Tag Archives: Alcobev products

Angus Dundee Recovers post Pandemic

While the past 2 years have been a challenge for many alcobev companies, Angus Dundee has survived the storm and is sailing smoothly thanks to its strong lineage and expertise. They celebrate theor 10th Anniversary in India, which is a 200 million case market. Trilok Desai speaks to Brian J Megson, Director, Angus Dundee Distillers Plc. in Scotland about its global operations and more. Excerpts:

Covid-19 pandemic and in-home consumption have encouraged premiumisation in the alcobev sector and companies are moving in to cash on it. India is one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverages market globally, the scotch segment here continues to be highly aspirational for whisky consumers, that’s why the Scotch whisky imports to India have exceptionally grown in the past decade. However, it merely constitutes a 2% share of the approx. 200 million case Indian whisky industry. This is primarily because of 150% import duty makes Scotch whisky expensive to buy.

With over 19 million new consumers coming of “legal drinking age” each year, India is definitely a prospective market for Scotch whisky in wake of the relaxation in import duty, which will not only make Scotch whisky more affordable to the Indian consumer while being perceived as premium, but also supports domestic producers in reducing their cost of production.

It’s been 10 years since Angus Dundee India started its operations in the Indian market, with a strong lineage and expertise to deliver consistent quality product. ADIPL has created a niche and made its presence felt over the years by not only offering Bulk Scotch, but specific customised solutions. This has been instrumental in sustaining and stabilising Angus Dundee’s position in the highly competitive Bulk Scotch Whisky market, says Brian.

Bulk Scotch sector is a very volatile and highly price sensitive in India he adds. As a result, Angus Dundee faces a lot of turbulence every now and then. But at the same time, the quality and consistency that the company offers their clients can’t be compromised by the fluctuations in prices.

Angus Dundee currently produces and exports ‘Tomintoul’ Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky and ‘Glencadam’ Highland Single Malt Scotch whisky as their key brands along with ‘The Dundee’ and ‘Parkers’ Blended Scotch Whisky, says Brian.

Angus Dundee has seen a decade of steady growth and the company has now established itself in the bulk spirits space with aspirations to grow in the retail space now.

“Their bulk business is doing well following some logistical challenges caused largely by the pandemic. MacRoys whisky is on a soft roll out and we have three versions now including a peaty and a sherry version. The management is happy with our progress and the market for Scotch is very strong. You are likely to see more of our single malts and other ranges of Blended Scotch hit the market in the near future,” adds Brian.

He feels that Angus Dundee India’s strong suit comes in with the capability of supplying Scotch whisky in bulk for bottling locally along with offering a wide range of bulk options for their customers comprising Vatted Malt Spirit, Blended Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky and Blended Grain Scotch Whisky.

In addition to this their varied experienced and consistent liquid quality that provides the finest Scotch whisky, distilled, blended and bottled in Scotland is of particular importance to customers who are creating their own brand. The customers’ can create their own brand and label them which in many cases include value-for-money to exclusive premium brands.

Angus Dundee India has also introduced Bottled in India Blended Scotch Whisky in select markets under the Brand Name ‘MacRoys” at three different price points out of which two are new to segment, namely ‘Extra Peat’ and ‘Sherry Finish’.

Focussing on new to segment offerings like Extra Peat and Sherry finish in the Bottled in India Blended Scotch Whisky category and maintaining consistent best quality liquid, Angus Dundee is hopeful of creating their own niche in the Indian market. And as for the Bottled in Scotland portfolio, it is gradually increasing its width of distribution by entering select markets regardless of competition as their products are in standalone segments.

Talking about the Duty Free business, Brian says that it hasn’t been their top agenda in the past. However as they are investing more in the single malt brands, it is an area that they are looking closely with plans to to grow more into the key travel retail outlets around the world.

Excise takes a hit in Delhi; Political battle between AAP and BJP

• Delhi government discontinues Excise Policy 2021-22 from August 1, 2022

• 468 private liquor shops operating in the city, shut from August 1 as licenses expire on July 31

•  Mad rush at liquor vends as supply chain affected

It is a massive political battle out in the National capital between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the casualty has been the liquor industry. While the battle rages on, there is short supply of liquor and with private vends closing down, there is mad rush for liquor of whatever that is left.

As such Delhi was experiencing short supply of liquor for some months now, but the government did not really pull up its socks.

While the situation was such, came another shocker for the AAP government when its Chief Secretary on July 8 reported that there has been ‘deliberate and gross procedural lapses to provide post tender undue benefits to liquor licensees for the year 2021-22’. The Chief Secretary’s report also pointed out to prima facie violations of GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules 1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009 and Delhi Excise Rules – 2010. 

Based on the Chief Secretary’s letter and the corruption murmur in the capital, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor,
Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 

Alcobev industry at its wits end

The alcobev industry which had hailed the Delhi Government’s new Excise Policy 2021-22 is at its wits end with the political battle going on. Many industry experts had hailed the policy but had complained that implementation was the stumbling block.

AAP blames BJP for the crisis

However, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia in a press conference has put all the blame on the BJP for the excise crisis, stating that private vendors were threatened by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, forcing them to shut shop. The BJP, on the other hand, has alleged that the Delhi Government had doled out licenses to private vendors on a quid-pro-quo basis, charging AAP of large scale corruption. The two parties are leveling charges against each other while the alcobev sector and the end-consumer has to bear it all.

Government vends would be revived: Sisodia

Manish Sisodia said that the government vends would be back from August 1 as private vends were ‘scared’ to venture into this business. The number of government vends, would not exceed 850. Stating that there was an orchestrated campaign by the BJP to fail the new excise policy, he said only 468 shops were running and that number would further reduce drastically from August 1. “Their (BJP) plan is to stop legal sale of liquor and promote illegal sale of liquor in which the BJP has stake of thousands of crores of rupees,” he said and referred to the Gujarat model where there is prohibition, but illegal liquor trade is strong, leading to illicit liquor, consequently to hooch tragedies.

