Tag Archives: Alcobev

The Indian Single Malt Whisky Landscape

Indian Whiskies are experiencing a new high. With a growing drinking population the Indian alcobev industry is likely to boom to a new high.

In recent years, a formidable challenger has emerged from an unexpected corner of the world – Indian single malts. With their unique character and exceptional quality, Indian single malts have proven that they are more than capable of matching their Scottish counterparts.

One of the key factors that differentiate Indian single malts from their Scottish counterparts is the influence of terroir. India’s tropical climate, with its soaring temperatures and high humidity, creates a whisky maturation process unlike any other. The angel’s share – the amount of whisky lost to evaporation – is significantly higher in India, resulting in an accelerated aging process and intensifying the flavours within a shorter timeframe. This unique maturation process infuses Indian single malts with bold, robust flavours that tantalise the taste buds.

Amrut’s recognition placed India on the global whisky map, but Mohan Meakin pioneered Indian single malt whisky back in 1858, long before Amrut.

While Indri Diwali Edition’s win is celebrated in India, the perception differs internationally. Even though India strives for quality whisky production, global recognition is a work in progress. 

 Unlike established producers like Japan, India’s whisky prominence is relatively recent – the industry is shifting from the traditional older consumer to younger audiences, by diversifying consumption methods through cocktails.

More distilleries venturing into malt whisky production – Amrut, Paul John, Rampur, and newcomers like Piccadily aim for global market penetration amid rising Scotch whisky imports.

Indian single malts proudly celebrate the country’s rich heritage while incorporating modern techniques and influences. Distilleries often draw inspiration from local ingredients, spices, and cultural traditions to create whiskies that are uniquely Indian. From the use of Indian barley to the incorporation of regional flavours like cardamom, cloves, and saffron, these whiskies encapsulate the essence of India, offering a sensory experience that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking.

The meteoric rise of Indian single malts has not gone unnoticed in the whisky world. They have garnered numerous awards and accolades, winning over skeptics and enthusiasts alike. The recognition from renowned whisky experts and critics has solidified the position of Indian single malts as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. As more people discover the quality and complexity of these whiskies, their popularity continues to soar.

The emergence of Indian single malts has undoubtedly shaken the foundations of the whisky industry, challenging the long-standing dominance of Scotch whisky. With their distinct character, unique maturation process, and unwavering commitment to quality, Indian single malts have proven that excellence in whisky knows no geographical boundaries. As whisky enthusiasts and collectors seek out new and exciting expressions, Indian single malts stand ready to captivate their palates and leave an indelible mark on the world of whisky.

Despite the hype about the magnitude of Indian whisky compared to Scotch, actual consumption statistics show no drastic increase. However, global recognition for quality Indian whiskies has notably risen.

The bulk of India’s whisky market comprises blended and daily drinking whiskies, not just the premium single malts like Amrut/Paul John – underscores the  dominance of everyday brands like Signature and McDowell’s. The knowledge and information of seasoned whisky enthusiasts have expanded significantly over the past five years, and they demand whiskies that are:  high-quality; limited editions; priced conveniently available in a broader market.

Newer or curious consumers are gradually transitioning from lower-end to mid-segment whiskies, amplifying affordability in the ₹1500-₹2000 range.

While single malts garner recognition and elevate the industry’s stature, the substantial demand driving the industry’s profit lies within these affordable mid-tier whiskies. 

Amrut’s pioneering strategy of launching single malts in the UK, rather than India, set a precedent for others like Paul John and Rampur. The idea was to create international demand that would pique curiosity domestically, a strategy that continues to shape the market.

The entry of big players like Diageo and Beam Suntory into India reflects the strategic shift to safeguard their market shares. Diageo’s move from importing Scotch to producing locally aims to counter the rising curiosity for Indian whiskies among consumers, particularly when price points are comparable.

Comparing Indian single malts with global counterparts – blind tastings often unveil the impressive quality of Indian whiskies.

Market acceptance remains a challenge due to the stronghold of brands like Johnny Walker and Chivas, deeply entrenched in the Indian consumer psyche.

Quality control emerges as a critical concern. Despite norms borrowed from the Scotch Whisky Association, the lack of a regulatory authority poses challenges. Looking ahead to 2024, manufacturers must grapple with the realities of production complexities and retaining skilled personnel. The absence of a consistent master blender/distiller in India points to the challenges of replicating Scotch whisky’s intricate craft.

