Category Archives: profiles

Greater Than Gin, yes, what can be?

In the last couple of years, there has been a count of nearly 15 new gins entering the market, reviving the gin spirit, so to say. Of that 11 are from Goa. “It started off as a fluke as we decided that Goa had the best bottling partners for us. Since then, it seems quite a few others have taken that to be the precedent set and got to work,” that is Anand Virmani, the founder of Nao Spirits, manufacturers of Greater Than and Hapusa – premium crafted gins that are making waves in the markets available.

Virmani has his own take on how the crafted gin segment is evolving. He believes that Goa is not any more liberal than many other states in the country when it comes to excise policies. He dismisses it as a factor for launching Greater Than in Goa. Similarly, for the availability of botanicals, he states that the main ingredient for gin has to be either imported our sourced from the Himalayas in the north and that Goa is no different than any other part of the country when it comes to sourcing botanicals. As regards to water quality which Goa touts about, he is of the view that since all water in the production process has to be demineralised, the oriGinal water quality should not really matter.

But when it comes to Goa as the watering hole, he believes so that it is a great marketing tool. “The spirit of trying out new things is certainly important, especially since so many tourists come to Goa and take back gin bottles with them.”

Ambrosia: What is the reason for resurgence of gin which had taken a beating when vodka entered the Indian market?

Virmani: Vodka did this to gin in the 1950s globally. Gin has come back primarily because of the resurgence of cocktail bars which propagate classic cocktails, many of which just happen to use gin as their base. Ambrosia: There is a talk about uniqueness of the botanicals that goes into gin making. From a consumer perspective, what does botanicals signify?Virmani: Botanicals are what separate one gin from another. They are the main flavour components in any gin. Also, only high quality gins like ours use actual botanicals as opposed to artificial flavouring used by the cheaper, cold-compounded gins.

Ambrosia: What kind of growth are you seeing in the overall Gin market in India?

Virmani: The premium+ gin market in India (which excludes the low-end mass produced gins) are growing phenomenally well; easily around 30%+ CAGR. Ambrosia: We see a lot of premium brands being launched, is it because they are not meant for the masses?Virmani: Craft gin can only ever be premium. A low-priced gin, will not ever be a craft product. Even so, we aim to make our gins as accessible as possible.

Ambrosia: Could you tell us about the spark that led to the creation of Greater Than?

Virmani: The spark was quite simply the growing disbelief that India was not able to produce a single brand of gin that we could proudly call our own. It did not make sense to us, especially since India was the birthplace of the Gin & Tonic as well as the heart of the world spice trade.

Ambrosia: Which are the markets it is presently available now and what are your expansion plans?

Virmani: Our gins are present in seven different states across India currently as well as in over 15 countries outside India. We continue to grow as far and wide as we can without over-stretching ourselves. Assam has been our newest addition within India while New Zealand has become our most recent export market to come online.

Ambrosia: How is Hapusa different from Greater Than?

Virmani: Hapusa is a very small batch produced gin. It is primarily made with Himalayan juniper along with other botanicals found and sourced from across the country.

Ambrosia: Which are the markets it is present in – how do the two compete with each other – what is the USP of both?

Virmani: Greater Than is a classic London Dry Gin and is ideal for making cocktails or Gin & Tonics. Hapusa however, is far more characteristic and best enjoyed as a sipping gin or included in stirred cocktails like the Negroni or Martini.

Ambrosia: What next from ‘Nao Spirits’?

Virmani: Lots more

Stranger & Sons eyeing top bars of the world

Craft brands in India are currently redefining the perception of premiumness. It is now much more about authenticity, craftsmanship and embracing innovation to produce something uniquely groundbreaking. Today, we see a lot of Indian consumers are excited to try a good homegrown product without it being a compromise and brands like ours are able to communicate and ensure our high quality standards. Moreover, with India’s growing cocktail culture, we see that a lot of Indian consumers are open to trying new, atypical cocktails as well as local, homegrown products which have indeed contributed to the rise of craft producers in the country. That is Sakshi Saigal, the co-founder and director of Stranger & Sons. In an email interview, she maps the journey of crafted gin which has just embarked upon an exciting phase of spirits in India.

