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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.

Beam Suntory Sets High Ambitions for India

After the lull comes the storm as Beam Suntory launches it first Truly International Indian Whisky Oaksmith and the The House of Suntory portfolio including Yamazaki, Hibiki and Roku Gin.

Oaksmith is a premium Indian whisky, crafted by Suntory’s Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, the creator of iconic Japanese whiskies Hibiki and Yamazaki, marks Beam Suntory’s entry into the Indian whisky segment and combines the finest Scotch Malts and American Bourbon using Japanese blending craft to bring the best of East and West for Indian consumers. The global premium spirits company brings its finest and the most popular Japanese whiskies – Yamazaki and Hibiki – and Japanese craft gin – Roku – to India with the launch of The House of Suntory portfolio.

Beam Suntory, the global premium spirits company, has launched a range of four premium spirits in India, signaling its commitment and strategy to grow in India in line with its ambition to reach USD 1 billion in revenue by 2030. The highlight of the launch is the introduction of Oaksmith Indian whisky – created by world-renowned blender Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender, Suntory – using traditional Japanese craftsmanship, blended with the finest Scotch Malt whiskies and American Bourbons to make a whisky unique and authentic to Indian taste. In addition, the iconic Japanese whiskies Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve and Hibiki Japanese Harmony, along with Roku® Japanese Craft gin have also been launched from The House of Suntory portfolio.

The launch of Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold whisky in India is key to Beam Suntory’s growth strategy and signifies the importance of India to the company. Along with the introduction of Yamazaki, Hibiki and Roku, it reinforces the company’s commitment to lead the growth and premiumisation of the Indian spirits market.

The launch event of The House of Suntory was graced by Shinji Fukuyo, world-renowned Chief Blender at Suntory, the creator of the luxury and iconic blends of Hibiki and Yamazaki whiskies, and Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India, along with George Kumekawa, Representative, The House of Suntory. The event highlighted the exceptional legacy of The House of Suntory, the art of making delicate whiskies, and the importance of India for Beam Suntory globally. The House of Suntory brands are being launched across all major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve will be available in the range of INR 10,900 to INR 20,000 across different states; Hibiki Japanese Harmony for INR 10,900 to INR 20,000 and Roku® gin for INR 5,500 to INR 7,100.

“We are thrilled by the appreciation that Hibiki and Yamazaki have received from consumers worldwide, and their popularity among spirits aficionados in India. The growing premiumisation of the Indian market and the appreciation for finely crafted spirits made this the right time to launch these brands, along with Roku gin. Indians today are well-travelled and exposed to global trends, which inspired the creation of Oaksmith for whisky lovers in India,” says Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India. On Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold, he said, “The beautiful blend incorporates years of tradition that the Beam Suntory family upholds while showcasing Shinji-san’s award-winning blending capabilities making it a whisky that, quite simply, no one else could possibly create.”

Oaksmith is a celebration of mastery and global collaboration, combining the best of East and West in a bottle. Blended by Shinji Fukuyo himself, Oaksmith is a harmonious blend of matured Scotch Malts that adds a strong flavour profile and American Bourbon whiskey, aged for at least four years in American Oak barrels which lends it an unmatched smoothness. That gives the brand its unique name and also inspires the round bottle labels celebrating its distinctive craftsmanship. Befitting the unique and distinct flavour palate, the exquisite six-sided bottle with beveled edges and a tall neck has an equally unique and ergonomic design that is an ode to the finest Japanese craftsmanship and makes it stand tall in this category. The company is celebrating its international pedigree with the use of the world map in all its creative expressions.

Much like The House of Suntory, Oaksmith blend is made using the finest ingredients and sincerity of process that is a hallmark of Beam Suntory’s Japanese heritage which is unique to this brand in the entire Indian whisky category. From seed to sip, the whisky is meticulously crafted to achieve a blend like no other resulting in a bold spirit that is rich on the nose yet approachable and well-balanced on one’s palate with a bright, smooth and unexpectedly long finish. The unique offering will be available at the price of an Indian whisky and the flavourful palate will be well suited to both beginners and connoisseurs alike. There will be two variants of the product – Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold – which will launch on 19th December 2019 in the state of Maharashtra, followed by the rest of the country in due course. Oaksmith Gold will be priced in the range of INR 800 to INR 1,300, while Oaksmith will be priced in the range of INR 600 to INR 900 depending upon the state of launch. Both the variants will be premium in their respective categories due to the international quality of blend and craftsmanship they offer.