Production transparency, along with quality control, demands attention, emphasising the need for a regulatory body to standardise practices. This prevents the replication of the Japanese whisky industry’s pitfalls, where lack of oversight led to a decline in repute.

International market alignment is crucial, but Indian single malt production capabilities are still dwarfed by Scotland. Expansion plans by major players like Amrut, Paul John, and Rampur indicate the industry’s growth trajectory.

The Future of Whisky Production  

Accelerated maturation in India for quicker whisky development:  The high Angel’s Share poses challenges due to significant evaporation losses. To counter this, distilleries are employing sophisticated warehouse management techniques to minimise losses and maximise output.       

Exploration of alternate sources for key ingredients: Distillers are seeking sustainable and efficient means to procure essential elements for whisky production and exploring new avenues beyond traditional sources.

While currently in its nascent stages in India, there’s a growing emphasis on data-driven processes and automation. Techniques like employing spectrometers to analyse whisky flavours and aromas are being explored to ensure consistency and quality.

Manufacturers are associating with clubs and creating limited editions for various festivals like Diwali or Christmas. Brands are diversifying their offerings, aiming to capture consumer interest with specialised releases tied to zodiac signs, festivals, or master distiller editions.

Expansion into different spirit categories: This may redefine the industry landscape and provide diverse options for consumers beyond traditional whisky offerings. The future might also see a more adventurous consumer base exploring a wide array of whisky variants.

VINEXPO Delhi 2023 – All set to Roll

Keep an eye out for European Wines with Sommelier Devati Mallick

The stage is all set for VINEXPO Delhi 2023 to get underway tomorrow. While there is much to look forward to for the visitors, with many foreign producers gracing the event, the European Union (EU), located at Booth F50 in Hall 1B is expected to have a strong showing as the Region of Honour. The fair will be held from 7th– 9th December, 2023.

European wines, beers and spirits are more than alcoholic beverages, thanks to exceptional raw materials, timeless craftsmanship and unwavering safety standards. Europe is the birthplace of the world’s wine industry, and traditions of winemaking are proudly passed from generation to generation; they have defined European rural landscapes for centuries. Nowadays, the EU accounts for 45% of world’s wine-growing areas, 65% of wine production, 57% of global wine consumption and 70% of exports, making it the world leader in each of these categories.

A tradition of quality and excellence

More than 1700 European wines have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) protections, serving as a guarantee of their authenticity and quality.  The consumers can enjoy these products in the knowledge that they have been produced to the highest quality and safety standard. Whatever your preference, you will find something to delight you among the wines of Europe. Red, white, rosé or sparkling wines from Europe can help make any occasion special.

European Union: The Region of Honour at SIAL and VINEXPO in New Delhi

What makes this year’s VINEXPO particularly noteworthy is the presence of over 50 company representatives, including 14representing wines and spirits sector, facilitating B2B matchmaking sessions on December 7 and 8. These sessions offer invaluable opportunities for Indian buyers, retailers, and distributors to connect with European businesses across various food and drink sectors

Moreover, the European Union’s VINEXPO booth will host a series of enlightening masterclasses on wines, beers and spirits. Each Masterclass, lasting 30 minutes, will feature a selection of beverages for tasting. Among these, the EU Masterclasses, led by renowned sommelier Devati Mallick, promises to be a highlight. As you sip and savour the wines, you’ll embark on a journey through Europe’s finest vineyards, guided by the expertise of a true connoisseur.

As we gear up for VINEXPO Delhi 2023, we invite you to join us in celebrating the union of tradition and innovation in European winemaking. Stay tuned for an unforgettable wine experience that promises to captivate your senses and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the world of wine.

Let’s raise our glasses to VINEXPO Delhi 2023, where European wines and spirit drinks will take center stage, and the EU’s commitment to vinicultural excellence, along with the expertise of Devati Mallick, will shine brighter than ever before.

The EU’s participation in SIAL and VINEXPO 2023 is part of its ‘More than Food’ campaign, actively promoting outstanding European agricultural products on a global stage. For the latest information and updates, visit the official ‘More than Food India‘ webpage.

