think he means about Prohibition of liquor)?

Prohibition is not the only answer. Many times, prohibition leads to increased illicit liquor business. For example, liquor is prohibited in Gujarat, however, according to a recent study 38% youth in Gujarat consumes alcohol. Other than this, 12% people are consuming other forms of drugs such as cannabis. In last two years, police had seized liquor valued `254 crore. The Government had confirmed that due to prohibition there is an increase in smuggling from neighbouring state. In last two years total case reported 1,32,415 country liquor, 29,989 IMFL liquor. Now the state government is demanding compensation cost from central as they are losing `15,000 crore annually due to prohibition. Similarly in other prohibited state Bihar, the sale of other drugs products has increased significantly. As per latest report from Narcotics Control Bureau, Bihar top the chart in consumption of opium and hashish. In our country 16 crore people consume alcohol whilst 3.1 crore people use cannabis. India needs a comprehensive national policy to tackle alcohol and other forms of additives.

60 years on, NJM builds his Legion

It has been a long innings for N. J. Menon, here he shares the high points of his career. He has now formed a new company NJM Blends.

NJM, as he’s known amongst his friends, has six decades of experience in the Indian Alcohol industry and can undoubtedly be touted as one of the change-makers in the business.

N. Janardana Menon began his career as a chemist in 1959, at the first McDowell & Co. Distillery in Shertallay, Kerala. His unique technical acumen saw him rise to the rank of Unit Head. Subsequently, he became the Technical Director of the UB Group Spirits Division in 1977.

Armed with a sensory superiority that is a privilege of only a chosen few, he moved to Bangalore in 1988 as Vice President-Technical of the UB Group. Here, NJM successfully set up a world-class Technical Centre with CSIR recognition for Chemical & Sensory Analysis, Quality control, Product Development, Training and R&D facilities. He was also instrumental in formulating a Quality Control manual for the Distillery division of the Group. Perfection, precision and passion are among a few of the key attributes that that has truly shaped NJ Menon’s journey. In addition to the years of invaluable experience, training and learning through collaborations from around the world, NJM has amassed an unparalleled knowledge of brewing technology and blending craftsmanship. This exposure has allowed him to evolve his palate, producing unique blends for the Indian and international market.

McDowell’s Single Malt, McDowell’s No 1, Bagpiper, Diplomat, Signature, Gold Riband, Caesar Brandy, Honey Bee brandy, Celebration Rum, Old Cask Rum, Royal Treasure White Rum, Blue Riband Gin Duets and Romanov Vodka are just a few of the 300+ blends that NJM has developed during his career. He was also associated with the development of Black Dog 12 Year Scotch Whisky.

One of India’s most prolific and acknowledged blenders, NJ Menon also holds the unique distinction of having a model installation of his hands at the office of United Spirits, Bangalore.

After a successful tenure, NJM retired as Executive Vice President – Technical of the Spirits division in 1999, but continued as Technical Advisor to the UB Group till 2013.

But retirement only meant the beginning of a new chapter.

While working as a technical consultant to several distilleries, flavour companies and engineering firms, actively engaging in the development of blends, flavours, setting up of malt spirit plants and maturation facilities, he felt the need to do more. Having developed specialty products for clients, the time felt right for NJM to create his own legacy.

Thus, begins the story of Legion.

In September 2018, at the age of 82, Menon registered his flagship enterprise- NJM Blends, a labour of passion and perseverance. The first step towards the journey to create his legacy, the company released its first product in February 2019, a premium blended whisky named Legion. “After retirement in 1999, as a consultant, I developed a number of brands for various companies. Few of them became very popular and have now sold over a million cases. As a result, I was sought after by IMFL manufacturers.”

“This got me thinking – I should have a brand of my own with my name associated with it. I wanted the product to be superior to any existing Indian made whisky and comparable to some of the Indian bottled Scotch whiskeys. Legion is the outcome of my ambition,” explains master blender, NJ Menon.

Why Legion?