Citing that the AAP government had planned it’s vends to cater to the population without exceeding the number of vends from 850, he cited how in BJP-ruled States the number of vends was higher, thus encouraging liquor trade, both legal and illegal. There was one outlet for over 4,000 people in Gurugram; one for over 12,000 people in Bangalore; one for over 700 people in Goa, while in Delhi it was one outlet for over 22,000 people.

Another reason for the BJP to derail the Delhi policy, he said was as the former feared that the state revenue would jump from `6000 crore to `9,500 crore which would mean the success of the new policy.

BJP holds Sisodia responsible

Meanwhile, the BJP has upped its ante charging the AAP led government of corruption to which the Delhi Chief Minister has termed it as ‘false and that the BJP was afraid of AAP’s growth’. The BJP said the Excise Department, which is headed by Sisodia, reportedly gave a waiver of `144.36 crore to the licensees on the tendered license fee citing pandemic as an excuse. 

Policy was to give enriching customer experience, now going back to government vends

The 2021 policy was to pave the way for a range of sweeping reforms to boost excise revenue, crack down on the liquor mafia and to improve customer experience. The Government wanted to provide a ‘decent standard of customer experience commensurate to the stature of the National Capital’ and one of the most noticeable changes was abolishing the iron grills in front of the shops. The policy amendment also allowed for online sales in sync with the ‘new normal’.  There is no mention of what would happen to online sales, considering that the supply chain itself is adversely affected.

Framework for grant of licenses

The process of granting of the license was to ensure equitable coverage so that there is no instance of un-served and underserved areas in Delhi including Non-Conforming Areas. The number of retail liquor vends had been limited to 849, including five super premium retail vends, but absolutely no Government owned liquor vends for IMFL/FL.

The policy had ended on May 31 but extended by two months offering the retail licensees chance to renew their licenses paying fees on the pro rata basis for the extra period. However, many license holders did not opt for the extension and shut shops as they were already finding it difficult to reach break even after paying high license fees, some liquor traders have claimed.

Then there was the issue of some retailers giving massive discounts up to 40% to consumers while some big players offered ‘buy one, get one free’ schemes. The government intervened and capped the discount at 25%, but some retail shops went beyond that, some in the trade have complained.

Excise policy extant vs Delhi Master Plan rules

Under the excise policy extant, each licensee had to open three stores in each municipal ward. However, out of 272 municipal wards, 100 were non-conforming where the shops could not open due to action by civic bodies against violations of Delhi Master Plan rules, officials said thus leading to inadequate liquor stores.

CIABC hopes the policy will be tweaked

As mentioned there were many good features in the policy but the government failed to implement. The Director General of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), Mr. Vinod Giri has said that the industry had taken up the matter with the Delhi Government to reduce the size of the zones as to make the trade viable. He said by doing that it would have reduced the financial stake of licensees, improved loss bearing capacity and prevented monopolies. He attributed the failure of the policy to bureaucratic apathy towards trade, while the policy per se was good, befitting a modern metropolis such as Delhi. He was hopeful that the policy would be tweaked, but right now the political din has taken over.

There have been many such niggling issues that the Delhi Government did not iron out, while it kept patting itself on its back that it had come up with a ‘great policy’ that eliminated corruption and sale of seconds liquor. But the reality on the ground has been different, where actions did not match the words the AAP government kept bandying about. The capital is going to be mired with this controversy for some time now. The alcobev sector awaits new directives, till then the end consumer will have to find ways to quench his or her thirst.

Diageo acquires Vivanda, owner of flavour matching technology behind ‘What’s Your Whisky’

Diageo recently announced it has acquired Vivanda, owner of the technology behind Diageo’s digital ‘What’s Your Whisky’ platform and the Journey of Flavour experience at Johnnie Walker Princes Street.

This acquisition will enable Diageo to expand FlavorPrint technology to other categories. And it will support the continued development of their advanced analytics and digital marketing capabilities, providing a deeper understanding of consumer taste preferences and helping to unlock further opportunities in innovation and personalised consumer experiences.

Powered by artificial intelligence, FlavorPrint technology, through a series of simple questions, analyses and maps consumers’ flavour preferences against a large proprietary sensory database of foods and aromas, to generate a digital representation of their unique ‘Flavor Print’. It then recommends brands and variants whose flavour profiles consumers are most likely to enjoy. The technology breaks down traditional barriers to category exploration, supporting broader consumer engagement through more personalised recommendations and helping to ensure Diageo brands stand out at every point along consumers’ paths to purchase.

Launched in 2019, ‘What’s Your Whisky’ has been rolled out across 21 markets and is available in 16 languages. It has been integrated into the physical stores and e-commerce platforms of a number of our key customers in Europe and North America, as well as across their direct-to-consumer channels such as malts.com to enable purchase recommendations.

The technology also underpins the immersive Journey of Flavour experience at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh, tailoring the drinks that visitors enjoy during their 90-minute tour to their palates. There are more than 800 flavour combinations available in their innovative dispense systems, meaning a consumer could visit every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice.

Vivanda’s team will join Diageo and its founders, CEO, Oli Fuchs, and CTO, Matt Corish, will provide ongoing consultancy services to continue building on the success of the FlavorPrint technology.

Cristina Diezhandino, Chief Marketing Officer at Diageo, commented, “We know consumers are looking for more personalised, interactive experiences and that they are increasingly engaging with our brands digitally as well as in person. We’re delighted to welcome Vivanda to Diageo and we are looking forward to working together to connect with consumers in more innovative ways that help shape the future of how we socialise in person and virtually.”

Oli Fuchs, Co-founder and CEO, Vivanda, said, “We are very excited to join Diageo. Vivanda set out to create innovative technology which connects consumers with products through sensory insight. We are proud of the excellent engagement we have received from consumers and are looking forward to connecting millions more people with their new favourite beverage and creating the digital standard for taste.”

No More Liquor allowed from Goa in Maharashtra?