Ambrosia: Could you tell us about the spark that led to the creation of Stranger & Sons?

Saigal: It goes without saying that we individually are not just cocktail enthusiasts, but also had access to observe the beGinnings of the Gin Revolution first hand. I was working towards my MBA in Barcelona, while Vidur was studying in the UK and Rahul had just set up his craft brewery in Mumbai. While we were tasting and drinking a variety of gins every day – whether in London’s cocktail bars or the Gin Tonics of Barcelona, we were getting well acquainted with the gin landscape. That’s when it piqued our interest as to why India wasn’t up to speed with gin although gin manufacturers all over the world looked to India when it came to sourcing botanicals and we kept encountering brands based on a vision of India that we knew very well had never been a reality. This made us question why products with these botanicals are made everywhere but here. To add to this, there wasn’t any other quality homegrown product then that was conveying the story from our perspective; so we decided to change that and embarked into a lot of research before setting up Third Eye Distillery.

Ambrosia: Could you give us insights into the growth journey of Stranger & Sons?

Saigal: It’s honestly been a phenomenal experience so far! Right from the start, we wanted to build a truly Indian gin that would stand out on the shelves of top bars in the world but fit in just as well in the colourful and vibrant bars in Panjim. Made from inherently Indian botanicals, Stranger & Sons Gin captures the essence of contemporary India in every bottle for a curious and discerning consumer. What makes Stranger & Sons interesting is how we celebrate our diverse, unique and complicated history while recognising India in its current context instead of the stereotypical version with just palaces, elephants, and so on. Embracing this wonderful strangeness inherent in the contemporary India we live in today through our gin allows consumers to connect with the story and the brand in a very organic manner. Creating this emotional connection with our audience has always been at the core of our thought process and that’s where we believe that it’s not just what our gin is made of that matters, but what it represents.

Starting out as a home-grown gin brand from Goa to being declared one of the 8 best gins in the world by the International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2020, to winning the highest honours at The Asian Spirit Masters 2021, we’ve managed to put Indian gin on the world map and continue to work towards showcasing India’s diversity to the rest of the world! We’ve had an action-packed and eventful journey so far and the terrific response we get from our consumers at our international and domestic events is backed by an exciting, entrepreneurial team, all of whom feel very strongly about the brand. With regard to sales, we sold 25,000 nine litre cases in our first full year of operations, which was extremely exciting for us and was mainly attributed to being available in just two Indian cities and one international market. This year, despite the pandemic, we will be focussing on domestic and international expansion.

Ambrosia: How much has the pandemic hit production?

Saigal: Being absolutely aware that it has been an extremely tough phase for the hospitality industry and brands including ours, thanks to our team’s sheer creativity and persistence, we never lost sight of our consumers, favourite bars and bartenders. During the pandemic, we launched ‘Strange Times’ bottled cocktails in Singapore as an initiative to support the trade, made in collaboration with some of the best bars there to help keep the spirits up amidst the pandemic. We also got selected as the first Indian brand for the Craft Gin Club and shipped bottles to over 70,000 homes across the UK. During the lockdown, we launched India’s first distilled cocktail with local, seasonal pink guavas – Perry Road Peru, in collaboration with The Bombay Canteen, a high-end Indian restaurant which was a massive success in the market! Regardless of the digital shift, we continue to prioritise innovation, crafting immersive experiences and strengthening our relationships with consumers and trade alike.

Ambrosia: Which markets are you present in and what are your expansion plans?

Saigal: We launched Stranger & Sons from the shores of Goa and expanded to Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka and Rajasthan within India and UK, Singapore, Thailand and the UAE, internationally. We will indeed be exploring various domestic markets including Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and more. In terms of international expansion, we look forward to increasing our global footprint through our upcoming launches in Australia, Mauritius and more, very soon. Each new market brings a unique, diverse consumer base which makes the experience, well, let’s just say thrilling!

Ambrosia: What are the challenges – regulatory and distribution network – faced in India?