For media inquiries, please contact: sial2023@agripromotion.eu

Taxation The Bugbear of Alcobev Industry

To infuse moderation India, EU, UK and the US have used taxation as a tool. But other reasons
also encourage moderation. A report.

The domestic alcohol beverages (alcobev) industry is expected to have revenue growth of 8-10% in 2023-24 but operating margins may contract by 90-140 basis points due to input cost pressure, a report by rating agency ICRA stated.

The alcobev industry witnessed a strong revival in the last fiscal in FY23 led by a healthy demand across both segments – spirits and beer, after two consecutive pandemic-hit years of FY21 and FY22 “During Q1 FY2024, the spirits industry reported a 13% YoY increase in revenues despite being the lean season for the segment, while the beer industry, despite being the peak season, “Moreover, the majority of the ongoing capacity addition is attributed towards beer manufacturing, which is expected to come up in the near to medium term with some players looking to expand to new states and deepen penetration in the existing regions.

“ICRA expects the industry to continue to demonstrate stable and healthy credit metrics supported by strong cash flow generation and limited debt addition,” it said. India is also poised to make strong spirits gains thanks to its booming economy; rising consumer incomes; market recovery and growth post-pandemic; and strong consumer confidence. However taxes play an important role in determining the prices of alcohol.

In spite of GST on alcohol not being levied, the prices of liquor continue to rise after the rollout of Goods and Services Tax. This is because the inputs used to manufacture liquor were taxed at 12-15% under the VAT regime before GST. However, after the introduction of GST, most of the input raw material now attract 18% GST resulting in increased input cost. This rise in taxes on the inputs is passed on to the end customers. The other reason for the sharp increase in the cost of liquor is the applicability of GST on transportation and freight charges. Previously, transportation and freight attracted a service tax of around 15%. However, post-GST, they are taxed at 18%. Hence, even with no major changes in the VAT rates charged on beer or liquor, the cost of beer and liquor increased due to the increase in input taxes.

Industry Analysis

The liquor industry isn’t much supportive of the government’s decision to charge no GST on alcohol. Exempting liquor from GST has led to a rise in the overall cost due to the increased taxes on the inputs. Further, as the output is a tax-exempt product for the manufacturers they need to pay input taxes on inputs and then claim the refund of ITC (input tax credit) accumulated. This is a long process, which leads to the lengthening of the working capital cycle. Most of the liquor manufacturers believe that there’s no point in excluding beer from the purview of GST as the alcohol content by volume is only 5%. Most of the industry insiders wish that beer is brought under the GST regime. This will have a remarkable impact on the flourishing tourism industry.

EU law requires every EU country to levy an excise duty on beer of at least €1.87 per 100 litres (26.4 gal) and degree of alcohol content. That amounts to a minimum tax of €0.03 ($0.03) for a 330ml (11.2 oz) beer bottle with 5% alcohol content.

After a decade of cuts and freezes to the alcohol duty in Britain, in August the level of duty will rise with inflation – an international best practice and World Health Organization recommendation.

With the new alcohol duty system alcohol tax rates will lower the cost of beer for pub-goers and will raise the cost of most other alcoholic beverages in supermarkets and other off-licenses.

In recent decades, alcohol had been getting ever cheaper, fuelling a public health crisis. In the UK, the alcohol duty is a type of tax paid by companies that produce alcohol. It is paid by the company who produces or imports the alcoholic drinks. The tax level relates to the strength and size of the product, rather than its sale price. The level of duty is decided each year in the Government Budget.

On August 1, 2023 the alcohol duty change has come into effect in the UK. It makes duty across different types of alcohol more consistent by taxing based on alcoholic strength by volume (ABV).

In the past the UK tax system has been complicated and inconsistent, with different rules for different alcoholic products. The new system is much closer to international standards in alcohol tax policy and contains elements of World Health Organization (WHO) best practices.

Evidence from across the world shows that alcohol harm falls when the population levels of alcohol consumption fall. When alcohol is less affordable, less is consumed, and so there are fewer deaths, injuries and illnesses caused by alcohol.

Alcohol harm disproportionately affects people on lower incomes and in greater deprivation, even though evidence shows these groups consume less alcohol than higher income groups.