Liable for Criminal Charges

As per reports Maharashtra’s Excise Department will now, not allow to carry even 1 alcoholic bottle from Goa into Maharashtra. The news comes on the instructions of Shambhuraj Desai, the State Excise Minister due to the increase in the transport of the illicit alcohol across the border of Goa and Maharashtra.

According to the Excise officials there has been an increase in the confiscated liquor at the borders entering Maharashtra at various checkpoints, with smugglers carrying high quantity of bottles.

The Excise Minister has not only asked the officials to be strict, but also also asked them to invoke the MCOCA against them, which allows the Police to liable criminal charges. While the primary target of these will be smugglers who transport alcohol in large quantities, how this affects the regular consumer remains to be seen. Since it is common for consumers to buy alcohol at cheaper prices from Goa to bring home in other States.

Price has always been the biggest motivator for consumers to carry bottles from Goa into other States since alcohol bottles range from a disparity in pricing as it moves towards the upwards range. Most bottles have a price disparity of nearly 35-40% or more in Maharashtra/other states as compared to Goa. Although the smuggling is seen more in IMFL brands and not imported brands, a regular consumer is often seen carrying imported brands as well.

Updates for Flights from Goa:

Currently there is no indication that consumers aren’t allowed to carry alcohol in flights from Goa. While the focus of these checkpoints is expected to be on road, there isn’t any information on the alcohol carried by air by consumers. The stipulated limit for carrying alcohol from Goa is 4-5 litres by air. Although carrying even 1 bottle isn’t permitted by law, consumers do carry their stipulated limit often when flying out of Goa.

Ambrosia will try and speak to the Excise Officials to get more updates on the same and will update the article periodically. So do check back to see if there have been any changes to that rule.

With December around the corner, Goa is expecting a high influx of visitors like every year and it is expected that these users will carry alcohol back to their home States. Incase you are traveling by road then do expect some stringent checking at the Goa-Maharashtra borders, while the scenario with flights continues to be the same with no challenges yet for carrying alcohol.

But in an interview with TOI, Ravindra Awale, Kolhapur’s Excise Superintendent stated that they are going to set up portable cabins along the unattended roads between Goa and Maharashtra to plug in the smaller roots. “Right now, we have proposed action under section 93 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act against repeat offenders. Applying MCOCA will help bring down the number of cases.”

Ironhill builds largest microbrewery in the world

Ironhill India in Bangalore is located in the IT hub near Marathahalli and is spread across a lavish 1.3 lac sq. ft. making it the largest microbrewery in the world. With installation art at every corner and an ambience to match, the new outlet will serve eight varieties of original craft beer. The space can accommodate more than 1800+ people at a time and makes a perfect venue for events, exhibitions and a night out as well that can be taken up with social distancing. Since the Bangalore launch the brand has established footprints with a swanky new outlet in Nellore and Rajahmundry as well. Teja Chekuri, Managing Partner, Ironhill India gives more details.

How did Ironhill India begin its journey?

Ironhill, the wonderland of breweries started its journey in 2017 at Vizag. We wanted to be the place for people from all walks of life to chill at, with our range of brews and hip ambiance. This was followed by Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Nellore, Rajahmundry and Bengaluru, with Ironhill Bengaluru being the largest microbrewery in the world. All Ironhill outlets have something unique about them that makes them stand out.

We are also, the biggest microbrewery chain in the country with a total of seven most happening microbreweries across Southern India and gearing up to other parts of the country.

Our aim from the beginning has been simple, to give our patrons a taste of the brewtiful life, with expansive spaces, galvanising ambiance, trippy music, bespoke food menu, and tasty brews to quench the thirst for magical experiences. We cater to everyone, from beer connoisseurs to newbies, regulars to one-offs, colleagues to friends, and we are just getting started!

How different are the challenges managing outlets in the US and those in India?

From a holistic perspective, it is about running all our outlets efficiently and professionally and, in that sense, there is not much of a difference. Where the difference does arise though, is in the culture, the rules and regulations, and the needs of our patron. However, we have learned and dealt with those differences with the aim of providing the best hospitality experience across the board.

Any reason for beginning your journey in the South of India?

Being from this part of the country, we saw the massive scope, the relatively uncrowded hospitality scene, and of course, the lack of awareness about, as well as presence of good microbreweries. So, we entered the microbrewery scene in the South with the sole aim of catering to the local demographic present here and introducing world-class craft beers and indeed a world-class hospitality experience to our patron. With the burgeoning demographic that sought magical experiences, it made complete sense for us to open our microbrewery in the south.

How different are your retail outlets from the competition?

We are all about the beer and food, however, that isn’t to say that our cocktails are far behind. We provide a holistic experience, with larger-than-life spaces, a majestic ambiance, music across genres, an extensive food menu that takes influences from local as well as world cuisine, you name it, and we have. We are all about crafting experiences that are as magical and as perfect as they come.

What is your game plan for India?

Now that we have a solid footing in the southern part of India, we are looking at aggressively expanding and establishing a pan India presence in the next three to five years.

What is the scope for expansion of your craft beer outlets?

We are in expansion mode, and you will hear about us soon from all parts of the country.

What was the impact of Covid on your business?

Undeniably, Covid put a spanner in the works and caused us losses. However, we have a very proactive team and that meant when normalcy was restored, we got back to business on a war footing. Having gone through the tough times relatively unscathed, we are now absolutely gung-ho about the future prospects, as of now business is brisk and we are hitting numbers that are even better than pre-pandemic times.

What kind of styles of beer do you offer at your outlets?

We believe in innovation and experimentation, and hence we launch new brews ever so often. There are staple brews of course like the Wheat Beers, Blonde Ales, Cider, etc, but we also have new beers every month based on the season, like the Mango Ale, Mango Saison, Kiwi Cider, Coco Brown Ale, to name a few.

What kind of food menu do you offer at your outlets?

We have a healthy mix of grub-inspired by local cuisine as well as world cuisine. We have ensured that we have an extensive menu, and we cater to the palates of people from varied backgrounds, so, it would be fair to say, that we have it all.