A relentless quest for perfection and commitment to using only the highest- quality ingredients encapsulates Suntory’s philosophy to create the finest spirit possible. Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender at Suntory, said, “My travels across the world have helped me understand and appreciate sophisticated flavour profiles. Blending spirits is about creating a harmonious flavour by weaving culture and tradition along with one’s own form of self-expression. This is an art in itself and I am very grateful that people globally have appreciated the quality and artistry of Hibiki and Yamazaki, and hopefully now, Oaksmith.” On Oaksmith®, he added, “While making this blend, I wanted to ensure that it resonates specifically well with the Indian audience while being truly international in its spirit. I travelled across the country to understand the different food cultures and flavours. Eventually what I saw, heard and tasted, helped me explore a variety of flavour profiles and finalize this harmonious blend which has the best of America, Scotland and Japanese craftsmanship. I am extremely proud as the final product completely reimagines what the future of Indian whisky can be.”

On the rising popularity of gin in India, George Kumekawa, Representative, The House of Suntory, said, “In recent years, we have noticed a strong trend among Indians to opt for premium and craft gin as their spirit of choice as it has a softer flavour profile which is easier on the throat and refreshing in its appeal – perfect for brunches and refreshment occasions. With the introduction of Roku gin in India, we are looking to further build the market for both gin as well as craft spirits to help enthusiasts discover new tastes and experiences.”

Carnuntum is the newest DAC winegrowing region

The region has reached agreement on the three levels Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (‘villages’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine), and continues to emphasise the traditional and highly prized varieties: white wine vinified from Chardonnay, Weissburgunder or Grüner Veltliner, red wine from Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch.

The family of Austrian winegrowing regions with DAC status continues to grow: after thorough consideration and regional consensus, the winegrowing region Carnuntum submitted a draft DAC regulation, which has now been signed by the Federal Minister for Sustainability & Tourism Maria Patek. This makes Carnuntum the fourteenth Austrian winegrowing region with specific protections in place for regionally typical wines.

Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) summarises: ‘With the DAC regulation that has now been enacted, Carnuntum is also embarking on the successful path of origin-based marketing. The winegrowers have succeeded in working out a profile that will unmistakably express and convey the characteristics of their region in both red and white wine, and will ensure even greater distinctiveness’.

Three levels, regionally typical grape varieties

Like the Steiermark, Kamptal, Kremstal and Traisental, the region Carnuntum – located in the eastern part of Austria between Vienna and the Slovak border, encompassing an area of 906 hectares under vines – will henceforth implement a three-level DAC regulation: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (‘villages’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine). The varietal palette focuses on the region’s marquee players: for white wines Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Grüner Veltliner, and the reds Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Monovarietal Carnuntum DAC wines must be vinified exclusively from these varieties, while blends must contain at least two thirds of one of them. This means that cuvées can also contain up to a third of other approved Qualitätswein (quality wine) varieties – for example, in a red wine, Sankt Laurent, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Flavour profile

Carnuntum has been showing very well now for quite some time, with distinctive red wines and robustly structured whites. The new DAC regulation stipulates that all wines must conform to the flavour profile ‘dry’, and that red wines must also have an alcohol content of at least 12%. In addition, Ortswein and Riedenwein must be given adequate time to develop their distinctive and expressive character: the application for obtaining a Federal Inspection Number may not be submitted before 15 March for white wine and not before 1 November in the year following the harvest for red wine.

Rubin Carnuntum will remain

The established brand Rubin Carnuntum will remain in place parallel to the DAC regulation, and will continue to provide a guarantee of special and regionally typical wines vinified from the variety Zweigelt.

Was does DAC signify?

Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) is a legal indication of origin for regionally typical Austrian Qualitätswein. So if a wine label features the name of a winegrowing region in combination with ‘DAC’, one is guaranteed a wine of quality that is typical of the region. A DAC wine may only be produced from the grape varieties specified for that DAC region and must comply with all requirements of the regulation established by the region. There are currently 14 DAC winegrowing regions in Austria. Wines that do not meet the DAC requirements will bear the name of the respective federal state as an indication of provenance, as part of the variety of available wines at this level of origin.

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.

Churchgate just got Foo-ed!!

As legacy remains a witness, we realise that the famous Kamling has lived to be the most iconic Chinese restaurants throughout the ages. Inheriting their forefathers’ culinary versatility, Ryan and Keenan Tham, once again return, not only to ‘restore’ Kamling’s grandeur, but instead ‘evolve and expand’ its wings towards Asian Tapas dining by launching their newest property Foo Town.