The impact of alcohol on communities and health is also unequal across the UK. People living in the poorest areas of the country are more likely to experience illnesses due to alcohol, and a greater proportion of the population in deprived areas die due to alcohol.

Taxing alcohol by volume (ABV) targets strong alcoholic drinks, which are particularly harmful. Increasing the price of alcohol could be viewed as ‘regressive’ policy (if alcoholic products are more expensive this affects those with less money more). However, on average, people with less money tend to consume less alcohol than those with more disposable income. At the same time, the health costs and mortality from alcohol are higher among lower income communities and people.

A recent study showed thousands of deaths could be averted through lowering alcohol strength in beer, wine and spirits – something the new alcohol duty system is likely to facilitate.

Finland, the United Kingdom, and Ireland levy the highest excise duties on beer. Finland levies a tax of €0.63 ($0.66) per 330ml beer bottle, followed by the United Kingdom at €0.37 ($0.40) and Ireland at €0.37 ($0.39) per beer.

Bulgaria, Germany, Luxembourg, and Spain each levy approximately the EU’s minimum rate of €0.03 ($0.03) per beer bottle.

The EU’s wide range of tax rates spans the range of global tax rates on beer. Finland is a high tax outlier within the EU, but its tax rate is only slightly more than half of Israel’s tax rate on beer. Conversely, Germany has the lowest tax rate on beer of any country in the OECD. Tax rates across the EU are generally higher than rates in the U.S. The minimum EU beer tax of $0.03 per 11.2 oz bottle exceeds the tax rate of the median U.S. state (Virginia at $0.02 per 11.2 oz bottle).

All European countries covered also levy a value-added tax (VAT) on beer, which is charged on the sales value of a beer bottle.

Moderation increasingly driven by economic concerns

Previously driven mostly by health and wellness concerns, moderation in alcohol consumption is now increasingly being spurred by economic worries and a need to cut household spending. Consumers are choosing to cut down rather than down-trade in many markets.

Moderation – both as a lifestyle choice for health and wellness, as well as an economising strategy amidst rising inflation – is taking a number of forms, such as:

• Reducing the number of occasions during which alcohol is consumed, either by substituting with a non-alcoholic beverage, such as a soft drink, or by simply exiting the consumption occasion (such as skipping the mid-week after-work drinks).

• Reducing the number of alcoholic drinks on a given occasion, for example, by drinking less, or in some cases, by combining consumption of a full-strength alcoholic beverage with a no- or low-alcohol beverage during the same occasion.

About half of all adult drinkers of beverage alcohol surveyed as part of IWSR’s price sensitivity study across 17 focus markets in H2 2022, expressed interest in moderating their alcohol consumption. The trend is particularly strong in European markets where economic confidence is low, such as the UK and Germany.

The long-established trend of moderation as a health and wellness choice continues, especially amongst those on higher incomes in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and China. Germany remains the largest market for no- and low-alcohol products, however smaller markets, such as the US, Canada and Australia, will show more dynamic growth, with volume CAGRs 2022-2026 outpacing that of Germany.

For some consumer segments, such as millennials in select markets, previous interest in no- and low-alcohol products due to wellness concerns has now been combined with an economic imperative, amplifying the trend.

India’s alcobev market size of $52.4 billion targetted to touch astounding $64 billion by 2030

The International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWAI), the apex body of the premium alcobev sector, unveiled its report titled “Economic Value of the Indian Alcoholic Beverage Industry”, presenting it to Shri Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. This comprehensive report is a first-of-its-kind and takes an in-depth look at the vital elements and the significant roles played by the Indian alcobev sector.

The report offers valuable perspectives on the alcoholic beverage industry, highlighting its economic impact, patterns of consumption, and its positive effects on related industries like agriculture, tourism, and more.

Expressing her gratitude, Nita Kapoor, CEO, ISWAI, said, “I extend our heartfelt thanks to Shri Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, on behalf of ISWAI for allocating the time to receive this crucial report. This is a significant moment for ISWAI and the broader industry, affirming the sector’s substantial relevance to the nation. The alcobev Industry serves as a pivotal economic engine, making it imperative for pertinent stakeholders to recognise and value our sector’s economic contributions.”