How important is location for your outlets?

Location is a prerequisite to running a successful business. Space, high footfalls, demographic, spending power, presence of competition, and many such factors are taken into account before deciding on the location of our outlets.

ABD India wins ‘Distiller of the Year’ at Icons of Whisky India 2022

Allied Blenders and Distillers (ABD), maker of iconic products like Officer’s Choice Whisky and Sterling Reserve, won the ‘Distiller of the Year’ high commendation at the Icons of Whisky India 2022.

Instituted by the London publication Whisky Magazine, Icons of Whisky celebrates the people, places and products that make exceptional contributions to the dynamic whisky ecosystem.

Speaking on the occasion, Shekhar Ramamurthy, Executive Deputy Chairman, ABD stated, “It is a great honour for ABD to be recognised by the industry. We have always kept the consumer central to our brands and have phenomenal success in Officer’s Choice, the 3rd largest whisky brand globally, and more recently, Sterling Reserve which is amongst the fastest growing worldwide.”

Have you been to these microbreweries in Bengaluru? If not, you should

In the late 1980s, when Ramada Pub off Church Street, next to the erstwhile popular Premier Bookshop, started vending ‘draught’ or ‘draft’ beer in mugs, it signalled the arrival of not just Bangalore’s but arguably India’s s first-ever pub, thanks to the ingenuity of Hari Khoday, who was known more for his XXX Rum then. A mug of beer cost only Rs. 2.75 paise with peanuts thrown in. It was a place where you could guzzle beer, not from a bottle, but in a mug, dispensed from a tap, connected to barrels of brewed beer got from the distillery. The concept of microbrewery came in much later. Ramada Pub was a tiny place where you jostled for space and guzzled beer with some loud music in the background.

Around the same time, The Pub, renamed later as NASA (guess one got spaced out just drinking beer then) got launched on Church Street and the music and the dim lighting gave fillip to beer drinkers to guzzle more. The Pub drew the upwardly mobile and then came Black Cadillac on Residency road which played rock music and also had regular gigs. I remember Vijay Mallya hosting some liquor-based events here for the media. These were happening places. Then there was Peco’s, Scottish Pub, Underground, Downtown and the like, all in and around Brigade Road, Residency Road, M.G. Road, becoming the city’s ‘beerholes’, if one may coin that term. And then from nowhere pubs started mushrooming across the hotspots of the city, earning Bangalore the moniker ‘Pub Capital of India’.

The city is a cauldron of cosmopolitan culture, with the tech crowd descending from all over the country and elsewhere too. The techies gave Bangalore a new edge and soon, pubs had to re-invent themselves, and voila there was the birth of microbreweries. The pubs of now are very distinct, trying to cater to the hip crowd, setting trends in not just the social drinking habit, but in cuisine, in music, in events and what-have-you. At one time, pub crawl was quite popular, now not so. With an estimated over 500 pubs in the city, these ‘beer-holes’ have to be up there to cater to the discerning and demanding beer connoisseurs and they are, mind it. From pubs to microbreweries, Bangalore or Bengaluru has indeed come a long way from the days of Ramada. Here are some of the new age breweries you can check out to get a taste of the beer world.

Geist Brewing Factory, the pioneer

Among the first to come up with a brewing factory has been Geist. It was in 2006, Geist was incorporated, thanks to Narayan and Paul and later Mohan, software guys who plunge to brew some of the finest beers Bangalore has known. Initially they made 300-400 batches of beer and then when the microbreweries in the city became ‘in’, Geist was right there. When The Biere Club opened in 2013 and later Byg Brewski, Geist became the catalyst. As the pubs grew, Geist set up its own brewery and supplies draft beer to Bootlegger, Hangover and Tipsy Bull, among many other restaurants and pubs.

The name ‘Geist’ comes from the German word ‘zeitgeist’, which is used to define “the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era”. The sentiment perfectly captures the evolution of Indian beer drinkers, and the resulting rise of the discerning Indian beer enthusiast and you bet, Bengalureans, by birth or otherwise, fall in that category.

To spread their love for beer, they set up their own Geist Brewing Factory – Restaurant and Beer Garden on Old Madras Road, serving their signature crafted beers – Geist Weiss Guy, Geist Kamacitra, Geist Rauch-a-Fella, Geist Marzen, Geist Golden Ale, Geist Witty Wit, Geist Stouter Space stout and Geist Uncle Dunkel. The ambience here is just about perfect to down a beer or two under the shade of a huge banyan tree.

The Geist Rauch-a-Fella is a smoked wheat beer, inspired by the famous smoke beers of Bamberg, while the Geist Stouter Space has delightful notes of chocolate and aromas of vanilla pods. Inspired by Luponic Distortion from Firestone Walker, the Geist Golden Ale series is designed to showcase different hop varieties. The best way to find out how all their beers taste is to go check it out, right?

The Biere Club, welcome to the club

When it opened in 2010, it started a new trend in the pub city – microbrewing and it caught on like raging fire. The Biere Club located, coincidentally on Vittal Mallya road (the man who built United Breweries, later Vijay Mallya gave Kingfisher global branding) got Bengalureans interested in microbrewing, vending beers including wheat, stout, lager and Belgian style ale. They have even experimented with ‘ragi’, locally grown millet, but one must try out the combination of strawberry & vanilla, lemon & chilli and bayleaf. The Moscow Mule created with ale and ginger ale is a drink that finds favour during summers. The Biere Club has another branch in the IT belt, called The Biere Street.

Byg Brewski, Asia’s largest brewpub

This is supposedly Asia’s largest premium brewpub – Byg Brewski Brewing Company or simply Byg Brewski, which is located in Hennur, away from the central business district. It is massive, with a sprawling 65,000 square feet of space which can seat about 3,000 people at a time in five different experience zones. Truly, the experience makes people come back for more and not just for the home-made craft beers. The ambience is an experience in itself with lush greenery and a lake within and a waterfall to boot. The microbrewery serves some amazing beers including Byg Wit (a medium bodied beer, low in bitterness with fruity esters); Byg Hefeweizen, a Bavarian style wheat beer; Byg Triple, a Belgian style strong ale; New Zealand Pilsner; Byg IPA, West Coast style IPA brewed with American hops; Coffee Chocolate Stout, a dark rich decadent stout and many more for one to quench one’s thirst and to experience some of the best brews this side of the world.