Saigal: In the spirits world, India has always been known for the sheer volume of alcohol we produce over anything else. The distilleries here are mostly large-scale, daunting structures and it’s difficult to contract distill small quantities here which is often a great way for craft distillers to beGin their journey. Adding to the challenge, India follows a federal system of laws and when it comes to alcohol and so, the guidelines and regulations vary across states in India. Access to good quality equipment and adequate space also pose a challenge, particularly once companies start expanding.

Ambrosia: Tell us about the botanicals that make your gin unique?

Saigal: Indian botanicals and spices that are indispensable to every Indian household and form the backbone of India’s culinary heritage. Among India’s most fertile states, Goa was a natural choice for us for its lush expanse of spice farms. The mace, cassia bark, licorice, black pepper and nutmeg that perfume our gin are sourced from spice farms surrounding our distillery making Goa the beating heart of our narrative. Our unique citrus peel mix of Indian Bergamot, Nimbu (Indian Limes), Nagpur Oranges & Gondhoraj have also been put together to represent different parts of our country and each of these citrus’ are extremely integral to the region they represent and make their way into local cuisine, juices, pickles, jams, preserves and more. By making use of all the wonderful spices available to us, we built a three-dimensional Gin that is proudly Indian and true to its oriGin. Our signature serves include fresh, flavourful Gimlets & aromatic, layered Gibsons which are also homage to India’s pickling and cordialling culture.

Ambrosia: What next?

Saigal: Third Eye Distillery was never built as a one-product-company right from the get go. There doesn’t go a day when someone from the team isn’t trying to answer this same question and one up the other. There are so many things that we’re working on at the moment when it comes to innovation and new product releases, no thought goes untested and no idea wins without a fight! We are also constantly trying to do our bit to make our distillery more responsible and sustainable while exploring new extensions and experimenting with various ideas. The one thing we know for sure, whichever product we release next, it won’t just be another bottle on the shelf, but will truly be adding to the conversation and be integral to taking our cocktail culture to the next step.

‘Black Jewel’, Goa’s first Craft Gin

One common thread among all the craft gin makers is that they are kind of globe trotters and well-heeled. And these journeys make them richer (I am not talking financially here). Take for instance, Cedric Vaz, Director of Global Spirits and Foods and the creator of the arguably the first craft gin from Goa – the Black Jewel.

It was on one of his trips to Europe between 2010 and 2012 that he noticed that gin was becoming popular and blooming in some of the European markets. “I could see it coming to India very soon which motivated me to work on creating a brand of premium yet value for money, which will appease those customers who really have a craving for a good Gin and are ready to pay a reasonable price for it. After a lot of work, research and sleepless nights, we zeroed down on the concept and creation of our gin brand which we named ‘Black Jewel’. Our first batch was manufactured on December 18, 2018. Our gin was first amongst the gins produced in Goa as well as first amongst crafted Gins.”

Hand-picked Junipers

Black Jewel Gin is meticulously hand crafted from hand-picked juniper berries that are grown in the highlands of Italy. These berries along with other botanicals such as Cilantro, Wild Celery, Carum Carvi etc. are infused into the premium grain spirit through a double copper pot distillation. The result is a gin with distinct and remarkable zesty citrus flavour.

For gin to be called gin it needs the juniper as one of its ingredients that is what makes gin unique from vodka. From the perspective of a consumer, herbs other than juniper are a personal preference and palate-friendly. A manufacturer is compelled to compulsorily add Juniper to call it gin, but is free to add the herbs and flavours of their wish, making gin a diverse drink; and this allows the customers to be choosy about their taste and style of gin.

Superior quality of water in Goa

Mac Vaz of Global Spirits and Foods which manufactures Black Jewel Gin states that, besides friendly excise policy, Goa has the perfect water quality for spirit manufacture. “Coming under the Dharwad super group, largely dominated by the laterite rock as its soil which is highly porous and permeable, the quality of ground water is clean and sweet. This, with the heavy rains of nearly 330cm, makes Goa a region with good amount of potable water. We believe water of Goa has its own brand equity.”

On Black Jewel’s reasonable pricing, Sanath Bharne of Sales says, “While there is a general perception that premium pricing has a pull factor with certain Indian consumers, we resisted that suggestion from the trade and came up with an MRP of `675 for 750 ml as we were clear that we wanted Black Jewel to be within the reach of the consumers who are accustomed to regular molasses-based flavoured Gins.”