Nita Kapoor further emphasised, “The alcohol industry holds a vital position within the national economy, presenting opportunities for growth, job creation, and revenue generation. As we look to the future, the importance of the alcohol industry in India is poised to expand. Therefore, it is crucial to simplify its operational complexities, enhance its Ease of Doing Business (EODB), and unlock its full potential for growth.”

Shri Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog, being presented a copy of the Report titled ‘Economic Value of the Indian Alcoholic Beverage Industry’ by Nita Kapoor, CEO, and Suresh Menon, Secretary-General of the International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) at his office in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

With an estimated market size of $52.4 billion in 2021, roughly 2% of the country’s nominal GDP, the Indian alcobev industry is significant and burgeoning (₹3.9 lakh crore, including country liquor).

Projections suggest the Indian alcoholic beverage industry could reach an astounding $64 billion over the next five years, ensuring India’s position as the fifth-largest contributor to global market revenues in the near to medium term.

In the fiscal year 2021, the industry contributed a significant ₹2.4 lakh crore in indirect taxes to the state governments, representing many income streams. Customs duty on alcoholic beverages alone accounted for ₹2,400 crore.

The alcohol revenues represent 1.2% of India’s nominal GDP, 7.7% of the total tax collection, and 11.7% of the nation’s indirect tax revenue. The sector contributes a significant 24.6% of the overall own tax revenues of the states.

Around 1,235 million litres of extra neutral alcohol (ENA) were used to produce Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages in 2021. It is estimated that to produce 741 million litres of extra neutral alcohol for IMFL, 1.9 million tonnes of grain are required. This amounts to 0.6% of India’s total grain production of 316 million tonnes in 2021-2022.

Approximately 724,611 farms and 36,23,057 farmers are involved in grain production for ENA. 2.9% of the persons employed in the agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishery sectors are engaged in the production of grain/sugarcane/grapes utilised for ENA for spirits and wine.

The scope of the alcohol industry in terms of employment is remarkable at a staggering 79 lakh individuals, both directly and indirectly. This accounts for 1.5% of the total manpower employed in the country.

About 14-19% of the overall revenues of the organised F&B industry are dependent on the ₹28,000 crore sales of alcoholic beverages.

An enabling policy environment for the alcoholic beverage industry can thus drive investments, jobs, and exports. India-manufactured alcoholic beverages have large untapped export potential and should be treated like any other industry.

On the occasion, Suresh Menon, Secretary-General, ISWAI, remarked, “Beyond its substantial tax contributions, the industry plays a vital role in supporting farmers’ livelihoods. It is also intricately linked to the food and beverage, hospitality, tourism, and packaging sectors. With India’s demographic shift, the growth of the young and expanding middle class is projected to persist for several more decades, driving an increase in per capita consumption of various goods and services. Constructive governmental policies can streamline the ease of business in this sector, fostering a more conducive operational climate. By addressing and removing certain barriers, we can propel the sector’s growth to the advantage of all involved parties.”

Delhi Government to grant license for wholesale vends

The Delhi Government has decided to grant license in form L1, L1F and L2 for the wholesale vend of Indian liquor in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi for the licensing year 2023-24 with effect from October 1, 2023.

The Excise Department has said that the prescribed forms can be obtained from its website and that there would be a processing fee of Rs. 5,000 for each license. The Department said that the terms and conditions for the licensing 2023-24 would be the same as that of 2022-23. The government said that it reserved the right to review the duties / fees to be paid / payable in case of any amendment to the law related to liquor and bonded warehouses.

The Department said that in case of existing licensees / registered brands active up to September 30, 2023 there is no change in the EDP / right structure / label / source warehouse etc. The registered brands for the year 2022-23 may be registered for 2023-24 on the same terms and conditions of the previous year, consequent to the payment of requisite fees and submission of undertaking / affidavit of the same.

It said that for new registration of brands applications received without complete information and supporting documents as required in the prescribed form along with annexures shall be liable to be rejected.

These changes are to ensure continuity of supply and the amendments will be in place till the new policy is formed. This will be third time the Delhi Government is giving the extension.

It may be mentioned here that the previous policy introduced in 2021 by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had to be scrapped as it ended up in scandal which is currently under investigation.

The excise department has proposed to extend the existing 2020-21 liquor policy by six months till March 31, 2024, to ensure the continuity of liquor supply. The excise department will issue a formal order in this regard.