“Only a select few deserve a Legion”, reads the product label, and this couldn’t ring truer of the eponymous brand and its brand ambassador. A premium blend that is poised to raise the bar in the Indian liquor industry, Legion promises to be a sensory delight with delicate floral hints, hints of sweet cinnamon and an earthy peat finish.

Legion by NJM Blends is a story of pure passion, expertise and toil. A testament to Menon’s love for the art of blending and his indefatigable ‘spirit’, Legion marks his step into the spotlight.

It is, therefore, only fitting to raise our glasses to the true legend and to us, his ever-faithful Legion.

N. J. Menon makes dreams a reality

Dreams can be achieved if you only continue to believe and strive to make them your reality. This has never been exemplified more than with the life of master blender N. J. Menon.

What are some of the key achievements in your career?

Over a career spanning 60+ years, I have created numerous blends for most of the leading Distillers and bottlers for domestic and export markets, including some of the most popular brands which have gone on to become “millionaires”. As a blender, when a blend meets the customers’ taste preferences and the same is reflected through the sales volumes, it is highly satisfying.

I was instrumental in the development of Gin ‘Duets’ and flavoured vodkas for the first time in India.

During my years with the industry, I have led projects for set up and commission of Malt spirt manufacturing and maturation facilities, too.

In addition, there are quite a few “key” achievements which are close to my heart. Undoubtedly, setting up the Technical Centre for UB’s Spirits Division in 1988 would be one of the biggest – the centre was recognised and appreciated by CSIR for Chemical & Sensory Analysis, QC, Product development and R&D facilities. I was also actively associated with BIS in setting up of Standards for Alcoholic beverages. Leading the team which developed India’s first Single Malt – McDowell’s Single Malt Whisky – was another achievement I am really proud of.

What were the challenges to make the transition to entrepreneurship?

Since my retirement, I have continued as a technical consultant for various liquor manufacturers in India. While consulting cannot be compared to entrepreneurship in its true sense, there was always a desire to launch a portfolio of my own brands. A key challenge was to identify a production partner who will be with us for the long term, and we made progress towards that end in early 2018.

Once we got that out of the way, the finer details needed to be addressed: identifying the right agency for designing the packaging, and vendor partners for sourcing the packaging material, marketing communication, etc. For a person like me who has always focussed on the technical aspects of a product, these were interesting challenges to overcome.

The other challenge of course is finance, since we are currently running on our own steam, though many well-wishers have indicated their interest in providing funds for the venture.

Do you feel you have sufficient experience to take the brand and the company forward?

Absolutely, I wouldn’t have ventured into it if I did not feel confident about it. As far as products are concerned, my experience of knowing the Indian consumers’ taste, even as it changed over the years, will be a great advantage. Moreover, we see the Indian customer is now willing to experiment (and here I am not referring to liquor industry alone) and you cannot get a better time to launch a new product.

How is your product different from those in the market place especially in terms of quality, taste, colour which are your key strengths?

Legion Premium Whisky is an exceptionally balanced blend of Highland and Islay Malts and the taste is not something you will find in any of the regular Indian whiskies. We were clear we wanted to create a product for the discerning consumer, and the initial feedback has been extremely positive. If you talk of the colour, too, Legion stands out with a strong golden-brown hue which is often seen only in leading Scotch brands.

What are your immediate goals for the company?

We would like to establish Legion Premium Whisky as the best in segment blended whisky in the country. Currently we are now in Goa, and before the end of the financial year we would like to roll it out to couple of other key markets too.

Do you see your branching into other segments of IMFL like Rum, Brandy, Vodka and Gin?

Well, the obvious answer is ‘yes’. However, we would like to take it slowly and look at a few niche segments and therefore we will not be looking at a spectrum of products for the immediate future.

Are you looking at a pan India distribution?

Yes, absolutely. Again, we want to play it step-by-step and make sure we do justice in the markets we step into.

SCAM: Be Honest. Drink it. Don’t do it.

Launched in Chandigarh, the promoters of SCAM Beer are confident of its success.

Trying to create its own path, SCAM would like to create an unique beer brand and would like to achieve its ultimate goal of spreading excitement and positivity around the brand. In an industry dominated by major multinationals brands, SCAM seeks to create a niche for itself.