The New Indian Single Malt: Kamet

Kamet was envisioned by Ansh Khanna and Master Sommelier Ken Fredrickson, who believed India to be one of the greatest places in the world to produce whisky given the unique six row barley and ageing conditions. It is a JV between Peak Spirits and Piccadily Distillery.

Is India Good for single Malt?

‘We consider India to be one of the greatest places in the world to produce single malt whisky, given our unique six-row barley and ageing conditions.’ Ansh Khanna, co-founder of Peak Spirits that owns the two labels, says, “We had been working on the single malt much before Jin JiJi. Given the ageing requirements, the journey to launch is much longer.”

At the beginning of this year, Peak Spirits, run by Mumbai-based Ansh Khanna and Chicago-based sommelier Ken Frederickson, soft-launched their first product Jin Jiji in select cities in the US, Europe, and Canada. The ‘India Dry Gin’, which is distilled in Goa, and will soon be available in India as well — along with their first-ever whisky, Kamet. Named after a 20-thousander in the Garhwal Himalayas, among India’s highest mountains, work on the NAS whisky, says Khanna, began around 2016. “Ken and I believe that India’s unique conditions and six-row barley — we source ours from the foothills of the Himalayas — make it an exciting place to produce a single malt of great complexity,” adds Khanna.

Khanna and Frederickson have teamed up with Piccadily Distillery, in Karnal, Haryana, and set themselves a tough benchmark — The Macallan. Kamet is a duet, a unique collaboration between two Master Blenders – Surrinder Kumar and Nancy Fraley. Surrinder has previously served as the Master Blender for Amrut distilleries, founding and spearheading their single malt programme, and showing the world the potential for India to produce whisky of great complexity. Nancy has worked with numerous distilleries around the US. She has a deep connection with India, from her time studying Buddhism at Harvard. She serves as the Director of Education for the American Distilling Institute (ADI).

Using the local six-row barley, the whisky is distilled in copper pot stills and matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon American Oak, ex-wine French Oak and ex-Sherry casks. This gives the single malt a vinous touch, as most single malts use only ex-Bourbon casks for their standard expressions.

“Most whisky produced in India can’t be classified as whisky as per international standards since they are made from molasses (technically, rum) and not matured for an adequate period,” Khanna explains. “Our wide usage of ex-wine casks from France is a first-in-industry. We are proud to be one of the few making high-quality single malt whisky in the country.” “The wood used has always been crucial to The Macallan’s character, and I’ve been inspired a lot by them,” says Khanna. “Kamet is matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon American oak, ex-French oak and ex-sherry casks. The usage of wine and sherry casks gives Kamet a vinous complexity on the nose and a beautiful natural colour.”

The much-acclaimed Amrut Fusion is among the whiskies Kumar worked on while at the Bangalore-based distillery. The success of Amrut and Paul John has triggered a lot of interest among whisky entrepreneurs in India. “But making whisky is very different from producing, for instance, gin. Whisky makers abroad are finding it tough to sell regular single malt and are focusing on special releases.

Thanks to the wine, bourbon and sherry casks, Kamet has a fruity aroma profile with oaky spice forward notes, complemented with vanilla, caramel and subtle raisins with nutty and sweet dark chocolate on top notes. On the palate, it exhibits a melted concoction of fresh and dried fruit notes with subtle hints of oaky vanilla, spice and dark chocolate. Kamet has a long, warm complex nutty finish with a balanced dry and sherried sweetness. Khanna recommends the whisky be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a splash of water.

Kamet will be available in Goa, Europe and the US in early 2021 for a price of Rs. 2,699 for a special introductory price. This will be increased to Rs. 2,999 post May 2021. In Gurgaon the launch price will be Rs. 2999 with the company targeting a volume of 1000 cases a month.