Arbor Brewing Company, everything American about it

Decade-old Arbor Brewing Company or simply ABC is supposedly India’s first American craft brewery. This has origins in Arbor Brewing Company, founded by Matt Greff who pioneered American craft beer revolution at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having tasted American craft beer while studying at the University of Michigan, Gaurak Sikka headed straight to the ‘Pub Capital’ to launch ABC in 2012 and there has been no looking back. In 2018, Sikka took Arbor Brewing Company to Saligao in Goa and both places are rocking for their American craft beer and everything American. The wooden interiors give the place an authentic look, while what can one say about the beers ABC vends – Bangalore Bliss; Phat Abbot Tripel; Smooth Criminal; Rare Earth Lager; Michael Faricy Stout among others. ABC is the place to try highly innovative beer cocktails such as Wheat on Wheat (Ketel one vodka with mango juice, orgeat syrup and Bangalore Bliss); Chocolate Stout Old Fashioned (Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout, Johnnie Walker Red Label stirred together with chocolate and a hint of chilly; and summer refreshment in the form of 3 Spiced Mules (Pineapple and fresh ginger with Johnnie Walker Red Label served tall with Phat Abbot Tripel). ABC offers a full bar and there is a dance floor for one to dance through the night!

Toit, popular hangout

From night to Toit, it’s a beer walk. Toit in Indiranagar is an out and out brew pub, brewing a revolutionary culture, as they word it. With the promise of some bodacious brews, fabulous foods and a supreme brew pub experience, Toit has gone beyond that. In fact, the revolution has moved to Mumbai and Pune too. Toit claims all their beers are made only with natural ingredients; imported malts, the hippest of hops and the most eukaryotic of yeast, never using any enzymes, chemicals, colouring agents, artificial flavouring or preservatives, “because we want every sip to be nothing short of wholesome, heavenly, beer”. Using the unique and exotic flavours of local fruits, rice, wheat, and spices, this is Toit’s contribution to the world’s great craft beers such as Toit Nitro Stout (a very dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale); Toit TinTin (Belgian style fruity ale); Toit India Pale Ale (a bitter, highly hopped, English style ale); Toit Hefeweizen (a full bodied refreshing Bavarian); Toit Basmati Blonde (a light, crisp and refreshing ale, they call it a love child of India’s Basmati rice from which it gets its lightness, colour and floral aroma); and the city’s own Benga-Lager-U (a clean lager with complex maltiness and subtle spicy notes). Said to be one of the most popular brew haunts, it gives a high like no other.

Windmills, energising in a gentle way

Celebrating its decade-young journey in microbrewing is Windmills Craft Works in Whitefield. Known simply as Windmills, it is an upscale pub which has a jazz theatre where artistes from around the world have performed. On tap, they vend Hefeweizen, a Golden Ale, A Stout, 1-2 IPAs and New England IPA. For the tech crowd which makes up its clientele, Windmills offers a ‘boutique’ experience and the techies swear by it, not minding its ‘pricey’ menu. On the terrace, it serves North Indian fare, totally high end offering with a spectacular view of the sprawling tech city.

XOOX Brewmill, its Zooks, ok?

Coming to Koramangala which is peppered with some of the best restaurants and watering holes, there is XOOX Brewmill (don’t know how they came to pronounce it Zooks) which vends artisanal beers and cocktails. Spread across three floors, Zooks, is a live craft brewing space, converted from an old factory. The brewery offers eight styles of craft beers and signature cocktails like the XOOX G&T — a gin, martini bianco, Campari, red wine reduction with grape, apple juice, and tonic water, the C&C (Coffee & Conversation) — gin, black coffee, rose water, orange bitters, ginger ale and The Asian Wife, an interesting cocktail made with vodka, lemongrass syrup, lychee juice, lime juice and lemongrass haze.

BierGarten, so al-fresco

When in Koramangala, check out BierGarten, a sprawling 14,000 sq. ft and an airy, al-fresco seating across two floors. To go with this perfect setting, they’ve got about eight beer variants on tap with traditional German-style Hefeweizen, a dark Dunkel and Amber Lager being the most moving ones. They also have an outlet in Whitefield and a menu that boasts European-style cuisine.

Bier Library, for the ‘beerworm’

From BierGarten, we hop to the Bier Library, which has a beautiful open space and seating with the view of a koi pond located bang in the middle. There’s a cozy reading corner if you want your reading to transport you to another world, yes, of course, drinking the well-crafted beer and that includes a Red Ale, a Spicy Wheat Beer, and a Double IPA. They are also quite well known for their signatures that include Wittle Wit, Ale-O-Drama and Further Lager.

Druid Garden, you will like their potions

Moving to North Bangalore, which is just about seeing some fancy restaurants and pubs coming up, right perched on top is Druid Garden which has a built-in microbrewery that is run by a Chez Brew Master. Naturally, the ingredients are all sourced from Czech Republic and Germany and use recipes that have been tried and tested for years. Since they’ve opened, they’ve introduced 6 beers – Czech Pilsner, Bohemian Dunkel, Indian Pale Ale and a Basmati Lager among others.

District 6, zoned out

From one end of the city, we move to District 6, an upscale microbrewery that offers both fine dining and classic brews. With rustic and modern interiors and a blend of refined fresh German style brews, District 6 is a quaint brewery where you won’t have to shout out while in conversation with your drinking partner, the music just being right, not raucous. The microbrewery offers European, Indian and Chinese cuisine, but the beers are German-style. The brewery features open-air ducts and brewing equipment. True to its number 6, the brewery has a beer tank area; a brewery area; outdoor seating; front kitchen; public and private dining spaces.