The vision of this refreshingly modern brand is backed up by the team behind it. Sugliq Global Pvt. Ltd. is promoted by Chairman Sanjay Lamba with other three Directors Paramjit Singh, Amardeep Singh and Baljinder Kashyap, who are trailblazers in their fields and form the backbone of SCAM, bringing forward a breathtaking new experience through it.

The promoters also shared some interesting figures related to beer consumption in North Indian states. While Punjab has 40 lac cases consumption per annum, Haryana consumes 100 lac cases every year. Chandigarh with 12 lac cases per annum is growing . Delhi has a consumption of 150 Lac Cases every year and HP 12 lac cases per annum. These states are growing at around 15% per annum.

We spoke to the management in detail. Excerpts of the interview.

What is the rationale behind the launch of SCAM?

Sanjay Lamba: Through the creation and launch of SCAM we are bringing something to the market which hasn’t been done before. We wanted to break the generic and monotonous ideas. And by thinking outside the box, the concept behind SCAM was born. The product is refreshing modern and unique in its content, in terms of taste and design. It holds so much character and depth which caters to the consumer who wants something more than a run-of-the-mill. SCAM does just that and raises the bar with its brilliant concept, proving the consumer with a stellar product.

How do you plan to leverage the positives behind the name, the all caps and the can design?

Sanjay Lamba: Every single design motif was carefully curated for SCAM. Every element represents and voices something about what the brand stands for and what it brings to the table. The name, SCAM in itself is multilayered. We wanted to reappropriate the term and make it unique to ourselves and redefine what it stands for. We extracted the rebellious and curious elements from it and showcased it through SCAM. It’s is now symbolic for rebellious side that exists in all of us along with honesty, creating the perfect balance and harmony.

The designs on the can echo that sentiment and ideology. It features the logo written in graffiti spray-painted font, an act of rebellion. The raising of the hands are symbolic of the youth generation uniting together for a single cause, their strength in numbers and unique personalities. Above all, by having SCAM in all caps, we want this message to reach the masses loud and clear for all to hear.

Do you own your brewery? What is your production capacity? Do you plan to have bottle packaging in 650ml and 330ml size?

Amardeep Singh: We have outsourced the production capacity and availability of capacity shall not be an issue. We shall be launching bottles in the sizes of 330ml and 650ml very soon. What is your pricing strategy for SCAM beer? Paramjit Singh: We are pricing SCAM in the premium segment. Our priority shall be to build consumer franchise through aspirational marketing and build volume on a strong foundation.

Which states do you plan to launch SCAM and is there a timeframe for an All India launch?

Baljinder Kashya: We have already launched in the states of Punjab and Haryana and shall be launching in Chandigarh, UP and Delhi very soon. Our plans are to have a national presence in 2 years time.

What is your impressions of the Indian beer market and what kind of market share are you targetting?

Paramjit Singh: The states, we are targetting in the beginning, are short of supplies and always demand driven. There is always a consumer for quality product. Our first priority is to connect with our target audience and bridge the gap between demand and supply. Market share is just a number. We believe in chasing value and not volume alone.

What is your target audience? Have you plans to broad base your target audience?

Sanjay Lamba : Our target audience are the ones who don’t believe in doing scam but drinking it. They are the ones who don’t want to follow the status quo and aren’t afraid of make their own paths and journeys. They are the trendsetters and influencers, wanting to make a positive impact on the world around them. They radiate exuberance everywhere they go, which makes SCAM, curious and bubbly the perfect companion.

Amara Breweries – Broadening its horizons

In what is seen as a a partnership that formed Amara Breweries, the newly registered company is making an impact in the growing Indian Alcobev Industry.

  When two come together with one vision and one purpose, the results are often surprising to the world. Amara Breweries is a result of one such partnership between Mr. Arvind Singla of the Singla Group and Mr. Hirdesh Chopra, one of the respected and experienced professionals from the liquor industry. The latest entrant into the Indian liquor industry, Amara was incorporated in June 2019 as the newest member of the Singla Group. Based out of Chandigarh, Amara is quickly making its presence felt in the Indian liquor industry.