Bacardi bullish about 2021 despite challenges of 2020

Its been a challenging year to say the least for the Alcobev Industry. But with the industry now seemingly heading in the right direction Anmol Gill, Head of Customer Marketing, Bacardi India spoke to Vincent Fernandes and Lopamudra Ganguly on the challenges of 2020, the prospects for 2021 and Bacardi’s Green initiative.

Anmol Gill

How have Bacardi brands performed in the second half of 2020?

With the festive season ushering in post the lockdown, Bacardi brands have been doing well. There’s renewed optimism as the overall industry is recovering and this has helped increase Bacardi brands’ share in the market. The growth for Bacardi brands has been different across different regions on basis of the occasions that they’re consumed and whether they’re in the High Proof or Low Proof categories.

And in this duration, consumers have become more informed on their knowledge of spirits and cocktails owing to their homemade experiments with cocktails. As on-trade opens up, this will lead to an informed appreciation for bartenders’ skills and greater innovations at bars.

What was your Marketing Strategy during the pandemic?

During the pandemic we kept the consumer at the heart of everything we did, we continued to create moments that matter across brands with their respective cultural passion points of dance, music, comedy and more. We had to remain more agile than ever as consumer behaviour was shifting rapidly and has in many ways changed permanently in this duration. Digital became the consumers’ mainstay as they were looking for avenues to create pre-Covid moments and occasions. Now, it is a part and parcel of the consumer experience, so going forward on-ground and digital experiences will coexist across experiences and campaigns.

As a leader of experiences, our main goal lies in co-curating these new occasions and formats, along with our consumers – understanding how we can meet them at their doorsteps instead of the other way around. Virtual mixology masterclasses, are a great example of the manner in which our brands like Dewar’s and Bombay Sapphire enabled to enjoy their favourite cocktails on a special occasion, when they couldn’t step out to the bar.

Virtual concerts, such as the #HappyAtHome concerts hosted by Bacardí, recreating ‘weekend gigs’ that consumers could enjoy along with their friends, is another creative format where we have adapted to serve what the consumer is craving while staying true to our brand purpose.

How was the response to these marketing initiatives?

All of these campaigns successfully brought alive the brands’ ethos and engaged with the consumers in the formats that they were seeking while also transcending geographical boundaries, enabling access to consumers across the nooks and corners of the country.

How do you see Bacardi faring in 2021?

As the world economy will recover gradually from the pandemic, so will the alcobev industry. With online channels opening up and on-trade beginning to flourish again, I am positive about our brands’ and the overall industry’s growth. The digitization of cultural experiences is here to stay given the successes this year and we will most likely see these coexist with the on-ground activities going forward.

What special initiatives has Bacardi planned this year?

At Bacardi, we identify and leverage consumer insights and needs in order to create any marketing initiative. We explore campaigns and activities where we have an organic fit, a right to play and ones that embody our brand spirit. Thus, with authenticity at the core, we will continue to create moments that matter through platforms, occasions as well as experiences; co-curating them along with our consumers, in formats they prefer.

What are Bacardi’s post-pandemic revival plans?

For us, as part of our BEST10 strategy, Bacardi, globally has been set with the task of making the next ten years the best ones for Bacardi, to become a company known to bring people together for exceptional drinking experiences. As part of this strategy, putting the consumer first and supporting our on-trade channels, especially at this time will be key elements. Our touch points to see this vision through will be authenticity, community and safety.

Authenticity will remain our pillar to build lasting consumer trust. As a family oriented company, we will continue to support communities and partners who’ve been impacted by the crisis. And as safety is crucial, we will continue to build creative but honest ways of ensuring safety.

Do you see the brand sales recovering from the Covid-19 setbacks in 2020?

Yes, I’m optimistic about the future. While distribution in on-trade is still on its path to recovery, we are positive that the new normal will take brand sales in a positive direction. The overall industry is expected to recover fully by the end of the year or early next year.

How do you see the Indian alcobev market recovering from the pandemic?

The growth signs are ushering in recovery in the industry. The channel that now requires innovative solutions to fully make a comeback and grow in the industry is the on-trade business. In this duration, e-commerce opened up for the alcobev industry and it would be interesting to see how it develops in the near future.

How are the Green Projects fairing, especially around packaging? The biodegradable bottles which does not leave behind harmful micro plastics. When is it scheduled to come to India?