Bengaluru is a trend setter and people from all over the world converge here for its cosmopolitan outlook and culture, unmindful of traffic. The city is peppered with so many watering holes, that one tends to forget the potholes, the chaotic traffic and work-related stress. Cheers to ‘namma Bengaluru’

Radico Khaitan goes from Local to Global

It has been a long successful journey for Radico Khaitan which first produced supplied extra neutral alcohol ENA to production of their 15 brands, to creating five millionaire brands, operating 28 bottling units, going the premiumisation route, and creating world class brands in the luxury brands category. Dr. Lalit Khaitan looks back in retrospect at the journey and is confident that his son Abhishek Khaitan, who has worked alongside him will take the company to greater heights.

What effort does it take to make a company like Radico Khaitan? Can you share some insights into that?

Establishing a business from scratch requires perseverance and a clear vision. Nothing can be achieved within a few years. When my father, Mr GN Khaitan, bought the loss-making Rampur Distillery in 1972, we produced extra neutral alcohol (ENA) and supplied bulk alcohol for several liquor companies. We started production of our brands in 1999, and now have over 15 brands including five millionaire brands, and operate 28 bottling units across the country. The mantra for success is quite simple: understanding of market or segment, the audience’s taste, and taking decisions to narrow down market gaps.

What are the three key turning points that you attribute to the success of making Radico the biggest IMFL company today?

First turning point was when turned from a bottler to creating our own brands with – The launch and success of 8 PM whisky is the turning point as we started the branded IMFL business with it. We sold a record one million cases of 8 PM in the first year of its inception, a record that is yet to be broken by any other brand in India; in fact, it made it to the ‘Limca Book of Records 2001’ for the achievement. We utilised the best marketing brains and tools to popularise the product; even the commercials for the product won many accolades at that time.

Second was when we started premiumisation – with the launch of Magic Moments Vodka in 2006, followed by six versions under the brand Magic Moments Remix within two years of its release also helped us gain a strong footing in the industry. The brand established itself as the industry’s undisputed leader and category driver by capturing more than half of the category’s market share. Our decision to enter the vodka business paid off as Magic Moments rose to become the world’s seventh-largest vodka brand. I would also like to talk about the decision to go premium in 2009 with the launch of Morpheus XO Brandy as the game-changer for us and a successful PAN India brand.

Third was when we entered into Luxury segment -Then the launch of Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin and Rampur Indian Single malt in 2018, not only mesmerised the Indian consumers, but brought a delightful experience to the connoisseurs’ world by endorsing Indian brands in the international markets. We have successfully built our brand equity in international markets and currently export products to over 85 countries.

Looking back do you feel that there are some things that you would’ve liked to do differently than today?

The way things have turned out for us, I would not change a single thing. The Branded story of Radico, which we started with in year 2006 is a perfect example of growth and scaling up.

A success of the company is directly attributed to its leaders. But how important is it to have the right team and processes in place to achieve that success?

If the team doesn’t resonate well with the vision and the mission set by the management, the whole idea of an efficient leader can fall apart. No success is assured without having employees who are focussed on accomplishing the unified business objective. In my view, anybody can copy machines, but it is manpower who makes all the difference in success and not so success.

What do you think Radico took such a long time to diversify into premium brands?

As I have always maintained, the decision to enhance the brand portfolio has to be taken after taking stock of the overall market dynamics. We entered the premium category in 2006 and that was the time when the liquor market was witnessing a shift from just social acceptance to the development of a society that enjoys drinks. The success of our premium brands attests to the right timing. Besides market leaders including Magic Moments Vodka with over 60% of the market share and Morpheus XO Brandy which has a market share of over 60% in the premium brandy segment- 1965 Rum has achieved a 10% market share in defence, Magic Moments Verve has achieved a 20% market share amongst all premium vodka brands and Rampur Indian Single Malt and Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin are a rage not only in India but world over. This testament is proof of our timings being right and the strategy being robust.

In the last two years, the company has been churning out some great products in the gin and whisky category like Jaisalmer and Rampur? Moving forward do we expect to see more products like those?

Product innovation is of the utmost importance for us. Our latest offerings including Royal Ranthambore Heritage Collection Whisky and Magic Moments Dazzle have been yielding encouraging responses. We are also working on scaling up the existing brands like Rampur Indian Single Malt, Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, 1965 Spirit Of Victory Rum, Morpheus Brandy, and 8 PM Premium Black Whisky. Going forward, you will see a host of products in the premium range from the House of Radico Khaitan.

With its premium products, Radico is focussing a lot on exports as well. But slowly these products are now available in India as well. What was the reason why this strategy was adopted? Was it to replicate the success that some of the other manufacturers have achieved using this route?

We had this strategy for two of our luxury products Rampur Indian Single Malt and Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin and it worked wonders for us. Both the products are a rage world over. The primary reason was that the single malt and the craft gin categories were already established abroad. In India, these categories are now emerging. Hence, we launched the product first in the international market before bringing them to the domestic market.

What was your vision for the company a decade back and how has it changed considering where Radico is today?

My vision is to work constantly to improve quality standards and enhance customer satisfaction. And it has always been that. Be it last decade or two decades ago. I do not feel that we have to change it as it ultimately gets converted into revenue growth and increased market share. The Customer is the King for us.

The dynamics of the industry and also the way it operates is constantly changing. What are your thoughts on those? Is there anything that you would like to see differently about the industry or any suggestions you would like to make that can improve things?

Right from advertising to marketing, liquor industry operates in a very challenging business environment. For instance, alcohol companies are not allowed to advertise directly so we have to strategise differently to make our brands more visible, rope in more brand ambassadors, and create creative campaigns with infotainment. Since the market is also growing, we have to be on our toes to offer the best products to our consumers and devise marketing strategies that will ensure that our products reach them.

One of the major challenges that has emerged in the recent past is around our surrogate brands. According to the existing rules, companies need to have a separate revenue model for the surrogate brands with a certain amount of turnover and this creates an additional challenge for us.