The Singla Group was amongst the earliest pioneers in the Indian alcohol industry. From humble beginnings in pre-independence India, the Group today boasts of a rich legacy and heritage that only a handful of business houses can claim. With an operational history dating back over 70 years, the Group has not just kept pace with the changing times, but has moved smartly .

Today, the Singla Group comprises of three IMFL bottling units, 15 wholesale and over 800 retail vends across Punjab and Chandigarh. At the helm of the business is Mr. Arvind Singla, the Group’s leading light and current Managing Director says the Singla Group’s total turnover is to the tune of approx. `1500 crores and apart from liquor, the Group’s varied business interests include hospitality, mining and C&F for multinational B.I.O.

Mr. Arvind Singla has ambitious plans for the Singla Group. He actively runs his decades old family business with a keen eye on future growth. A man of few words, he says the secret to his success is to work hard and an open mind to the changing business environment, markets, and consumers that help him take the best decisions for his company. Mr Singla admits his strength lies in prudent financial planning, treasury management, compliance and internal controls.

“We have seen the business evolve and change over the years. As it has changed, we have adapted with it. We rapidly implement reforms inside and outside the Group. We are cognizant that ultimately, the customer is the king. Our policies as a company have always evolved to work for the highest benefit of our consumers. And we have done this with our heads held high and an unwavering commitment to grow and expand the business,” says Singla

A quick look at Mr. Hirdesh Chopra’s credentials reveal an impressive professional background. For more than 30 years, he has held prestigious leadership positions at India’s top IMFL companies. Amara Breweries is well on its way to realise the lofty ambitions it has set for itself.

“Amara Breweries is the newest entrant in the Indian liquor industry. But the standards we have set for ourselves are at par or even better than leading international brands. In all areas of our operations, we will lead with industry’s best practises, be it in manufacturing, sourcing, product consistency and quality, packaging, distribution or marketing, Amara Breweries aims to be the best amongst the best,” says Mr. Hirdesh Chopra, Director, Amara Breweries.

Rise of the next generation

The stalwarts may hold the reins to the fortunes of Amara Breweries, but the next generation is not far behind. Mr. Hirdesh Chopra firmly believes in grooming and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs to take their vision forward. One of the young stars in Amara’s management is Mr. Ish Chopra, an architect by training, and in the liquor business by passion. Despite being new to the industry, Ish says he has gained insights into the liquor business, from his father Mr. Hirdesh Chopra’s long experience in the liquor industry.

“I think the trend to create and market beers in niche variants has been well accepted in india. However, one should not ignore the opportunity to produce and promote a balanced, well-carbonated, high quality and interestingly packaged beer for the mass markets.” Ish Chopra, Head, Business Development, Amara Breweries.

Ish adds that the gradual shift towards modest drinking amongst all age groups and a social, healthier lifestyle will prove a boost to the beer industry. The industry is currently growing at a healthy double digit rate in India. Ish has set ambitious goals for the future of his products. He believes that even though these goals seem lofty, they are very much achievable with the right strategy, planning, and flawless execution of that strategy.

This is amongst the biggest state-of-the-art bottling plants in India today with a current capacity of eight lakh cases per month of bottled and canned beer, with an extended capacity of 12 Lakh cases per month. Set up with the latest brewing, processing and bottling machinery from Germany and Italy.

Ginsberg – The Premium Strong Beer

The brand is currently being brewed and shipped out from Amara’s first brewery. Going by the name of Ginsberg, this strong yet smooth beer is produced using 100% Argentinian 2 Row Malts and the finest imported hops and yeasts from Europe. Amara claims that Ginsberg is the smoothest beer in the strong beer category in its price range.

Not just in production, Ginsberg will be aggressively marketed as well. The brand is drawing up plans to establish an imposing presence in the pubs and bars segment with kegs and draught beer product extensions. Currently available in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and U.P., Ginsberg will be available all over north India within the next 6 months have a pan India presence within 1 year. After establishing a national presence, Ginsberg plans to export to international markets as well. The company says that talks are already underway in key markets like the US, Europe and Australia.