In our over 158-year history, Bacardi has always been committed to respecting natural resources and acting responsibly, as well as inspiring consumers and peers to join us in these initiatives. In 2016, we committed to eliminate all single-use plastic straws in our cocktails globally. Now, we’re excited to pioneer the world’s most sustainable spirits bottle which is 100% biodegradable and make a giant leap forward in the fight against climate change and plastic pollution. It will be on shelf globally by 2023 and will replace 80 Million plastic bottles – 3,000 tons of plastic – currently produced by Bacardi across its portfolio of brands every year. Starting with Bacardí rum, the new packaging will be rolled out across the entire Bacardi supply chain and the company’s 200 brands and labels including Bombay Sapphire gin, Grey Goose vodka, Patrón tequila, Martini vermouth and Dewar’s Scotch whisky. We’re looking forward to share this exciting new biopolymer technology with the entire spirits industry.

This revolutionary move is in collaboration with Danimer Scientific, a leading developer and manufacturer of biodegradable products. Petroleum-based plastics used by Bacardi today will be replaced by Danimer Scientific’s Nodax PHA, a biopolymer which derives from the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy. While a regular plastic bottle takes over 400 years to decompose, the new spirits bottle made from Nodax PHA will biodegrade in a wide range of environments, including compost, soil, freshwater and sea water, and after 18 months disappear without leaving behind harmful microplastics.

‘I believe our business is ready to shift gears’ – Varun Jain, CEO, NV Group

With premiumisation being the mantra for many alcobev manufacturers, NV Distilleries not only looking at pushing its domestic market but also making tremendous efforts in the export market as well. Varun Jain, CEO, NV Group feels that the company is now ready to shift its gears as he speaks to Bhavya Desai on its roadmap.

Given the current scenario of the industry, how is NV looking at its roadmap for the current year?

In my opinion all companies have had to face losses in their business as the market was either completely or partially closed. For example, Mumbai allowed only door delivery from the retail outlet before opening the markets. Number of State Government announced lockdown on weekends as well which also adversely affected liquor sales. The liquor industry registered more than 50% drop in its volume during March and April due to the pandemic. 

However, most of the market have substantially recovered their volumes now, except states like Goa and Daman due to the reduced influx of tourists. NV is bridging the gap by putting in place a robust production blueprint which will ensure immediate supply to those states where stock is being currently imported from neighbouring states. 

We are also strengthening the distribution base at all levels and focusing on Retail and Modern trade outlets. We at NV have also talented marketing professionals to take care of the consumer off take from retail and on-premise outlets.

What plans did the company put in place to mitigate any challenges that came from the pandemic?

There are challenges at all levels during the ongoing pandemic. We had to work from home,

keep everything sanitized (People/Place/documents/ Vehicles/Plant and Machinery, etc.) and yet produce the best possible results. The greatest challenges were faced by our work force in the field and manufacturing units.

Every individual is provided with masks/gloves and sanitizers and pedal operated sanitizers are placed in all offices and plants. The norms of maintaining social – distancing are strictly followed by each and everyone and we are in constant touch with all operation managers through Zoom calls only.

What aspects do you attribute to Smoke Vodka’s success?

Smoke Vodka has been well received by the market and also surpassed our expectations. The reason for this is its top of the line packaging and pricing. The price of the Vodka, its 5 times distillation, aniseed flavor (which no other brand offers and a support of three brand extensions, smoke clothing lines / smoke natural spring water in can & smoke sanitizer) have ensured its reach and visibility in a very short span of time.

The innovative digital marketing campaign and promoter led consumer promotions have substantially increased awareness and trials through miniature packs of Smoke Vodka. It is also being used as a gift article because of its international look and feel.

What is the next stage of your marketing strategy for Smoke Vodka pan India?

NV would be aggressively promoting SMOKE VODKA by adopting very innovative marketing strategies. Some of these include:

1. Broad – based consumer trials,

2. Fully exploiting the digital platform,

3. Use of Surrogates (Smoke water / Smoke Clothing line),

4. Making SMOKE visible in all relevant On and Off trade outlets, and

5. Targeting the influencers NV

These are some of the things that we are planning

Do you plan to have any other variants like Gin or Rum under the same brand name Smoke?