However, we find solutions to all of these obstacles within the purview of law because we are a responsible company. We have a legacy to maintain. Non-compliance with state regulations is not an option for us. Since we have over 75 years of experience in liquor manufacturing and 25 years in the IMFL business, the company knows about the law across states and knows how to adhere to it.

In Abhishek, you have a son that has led from the front along with a great team. How does that make you feel as a father?

As I worked hard to help improvise and enhance my father’s vision, I am seeing the same zeal in him. He was instrumental in taking the call towards launching our own brands and premiumisation drive which turned the fortunes around for the company. He is a new-age leader who people look up to and that makes me an extremely proud father.

How difficult is it to compete against multinationals as an Indian brand? Your thoughts?

Once a company has a sound understanding of the market, and back that knowledge with its quality products then competition doesn’t pinch much – be it from domestic or multinational brands. Within two decades of launching our brands, we have expanded our reach to over 85 countries, which is an indication of the capability of Indian brands. I would like to give an example of our latest products Rampur Indian Single Malt and Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin here; when we took the product to the international market, people were surprised by the fine quality leading to immediate acceptance. The idea behind giving this example was that once you have quality products according to the tastes of the people, competition becomes secondary.

Bira 91 ‘Imagined in India’ limited-release beers pleasing the desi palate with innovative flavours

The late English author Gilbert Chesterton once wrote: “Let a man walk 10 miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.” He’s right, of course — there’s something about the combination of the warmest season and an ice cold brew that just works. Summer in Delhi is unbearable and we do not have an opposition for this. And, how most of us beat the heat is by gulping down frosty and flavourful beers. Delhiites can now rejoice as India’s popular beer brand Bira91 brings you a range of four new limited-release beers – Bollywood IPA, Kokum Sour, Brown Ale, and Mango Lassi – as part of their ‘Imagined in India’ initiative. Team Ambrosia was part of the preview tasting, hosted on April 07 2022 at the beautiful QLA, in Mehrauli, Delhi. The tasting was followed by dinner, curated by Chef Vicky Ratnani, and a live music set by DJ MoCity and DJ Nida. It was what we call a perfect dreamy evening filled with all the finer things in life.

A melange of flavours

The ‘Imagined in India’ beers are made with indigenous products and are inspired by the raw creativity of today’s India led by emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and startups combined with the cradle of flavours that find a home here.

The Bollywood IPA variant has a tropical twist, inspired by west coast India Pale Ales that were born in California, while Kokum Sour has traditional ingredients from the Konkan coast. We loved the Brown Ale – a blend of English Nut Brown Ale and the Antwerpian Amber with notes of coconut and vanilla. Fans of lassi would appreciate the taste of their Mango Lassi version that merges its Wheat Ale and a milkshake beer into one.

Ankur Jain, founder and CEO of the company, said, “For this generation of consumers, beer means flavour, and we deliver on that promise. ‘Imagined in India’ is an attempt to bring together the many flavours of India and its creative energy fuelled by emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and startups. Each beer is brewed with unusual ingredients – local and seasonal – which makes them unique.”

He further added, “Each of these flavours originated at the Bira 91 Limited-release Taproom at Koramangala, Bengaluru, where they received tremendous consumer love and affinity. The flavours were voted as the top-ranked choices by beer lovers, which inspired us to bring them to consumers across the country.”

Earlier, back in 2021, Bira 91, in collaboration with non-alcoholic drinks brand Svami, had rolled out Cucumber flavoured Kölsch. The Bira 91 x Svami Cucumber Kölsch is brewed with pure German Pilsner malt, a fresh cucumber flavour and the delicate caress of the finest German noble hops, with an IBU of 18 and an ABV of 6%. It is a crafted blend of bitter-sweet notes and cool cucumbers creating a crisp, balanced, and revitalising beer.

Staying true to the brand’s playful image, Bira 91 encourages consumers to be more experimental and creative, while exploring new flavours in everything, including the beers that they drink. The new ‘Imagined in India’ range is yet another exciting testament to delivering on that promise.

Collaborations for community growth

To bring alive the flavours, Bira 91 has collaborated with Kulture Co, a curated platform spearheading the new wave of Indian Graphic Art across borders. The brand on-boarded contemporary Indian artists from the Kulture Lab – artists who are breaking the mould and taking modern India to new frontiers – to conceptualise and design the packaging of the four new flavours.

Channelising their art and creativity on a new canvas, artists Ranganath Krishnamani, Osheen Siva, M. Sajid and Prince Lunawara showcase a vibrant palette of local stories around shared identities painted onto these beer cans, paying homage, and narrating the story of our home country.

Commenting on the idea behind designing the packaging of Bollywood IPA, artist Ranganath Krishnamani said, “Conceptualising the packaging of a flavour so bold and dynamic, that it takes you to the heart of Mumbai, where all things Bollywood originated, was truly exhilarating. Incorporating the charming art deco cinemas in Colaba, the iconic ‘kaali-peeli’ cabs, and the vintage colour scheme was the perfect way to capture Bollywood on a can.”

Designer of the Kokum Sour packaging, Osheen Siva, too expressed his thoughts behind the masterpiece and said, “Kokum is a tangy flavour, as Indians have developed a taste for since childhood. To depict a taste so loved yet so new to the beer industry was exciting. I conceptualised it to be something offbeat and loud. For me, the can had to give consumers an idea of what they were picking up from the rack when indulging in a Bira 91 Kokum Sour Beer.”

“Imagined in India to me is being authentic, raw and connected to our roots. Capturing the taste of Brown Ale that recognises uplifts and celebrates diverse communities of India and having the essence reflect in the artwork on the packaging was a great experience,” M. Sajid, who designed the Brown Ale packaging, enthused.

Prince Lunawara, who creatively illustrated the Mango Lassi can said, “India loves mangoes and merging the flavour with beer is as creative as it can get. Through the can, my idea was to celebrate this creativity and the beauty of India’s flavours.”