Expert welcomes policy

Mr. Raju Vaziraney, one of the veterans of the wine and spirits sector and presently Adviser and Business Development Head of Amrut Distilleries, has welcomed the policy saying technically it is a new policy thereby allowing new companies to get registered and pay one-time fees and not fees from retrospective effect. The Companies will be encouraged to bring – in new brands, thus ensure more variety of brands, more consumer choice. However, he said the new policy gave only two days for companies to submit all documents.

However, he reiterated that the salient features are a) Existing Licences to be renewed by giving an undertaking / affidavit; Existing licences are renewed till March 31, 2024; Existing brands with existing EDPs to continue till March 31, 2024; Existing brands to pay proportionate fees of six months and not  18 months as was the practise in the policy of 2022-23.

In order to ensure continuity of supplies the online transparent system worked overnight & supplies commenced from October 3, 2023. However in view of paucity of time lot of prominent brands are under process of being made available. Mr. Vaziraney said that however, the challenges are that Delhi will have to wait till six more months to get a full-term year policy with possible participation of private trade thereby offering a great buying experience. The vends at the airport could also open next year as presently a world class city like Delhi does not have any vends at the airports

It is expected that Delhi will have a full year policy which will bring-in consumer choice brands and also bring – in reforms in terms of more liquor stores, more in trade outlets, he added.

IWSR appoints Julie Harris as CEO

IWSR Drinks Market Analysis has announced the appointment of Julie Harris as its new CEO. The transition comes following Mark Meek’s decision to step back from the CEO role and to take up a non-executive director position within the company, the world’s leading source of data and intelligence for the $1.5 trillion global alcoholic beverage market.

Julie Harris joins from Comparison Technologies, a leading tech-enabled comparison and customer acquisition platform in the home digital services market, where she was CEO since 2019. Prior to this, Julie held several CEO roles across a number of sectors, including WGSN, the global leader in trend forecasting for the fashion and retail industry.

Julie Harris commented, “I am delighted to be joining the very talented team at IWSR at such an exciting stage in its evolution and to build on the phenomenal growth of the last few years. Mark leaves the company in fantastic shape and I look forward to working with our global teams to continue to develop new and exciting products for our valued clients.”

Under Mark Meek’s leadership, IWSR has delivered annual revenue growth of 20% and has significantly expanded the coverage and functionality of its core database. The company has also developed a range of new products, including annual strategic consumer sentiment studies on topical issues such as e-commerce, no-and-low alcohol drinks and the impact of Covid-19. In conjunction with its strong organic growth, IWSR has also completed the acquisition of Wine Intelligence France, broadening its coverage of the wine sector.

Julian Masters, managing partner at Bowmark Capital, leading private equity investor and IWSR majority shareholder, commented, “Mark has been both a great leader of IWSR and partner to Bowmark, driving transformational change during his tenure as CEO. We thank him for his significant contribution to the company’s success and are delighted that we will be continuing to work together in his new role. We look forward to working closely with Julie Harris on delivering IWSR’s next phase of growth and continued product development.”

Mark Meek said, “I’m incredibly proud of what the IWSR team has accomplished, with the support of Bowmark, since the management transitioned from our founder. The business has grown strongly, and we’ve considerably enlarged our talent base and product range. The future continues to look bright. So now, after nearly 10 years, I believe it is a great moment to hand over the reins of the business to the talented Julie Harris. I look forward to being part of the IWSR story as a non-executive and will give Julie all my support to ease her into the new role.”

Ron De Ugar Handcrafted Rum Review

The Ron De Ugar Rum comes from Ugar Sugars Works Ltd who have been in the Sugar business for about 75 years. And as you know that manufacturing ENA is a natural extension of being in this business and in line with that Ugar Sugar also has a portfolio of spirit products in the market. This is their first rum product and is priced at Rs. 1300 in Goa for a 750 ml bottle. The rum features a 42.8% ABV and is currently only available in Goa and Karnataka, with plans to launch it soon in others states as well.

Why the Name?

It is common to believe if this rum is from India? The name suggests that it might be an international product and honestly I also thought for it to be one at first glance. But this is a 100% Indian handcrafted Rum and it is manufactured in the Ugar Khurd region, which is a small hamlet in the erstwhile princely state of Sangli in the West of India, on the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The region is a sugar manufacturing-focused township with large areas under sugarcane cultivation, which is where the distillery is based and also of course this rum is also made there. And since this comes from the Ugar region, its named after it, the ‘Ron de’ has been added to give it some flair of course. 