Sited amongst the whirl of Churchgate, Foo Town is established where Kamling used to be – like an offspring born out of the mother’s womb. Since the Tham family has been revered for their warm hospitality experience, Mumbai’s first new age Asian Tapas restaurant also embraces this heirloom with a splendid 80-90 seating expanse. With outside seating as well, the restaurant welcomes its guests with a light caress of the green foliage that spreads above, outside as well as inside – a view seldom found.

There is awe in the air as we perceive that Foo Town is an extension of Foo Phoenix, yet diverging from it with 20 new dishes, including the Kamling Classics. Heritage remains intact as Foo Town serves the scrumptious Kamling Hakka Chicken and the delicieux whole Pomfret, along with the rich Kamling Peking Fish.

The ‘Tapas Touch’ of the restaurant is well inaugurated with the Foo Asian Burrata, a modern asian salad containing burrata and quinoa, crowned with romaine lettuce with a dash of avocado smears. The Po-Po gives us the Belgium pork with Pomelo, crafted with kafir and lemongrass, topped with peanuts and cherry tomatoes. Boasting an All- Day dining menu, Foo Town promises a prominent taste, with the splendour of its Small Plates like the lavish Japanese Vegetable Tempura with a Wasabi Mayo Dip or the Crispy Snapper glazed with a Black Bean Sauce.

Introducing the Vegan Sushi dish, The ‘Foo Vegan’ Maki provides flavours of black rice, with a dash of avocado and Thai chillies, garnished with yam beans, guacamole and miso paste. The nourishing and wholesome Steamed Foo Baskets guides one through the gourmet realms of great health and nutrition, stretching from the Edamame and Pod; the Prawns topped with Pixian sauce and the lightly cooked Super Foo Salad. The Foo Sticky Rice with Lotus leaf contains a variation for the non-vegetarians with a dash of chicken, while the Sweet Potato sided with black bean sauce gives out a creamy escapade.

The newly added Broccoli dumpling bursts into flavours, as the Spicy Tofu dumplings tingle taste buds. Also, first time in Mumbai, the audience will be amused to find the splendid Chocolate and Marshmallow Sushi Roll, on the dessert menu, right next to The Yuzu Orange Cream Caramel promises to create fascination just as the rest of the menu does.

Foo Town serves us with an indulgence of brilliant cocktails by inhouse mixologist Dimitri Lezinska, with the menu quartered into four intuitive portions. The Foo Tails hails the menu with the Absolut blended Foo King and Foo Queen, followed by Miso Sour and the discerning Gateway Pavillion. As Gin remains the vogue of the era, the menu then presents the Gin Tails – a luscious collection of Gin blends like the Spanish G&T and Foo By The Bay. The sparkle and shimmer of the drink is well displayed by the High Tails collection, where the tall glasses clink to smooth down the Marine Drive Mule and the Fountain Road Cooler. And the menu’s hindmost category remains the Wine Tails – a sombre assemblage of Sangrias from around the globe.

The Tham Family, yet again with Foo Town, presents to us a plethora of the greatest Fine Dining Asian culinary experience along with an inherited aura of warmth and hospitality to perch not only onto our food palates, but also our hearts.

Thirsty City 127 opens bar in the city from the prohibition era

REMO offers a drinking experience of bygone prohibition era.


Prohibition era is just a memory but the thrill of the forbidden fruit still has its very own magic. Bringing back an era of subterfuge and smokescreens is a speakeasy Remo, an overground bar named and modelled on the original, where Remo returns with his magical potions of flavours, herbs, botanicals and alcohol. Mixes and con-coctions he had gathered in his wide spread travels across the world.

Its not going to be easy to find Remo. You’ll need friends in “high places” because entry is by invitation only. Secret knocks and frequently changed passwords will keep in regulars and block out all CI’s eyes and snitchers.

It was the gravest of times right in the middle of the darkest era in t he city’s history. Prohibition was in full force in Bombay Presidency, and it’s capital, the feisty big little port city of Bombay bore the brunt of this the worst. Unable to control the menace with just the corrupt police forces, who were generally sympathetic to the cause of the tipplers, the administration engaged private militias of moral police who cracked down on the remaining revellers with puritanical fury.

A pall of gloom had descended upon this beautiful town by the ‘Bay’. But as we know, the night is always darkest before the dawn. And it is at this point of the story, we present our protagonist, the swashbuckling hero, who saves the day.