Smoke Vodka will be the only spirit brand. But I have created a few brand extensions like Smoke Wear, Smoke Water, Smoke Sanitizers.

How important is it for the NV Group to succeed in the premium product category?

I have always wondered if there are only a handful premium products from India. India has the resources, technology and expertise to create world-class premium products. Even we bottle for few international brands and very early on when I joined NV group, I was sure that I wanted to have our own homegrown portfolio of premium brands. 

Smoke Lab is the first premium brand and we are launching in the USA and other international markets now. There are plans for few more premium brands in the pipeline that will be launched next year. It is important for NV Group and I, personally, to succeed in the premium category. I believe our business is ready to shift gears and capture the premium category. This will establish NV Group as a real global player in the international spirits business.

How is the export market of your products for you?

We are putting tremendous focus on the export market. We have been exporting few brands to the UAE and Africa. Smoke Vodka plans were delayed by a few weeks due to the pandemic but we quickly adapted and stayed the course. By October, Smoke Vodka will be available in USA and few other countries as well.

What are the company’s ambitions to boost its status in the alcobev industry?

NV has the potential of being one of the leading manufacturers and marketer in the industry. There is no other company whose Product – portfolio can be compared with that of NV. We offer Whisky, Rum , Gin ,Brandy , Duet and Vodka at different price points to cater to every segment of the society. 

We can proudly claim that our entire product portfolio sells uniformly and well across states, giving run for their money to the existing giants. NV would be opening in all major markets of India soon led by Smoke Vodka.

How has the company fared this year and what have been the highlights of these results?

NV Group has successfully established markets like Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and UP in the last one year. The company has also introduced its topmen brands like Smoke Vodka, Royal Envy Whisky in the western region. This brand is showing huge consumer pull thanks to our innovative marketing and distribution campaign. 

The highlights of this year are as under:

1. Successful launch of Smoke Vodka.

2. Revamping of packaging of brands like, Royal Envy Premium whisky & Blue Moon Vodka.

3. Introduction of Smoke Water in 500 ml Can.

4. Aggressive digital campaign on Smoke Vodka and its surrogate.

5. Restructuring of the operating team in Sales and Marketing.

Crafters Taphouse tap International Brewer Allison Higi’s expertise

Crafters Taphouse tap International Brewer Allison Higi’s expertise Craft beers are growing in popularity and Crafters Taphouse plans to start a Crafters Movement. Crafter’s the only taphouse located in Hiranandani, Powai launched in the year 2018. Crafters Taphouse showcases excellence in craft beers, food and more. ‘Crafters‘ is derived from the word ‘Craft’ and thereby the brand positioning of handcrafted, artisanal and #ItsAllInTheHands. We have envisioned to delight our customers with finest hand-crafted beers by beer craftsmen from around the world. With Craft beer becoming the latest trend in the Indian drinking scenes, Crafters is a concept with the objective of producing world class craft beers, while enhancing the customer’s experience of the same.