Apart from the name there are few other interesting things about this Rum, and the most important is that this is made from cane spirits and not molasses. Most of the rums that you find in India are made from Molases, whisky’s also in fact. Much like Camicara Rum, which is also a small batch rum made from cane spirit, Ron De Ugar is mixed with mature 3-5 year rums and cane spirit.

Another interesting thing about this rum is the moniker on the rum. When you look at him it seems like an international figure, but this is actually Shivaji’s Naval Commander, Kanoji Angre, who use to monitor that belt and is also known as askilled navy chief hence used here. 

Kanoji Angre features as the moniker on the label

How is it made?

So, how exactly is this rum produced? The aged rums are combined with cane spirits and left to mature gradually in Oakwood casks. Afterward, they’re mixed with fragrant spices to create a unique flavour. This rum is crafted and bottled at the Ugar Sugar Works Ltd. in Ugar Khurd, located in the Belagavi district of Karnataka.

The Rum is matured in Oakwood Cask

Packaging:

Similar to many other rums available in this segment, it comes in a canister. A marron base colour along with gold letterings make it look good and the canister also has some night texture with the picture of the Naval Commander Kanoji Angre on it. The shape of the bottle is similar to that if Monkey Shoulder whisky somewhat.

The bottle looks like Monkey Shoulder Whisky

Nosing:

With an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 42.8%, this rum is undoubtedly smooth while nosing. Its sweetness carries note reminiscent of vanilla, which is evident from the aroma it imparts. There’s a distinct and clear vanilla scent. While there’s not much spiciness, the scent is deep and intense. Taking a whiff of this rum can also provide a pleasant sensation, gently expanding one’s nostrils.

Tasting:

Talking about the taste, as expected, it’s smooth. When the spirit enters the mouth, it feels refined, smooth and also warm. The spiciness hits you slightly late just as the vanilla sweetness fades away. There’s a lingering texture on the palate, offering a warm and comfortable feeling. Interestingly, although the spiciness isn’t obvious at first sip, it becomes evident shortly after. The spiciness is balanced and not overwhelming, providing a relaxed experience. The finish is prolonged, felt at the back of the throat, and carries a warm sensation with a subtle hint of spice. Despite the enticing aroma of vanilla and sweetness, these flavours don’t translate as strongly onto the palate. For a rum with a 42.8% ABVit goes down smoothly.

Conclusion:

Priced at ₹1300, this rum certainly falls into the premium category. It’s important to note that this isn’t a budget-friendly option, especially when considering potential higher costs in other states. But the makers are very clear that this is meant to be a handcrafted small batch rum. While the rum is good I would’ve been happier if it would’ve been priced at around Rs. 900 – 1000, it would’ve flown off the shelves then. But overall you must try this for sure, atleast once.

The House of Suntory celebrates 100 Years of Pioneering Japanese Spirit

  • The Founding House of Japanese Whisky partners with film icons Sofia Coppola and Keanu Reeves
  • Introduces new limited-edition whiskies to toast its centennial

The House of Suntory, the Founding House of Japanese Whisky, celebrates its 100th anniversary of whisky innovation: a major milestone not only for Suntory’s history but for Japanese spirits culture. In honour of this centennial, the House releases a Suntory Anniversary Tribute as imagined by Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola and starring actor Keanu Reeves, as well as exclusive 100th anniversary editions of its world-renowned whiskies.

Twenty years after filming Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola returned to Japan to create the Suntory Anniversary Tribute. Coppola brings her artistic genius and admiration for Suntory Whisky to life as the creative director of The Tribute that honours Suntory’s illustrious past, present and future. The Suntory Anniversary Tribute tells the remarkable story of the brand’s heritage and whisky-making legacy over the last 100 years, depicting the meaning of “Suntory Time” through the eyes of its creator. It features actor Keanu Reeves, a lover of Suntory Whisky and who previously appeared in a Suntory Reserve ad campaign in 1992, debuted yesterday during the Suntory Time 100th Anniversary Global Premiere event in New York City.