Remo grew up in Cuncolim in Portuguese Goa, the independent territory to the south of Bombay Presidency, where the days were easy, the living was good and the evenings were merry. Still, Remo dreamed of a more glamorous life and he set out to make his fortune and see the world. He left Cuncolim, to work on board a cargo ship, and he travelled all over the world, especially the Orient. There he discovered the dark arts of combining flavours and liquors and making exotic, magical potions that lit up the night.

Remo’s adventures eventually brought him to Bombay, and he was booked by the beguiling charms of the deacadent denizens of the city. He got a job as a supervisor in the loading depot of a cloth mill. Remo led a dual life. In the day he toiled hard at the mill. But at night he cleaned up well and became a part of the social set that mattered.

And then Prohibition was declared! The night that previously never ended, now just never happened. The days wore on, and misery reeked from the very pores of this classically beautiful Art Deco city.

No, this isn’t your regular, cookie cutter fairytale. Our hero wasn’t blonde, and he didn’t ride a white horse. Our hero’s handsome face was a burnished brown and he rode into town on a large coastal barge! Remo had thought through it all – the barge had ostensibly taken exports of bolts of cloth to Goa, but it was the secret cargo under the hold on its return that was the cunning plan. Bottles upon bottles of desperately needed alcohol, and also, herbs, fruits, botanicals – all kinds of exciting ingredients.

There is the open storage yard, on the roof of the mill, Remo set it up under the stars – hidden, yet quite in the plain sight – the most daring speakeasy bar. He dug deep into the reservoirs of his memories and recreated all the magical potions he had encountered on the travels. Remo’s was truly a go-send for the Thirsty of the City, and they left their sea-side mansions, and travelled deep into its innards, to an neighbourhood they never had been to, and sat under the stars, and restarted the night.

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.

Sterren Beer bags coveted award in Malaysia

Sterren Beer with its authentic German recipe produced in India under the guidelines of German Standards has been selected as the Prestigious Rising Brands of Asia 2019-20.

Incorporated in 2012, by the Chairman and Managing director, Mr. Vasudevan S, who established Sterren under the entity KALS Breweries.

Triumph of Celebration:

The KALS Group of Companies has varied interest spanning liquor retailing, motor fuel and lube, transport and logistics as well as FMCG distribution. With a grand vision to be successful in building a professional team with focused endeavors in the vertical and horizontal expansion of the Group, KALS Distilleries, KALS Beverages and KALS Breweries were formed by the visionary. Their products have already made their imprint in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, AP, Andaman, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, UP, and Puducherry and with global presence in UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, and Central Africa. Mr. Vasudevan’s visionary thought of Going Global has enabled the Product Life-Cycle Excellence of this product.

L to R: Dr. Uppilliapan Gopalan, COO, Mr. Arulmani Sekaran – Director and Mr. Rajasekaran S – Director of KALS Group, Dr. A.T. Kumara Raja – Chief Economic Advisor to Malaysian Government, Mr. Amit Sengupta – Indian Economist – Cabinet of Parliament to Modi and Chief Editor of Deccan Herald

Brand Quotient

With the headquarters in Chennai, under the stewardship of Mr. Vasudevan S, the brand Sterren celebrates more than 20% market share in this segment in TN and KALS employs more than 3000 employees. Sterren is an entry into ultra-premium with proud variants that fits the choice of all.

Sterren 6 – Premium Quality Beer (Wheat-base Beer)

Sterren 7 – Premium Quality Strong Beer (Lager Beer)

Sterren 8 – Premium Quality Extra Strong Beer (Extra Strong Beer)

Sterren- Authentic Sporty German Word-a Royal Blend of Excellence with Contemporised Brew which are available in three variants of ABV 6%, 7% and 8%. Its quality is simply stellar with an orange citrusy note and available in 650ml, 500 ml and 330 ml beverage grade cans.

Sterren 8 – Premium Strong Beer is enroute to ultra-premiumisation. Sterren -8 indeed is a mix that is consciously branded as a blend of contemporary touch with traditional pitch. Flavour and imported hops makes it a perfect top-notch that rollickingly touches the sentiments of millennials and youths. Sterren is manufactured under the aegis of an agreement through a Technology Transfer Programme from VLB (Berlin) with GMPs complying with the standards of Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22001:2015), Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001:2015), & QMS, & BRC AA Standards of International Food Safety Norms

Trailblazing

Practicing brand values like trust, respect, passion and commitment, they strive to create an organisation that delights customers and associates creating a higher recall in every market present. Using their unique German technology and German Recipe they have earned a turnover of 590 million USD. Their recipe is certified under the German Standards. In order to be part of the growing consumption of the beer business and also to be a full-spectrum alcoholic beverage company they strive to deliver integrity, quality and consistency with Sustainable Brand Augmentation for customer loyalty. Their brewery plant is a fully-automatic plant best-in-class in the country with end-to-end manufacturing. It is one of the few brewery plants in the country with Can Beer Line, which services the export market.