Allison Higi’s visit to the APMC Market

At present there are more than 60 beer brands available in the India alcohol beverage market. The majority of beer market growth is driven by young consumers and the consumers who consider beer a trendy drink, as compared with other traditional spirits. The growth rate for the beer industry is an indication of the huge potential of opportunities open for breweries and beer brands marketing and/or manufacturers in India.
Craft Beers have undoubtedly made the consumer more experimental with brewpub culture growing in cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. The India Beer Market Outlook 2023 report states that the Indian beer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 6% during 2018-2023.
Crafters Taphouse had introduced Crafters movement whilst using an ingredient local to the brewer’s homeland or India; wherein brewers from different parts of the world were invited to come to brew their signature styles in India. With this programme, we are looking to invite a brewer with reasonable experience brewing craft beers and having their special signature styles that we can market in India. The science of Craft Beers Allison Higi, a freelance biochemist who uses scientific techniques to encourage craft breweries around the world to make high quality, unique brews, is in India to produce a beer influence by India and one by Indiana, her home town. Tell us about your association with Crafters and Crafters Movement?
When I was working and living in Ho Chi Minh City, I had heard about the Craft Beer explosion happening in India. Crafters and I have a mutual friend who recommended me for this International Women’s Day Collaboration project with Crafters. When they reached out, I was just finishing up some work in Central America and jumped at the chance to come make some beers in Mumbai! How long have you been in the brewing industry and how did you explore brewing as a profession?
I started working in a brewery in 2007 as a server. I wasn’t much of a beer drinker before this and didn’t know how beer was made or anything about the different styles of beer but being a server gave me the chance to learn. It wasn’t until 2010 that I began working in the brewery, making beer. I have two degrees in Biology and Chemistry and had intended to work in the medical field. I spent over a year working in a hospital after graduation and found it to be a very sad place. That’s when I made the switch to working in the brewery. It is a very happy place to work and I like that about brewing.
What is your favourite style for brewing beers? Please name your special beers?
My favourite style of beer to drink and to brew are pilsners. I like warmer climates and so I enjoy the lighter beers in the hotter weather. When made correctly, they are crisp, clean and refreshing. From a process standpoint they are a bit more difficult to make than ales. They require 2-3 times longer to make and because there aren’t a lot of specialty dark malts or lots of hops, process is key when brewing a pilsner. Any errors will be readily noticeable. I enjoy the challenge and the delicate nature of pilsners. Tell us more about the special beers that you will be brewing for Crafters?
Prashant and I have teamed up to make two beers for Mumbai. We are making one with an influence of my home state of Indiana in the USA and one with an Indian influence. For the American inspired beer we are doing a cantaloupe IPA, as IPAs are easily the most popular beer style in the states and cantaloupes are a nice summer fruit in Indiana. For the India inspired beer, we have chosen to make a dried fig porter. We sourced the figs from the local fruit and spice markets and that was a super cool experience for me. What has been your experience while working with fruits for crafting your beers?
I have worked with fruits before but what has been fun and interesting about working with these ingredients in India is the market! We don’t typically see markets like those here in America and it was really neat to get to talk with the vendors and to try the figs and cantaloupes before we decided to buy them. When I have used fruits before in beers, I have used raw fruits as well as purees. I am really excited for both beers we are making here. I think they will be great. What kind of target audience do you have in mind while crafting your brews?
Its not about what kind of beers I like to make, its about what kind of beers people want to drink! That’s why I like meeting the people who drink my beers and getting to know what they like and want to drink. I’ll make anything and I find it interesting that people like such a variety of beers. And I value everyones opinions from experienced drinkers to people who are new to beers. You don’t have to be super knowledgable about beers to have an opinion of whether or not you’d like a second beer. What are the challenges faced by you while brewing a beer? What are the techniques used for brewing?
Because so much of the work I’ve done has been outside the USA, sourcing ingredients and equipment in parts of the world where I don’t fluently speak the language is definitely challenging. Brewing is very technical and it can be difficult to do with a language barrier. However at this point, I have learned how to find what I need to get the job done and I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past. I can better identify possible barriers to getting what I need. I can expect it might take longer or the laws will be different. Brewing awesome beer requires intention and when you can identify potential issues early on, it will lead to a better brew and a better beer! What is the advice you would like to give to all the brewers in India?
Never stop learning! From your own mistakes as well as from others mistakes, keep an open mind. A wise person knows there are things they do not know. I am always trying to see how other brewers have overcome technical issues or what processes they use to reach certain outcomes in beer. Brewing is very collaborative and I enjoy that aspect of it. How difficult is to be known as a female brewer in the society and the experience so far?
When I first started brewing in the USA, I thought nothing of being a woman or beer being a “man’s job.” I have had some negative experiences throughout my career and at first I didn’t handle them well. But over the years, I have learned when to speak up and when to just brush off these things. It hasn’t always been easy but the rewarding part is watching people drink your beers and be happy! I look at it as an energy transfer. I use my energy to make the beers and people gain energy from drinking them. I try to keep that energy positive. It’s exciting to see so many female brewers enter the brewery. And that is how we make a positive change, we show up and we brew the beers.

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.