Closer at home, Ginsberg will soon announce a known face from Bollywood as a Brand Ambassador to help its marketing efforts. The brand is already active on Social Media and will be rolling out a pan India marketing initiative in the very near future.

 

In an interview Mr. Arvind Singla, provides deep insights about the company’s game plan.

What was the rationale behind the company’s brewery project? What is the overall project cost?

Beer is one of the largest consumer categories in India around $7 billion in market size. It is also one of the fastest growing consumer categories, growing at double digit CAGR for the last 10 years.

People are shifting to modest drinking and beer being one of the most recession resilient industries in the market, with market growing at a pace of 10-12% each year in India.

Considering the large consumer base and the modest consumption of 5 litre per capita compared to regional average of 20.9 litre and 110 litres in developed countries, we look at the huge scope in the growth of beer across India with a big chunk of young population with high disposable income. Considering this, we are confident, so we have planned to set up a world class brewery.

Mr. Arvind Singla and Mr. Hirdesh Chopra



What are the important features of your greenfield project brewery?

Strategic location- within the heart of Punjab: 25 kms from Haryana; 45 kms Chandigarh; 200 kms from Delhi/UP and Rajasthan, 150 km from Uttrakhand and 75kms from Himachal Pradesh. This will make logistics cost very economical.

As the brewing industry is a heavy water consumption industry and the country is facing the ground water shortages across the nation, we are the only company using canal water, which is supposed to be the purest form of water source for any type of liquor with permission from the Punjab government. The water is coming from uphills, having a lot of minerals and the canal is full of water across the year.

What is the capacity of the brewery and what are the expansion plans for the future? Will excess capacity be offered for contract manufacturing?

Current capacity is 0.8 million cases per annum. Expansion is possible upto 1.3 million cases per annum as per existing design plan. Yes, we already are in talks with multi nationals for tie ups for current capacity and future capacity

Which states do you plan to initially distribute your brands? When do you plan to go pan India?

We have opened markets for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and we plan to open markets for Delhi and Rajasthan soon. We aim to go Pan India in the financial year 2020-21.

What are the major features that will make your product stand out in the crowded market place?

In times of craft beers and light beers buzzing the market and being promoted tremendously well, somewhere the original identity of a rich in taste and a smooth STRONG BEER was lost.

Through our brands Ginsberg and Hophead, we plan to revolutionise the industry with a strong beer which is as smooth possible.The product is also reasonably priced.

Strong beer still has the biggest share in the country as compared to its other variants.

Ish Chopra



What are your immediate targets for your beer brands and what marketing initiatives have you lined-up to meet your targets?

Immediate targets are to make our brand establish itself in the market and prove the industry that we are here to last long.

This is only possible by using best quality raw material to ensure smoothness in a strong variant that our consumers will like. We are importing two row barley from Argentina.

We have hired one of the best and biggest marketing agency for our promotions and branding and that will be visible both online and offline in the next one month in all states where we are operational.

Do you plan to have a strong beer, canned beer and any plans for craft beers?

We are already producing strong beer in two variants Ginsberg and Hophead which are creating a boom in the market.

We also plan to introduce a lighter craft beer segment in late October. We have huge plans for the latter product which I hope to share when it is really close to launch.

What major challenges do you foresee in the beer industry?

We are new in the brewery business, but not new in the alcobev industry. Our philosophy and understanding of the market is that the consumer should get the right product at the right price. Our belief is that the consumer deserves the best of every penny he/she spends for the product.

Also considering the market trend, if we talk state wise, there is a shortfall in supply of beer in the season time and hence we believe with our future expansion prospects, not only in the state of Punjab, but across the nation and overseas, we would overcome this challenge in the years to come.

Beer being a volume game, will you plan for a brewery elsewhere in India?

Yes, as we plan to open markets down South, West and East, where we would be going both for our own plants and bottling arrangements in the respective states.