Cutting Edge

The German quality of Sterren Beer embarks the taste, flavour and texture on the taste-buds of the consumers. They have invested in research and surveys as they strongly believe in feedback resulting satisfaction and an opportunity of loyalty. The brand interacts and engages with their customers through influential marketing, participation in Oktober fest in Chennai (India), Beer fests and organising Sterren Nights. Their impeccable quality and product packaging also contribute to the high customer acceptance.

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan – awarded Most Admired Business Leader for 2019

The winners of the awards for most Admired Leaders 2019 and Prestigious Brands of Asia 2019 were announced at the Malaysia, Global Business Symposium organized by Herald Global at Hotel Inter Continental recently.



The event was attended by honourable guests from all over Asia. The guest of Honour included Datuk Seri Garry Chua – President, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Datuk AT Kumararajah – Deputy President, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI), Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid – Founder, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen, Dr Zainab, Malaysia Palm Oil Board and Mr. Surendran Menon from Malaysia Indian Business council. They shared their respective opinions and perspective alongwith all the leaders and brands in a quick byte session about the topic “One Asia – One Vision, One Identity, One Culture” for improving relations to maintain integrity between Asian nations.

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan

After a sharing views, eminent personalities and brands from all over Asia were awarded for their achievements and promising future.

Dr. Uppiliappan Gopalan, COO of KALS Group – awarded as most admired Business Leader for the year 2019. Other people who bagged the awards are Ms. Larissa Ping, Miss World Malaysia, Mr. Georg Sparschuh, President of SCHOTT tubing, Mr. Vishen Lakhiani, Mr. Uday Kotak – CMD of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Mr Mukesh Amabani – CEO of Reliance Industries Limited and Mr. Sachin Tendulkar – Indian Cricketer

Dr Uppiliappan Gopalan- Group COO (KALS Group), an astute strategist with impeccable business acumen, is a Chemical Engineer (B Tech) and an Post Diploma in Management from IIM-Bangalore with Finance & Operations Specialization. He holds an Executive Diploma in Advanced Financial Analytics from globally renowned London Business School (LBS). He also holds a Doctorate Degree in Supply Chain & Finance Integration. Dr Uppiliappan is also Prestigious awardee of Peter Drucker Award for the year 2016 for the outstanding performance in Finance & Business Process Automation Category of Automotive Sector during his stint with M/s Bhatia Brothers Group as COO, an AED 1.8 Mn Conglomerate in UAE with presence in 10 Countries.

Dr. Gopalan is a strategic think-tank cum implementer with recognised proficiency in spearheading operations/business with an aim to accomplish corporate plans and goals successfully. Dr. Gopalan is a well-known adjuct faculty for Finance & Supply Chain and has been invited by various forums as Conference Speaker & Conference Chair. Currently, he serves as Technical Advisory Committee – Titanium Finance Conference for Finance Professionals (Ireland).

He was a Keynote Speaker – Northwest Business Group Conference in Mastering Human Capital (Istanbul) – Role of TQM in Value Addition for Business; Session Planery Speaker –ARTDO – Manila (Asia-Pacific- Re-engineering Towards a Strategic and Driven Workforce; and Conference Co-Chair for 17 International Symposium of Banking, Finance, & Economics (Singapore).

Under Gopalan’s guidance, organisations attained various expertise in financial services and solutions. Being the Top 100 Globally acclaimed SAP Certified Resource for Finance, Treasury, & Supply Chain Modules & Top 10 Operational Excellence Certified Professional in APAC, Dr Gopalan’s core strength lies in Strategy Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, Emerging Markets Development, Techno-commercial Evaluations, Financial Modelling and Business Valuations, Project Management (Greenfield / Brown Field), and Blue Ocean Strategies. With the hands-on expertise in handling a revenue size of 600 Million USD, Dr. Gopalan is versatile on P & L Management, Operational Excellence, Excellence in Financial Management, & Projects Management.