The limited release beers will retail in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune.

According to Expert Market Research, the India beer market stood at a value of nearly 371 billion in 2020. The industry is expected to reach approximately 662 billion by 2026, rising at an estimated CAGR of 9.2% during 2022-27.

Oh Summer Beer

A summer beer can be just about any style, as long as it’s crisp and refreshing and makes you never want to go back inside again. They range from light and fruity to hoppy and complex, but the best summer beer is the one you come back to again and again as soon as the temperature crawls above 60 degrees.

The global beer market size reached US$ 640.2 billion in 2021. Looking forward, IMARC Group expects the market to reach US$ 750.3 billion by 2027, exhibiting at a CAGR of 2.7% during 2022-2027, according to a new report by IMARC Group.

Beer is a fermented alcoholic beverage that is made by brewing and fermenting starches derived from cereal grains. It is flavoured using hops that not only add a buttery flavour to the beverage, but also act as a natural preservative. Apart from this, other flavourings, such as herbs and fruits, are also added to attribute a specific flavour and fragrance to the drink. It is a rich source of niacin, folate, riboflavin, pyridoxine, potassium and magnesium.

Moderate consumption of beer is widely associated with numerous health benefits and aids in maintaining blood pressure levels, preventing kidney stone formations, and minimising the chances of developing cardiovascular disorders, including angina, stroke and heart attack. Owing to this, it is gaining widespread popularity across the globe.

Global Beer Market Trends:

One of the major factors influencing the global beer market is the rapid spread of the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and the consequent social distancing norms and lockdowns imposed in several countries as a control measure. The decrease in the number of social gatherings is projected to lead to a decline in the on-premise consumption and sales of beer in bars, restaurants, pubs and public events. However, this trend will to be offset by the demand for to-go packs as well as home delivery services, mainly through online platforms. Another factor driving the market is the widespread preference for specialty beer among individuals. These beers are brewed to a classic style by incorporating different flavours, such as honey, chocolate, ginger and sweet potatoes. This adds a distinct flavour and aroma, which further adds innovative and eccentric flavours to the drinks. The growing inclination toward craft beer is also accelerating the market growth. Since microbreweries produce portioned amounts of beer, they lay enhanced emphasis on the flavour, quality and brewing techniques as compared to large-scale commercialised breweries.

The potential for beer growth in India is strong as well. AB InBev, for example, began brewing Budweiser in the market back in 2010. In January 2021, Kirin Holdings announced an investment of $30 million in New Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the maker of the Indian craft beer Bira. IWSR anticipates beer consumption in India to return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2023, continuing on its growth path from there.

Expanding beyond beer

As consumers moved to the at-home occasion, the trend for convenience has helped to shape purchasing behaviours. In markets such as the US, the ready-to-drink (RTD) category, which includes hard seltzers, has been taking share from beer.
RTDs provide a growing opportunity for brewers to diversify their product portfolios. Indeed, Heineken entered the hard seltzer category in September 2020, with the launch of Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand. In the US, Heineken partnered with AriZona to launch the AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer in October 2020. AB InBev states that Bud Light Seltzer is their leading innovation in the US market, with over 75% of volume being incremental to their portfolio. In fact, 2021 was the first year in which a hard seltzer commercial (Bud Light Seltzer) aired during the Super Bowl.

Malt-based RTDs are currently dominant in the US owing to their taxation base, and brewers they are in prime position to take advantage. Elsewhere, the alcohol base of choice varies by country, driven by consumer preference and local alcohol tax structures.

Changes in purchasing behaviour propel e-commerce

As with the wider beverage alcohol industry, Covid-19 has propelled the value of the alcohol e-commerce channel. Heineken, for example, reported that Beerwulf, its direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, nearly doubled its revenues in 2020, while in the UK, its revenues tripled. Online sales of its home-draught systems grew as well.

Beer has traditionally under-traded online, primarily due to the channel offering lower margins. However, this will change as consumers continue to buy more groceries online and beer is included in the weekly shop. This is especially true in the US, where IWSR expects sales of online beer to grow rapidly as supermarket chains increasingly invest in the channel.
Online beer sales hold the greatest market share in countries including Japan, the UK and the US. From a lower base, online beer sales will also grow rapidly over the next five years in markets such as Israel and Nigeria.

The entrepreneurial spirit of small-batch players

Craft breweries, which tend to be more dependent on the on-premise, have propelled interest in the global beer category and revitalised its fortunes in many markets. IWSR believes that the entrepreneurial spirit of the sector will mean that craft brewery regeneration will be quick. In the US, for example, IWSR has seen the pandemic lead to a “buy local” approach amongst some consumers, which will benefit small-batch players.

Innovation in the no/low space reignites the category

No- and low-alcohol beer is a bright spot for the category, as moderation and wellness trends continue to resonate with consumers. IWSR data shows that, to date, most volume has come from no-alcohol rather than low-alcohol beer across 10 key markets.

Broadly, low-alcohol beer is giving way to no-alcohol offerings particularly in markets such as Australia, France and the UK. Spain, for example, is seeing a shift from low- to no-alcohol beers, as consumers seek healthier choices and view the newer 0.0% brands as more modern. In South Africa, investment from Heineken and the emergence of a craft segment has helped to generate interest in the no-alcohol category.

While no-alcohol beer has existed for decades, in markets like the US, no-alcohol beer has premiumised through the release of no-alcohol versions of non-lager styles, long the domain of no-alcohol beer. More recent no-alcohol styles, such as IPAs, stouts or porters, are starting to make a real impression, driven particularly by new challenger brands, many of which are not linked to traditional brewing. The recent no-alcohol extension of Guinness – despite some teething issues – will help to underline that no-alcohol beers are no longer the sole domain of lagers.

While several key beer players continue to steer the no/low beer category, the market is fragmented with a number of smaller brands vying to establish themselves as market leaders in this space. The segment is likely to become even more of a focus for smaller craft producers who are able to bring a diverse range of products to the market in future.