“As the pioneer of Japanese whisky, the House of Suntory played a significant role in shaping culture and leading craftsmanship in Japan over the last century,” said Jon Potter, Managing Director of House of Suntory. “To mark this historic milestone, partnering with Sofia and Keanu, who are Suntory Whisky fans, makes perfect sense. From our Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo’s striking blends to Sofia and Keanu’s unique cinematic creations, this commemoration has surpassed all expectations to celebrate our iconic Japanese whiskies.”

Later this summer, Reeves will star in another creative project in partnership with the House of Suntory: a series of documentary shorts from filmmaker Roman Coppola titled: “The Nature and Spirit of Japan.” The series explores Japanese whisky culture inspired by harmony with nature (Wa), elevated by Japanese craftsmanship (Monozukuri) and enjoyed as an authentic Japanese cultural experience (Omotenashi). The docuseries will strike a balance between education and entertainment, aiming to foster a deeper exploration of the House of Suntory and Japanese culture overall.

“I’m honored to partner with Suntory Whisky again thirty years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” said Keanu Reeves. “I’m a huge fan of Suntory Whisky, so it’s very special to collaborate in honour of this milestone anniversary. My admiration for the whisky goes beyond tasting the whisky. It is the elevated Japanese craftsmanship and attention to every detail that makes Suntory Whisky so special. As an actor honing and perfecting my own craft, sharing this process in a docuseries is a thrill.”

In honour of the centennial, the House of Suntory is releasing several limited-edition whiskies that highlight the unique Japanese craftsmanship at Suntory’s whisky distilleries and their meticulous art of blending, including Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt whiskies. Limited 100th anniversary labels of the flagship Yamazaki 12-Year-Old and Hakushu 12-Year-Old will also be released for the centennial.

“Hakushu and Yamazaki whiskies are gifts from our past handed down by generations,” said Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo. “It is fitting to release limited editions as part of this incredible milestone, as they represent our relentless pursuit of quality and symbolise our promise to carry our philosophy on for the next one hundred years and beyond.”

The centennial of the House of Suntory began with the establishment of its Yamazaki Distillery in 1923 – the first and oldest malt whisky distillery in Japan’s history. The House of Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii’s 100-year legacy began with a dream to “create an original Japanese whisky blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship,” which his grandson Shingo Torii carries forth today at Yamazaki and its distilleries across the country. Since its founding, the House of Suntory has been crafting world-class spirits and is known for Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, Kakubin, Hibiki, Suntory Whisky Toki and Ao, as well as Roku Gin and Haku Vodka.

This landmark anniversary is a significant milestone for House of Suntory and for its home country of Japan. As a first step toward its promising future, the House of Suntory is investing 10 billion JPY ($77 million USD) to enhance its Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries which are currently closed for renovation and scheduled to reopen this fall. The House of Suntory has become synonymous with some of the best Japanese whiskies in the world today, and it has undoubtedly built a legacy worthy of celebration.

The House of Suntory has invited fans to join its new global membership programme. Members will be among the first to hear about House of Suntory new releases, receive priority consideration for invitations to consumer experiences, learn news from the distilleries, gain early access to content and more. The House of Suntory membership programme aims to bring Japanese whisky enthusiasts together around the world and provide a cultural journey through Japan.

The Rise of Craft Beer and a Burgeoning Microbrewery Segment in India

Recent years have seen the rise of craft beer, a new crop of premium beer produced in small batches by independent producers. There are now strong indications that the growing demand for craft beer is paving the way for new microbreweries in India.

The beer industry in India has emerged in the last two decades to become a thriving money spinner today. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t commonplace to find modern bars, restobars, lounges, and even friends sitting over a few beers. Today, there’s a new culture of brewing in India, even among millennials and Gen Zs, and beer has become trendy. As of 2022, the beer market was valued at 383.6 billion, growing at a CAGR of 8.1%, and expected to reach 622.4 billion by 2028.

Recent years have also seen the rise of craft beer, a new crop of premium beer produced in small batches by independent producers, with an emphasis on new and evolving flavours, enthusiasm, and techniques. There are now strong indications that the growing demand for craft beer is paving the way for microbreweries in India. Some industry players believe this is only the start of a journey that can transform the beer scene much more significantly.

Craft beer flexibility and a burgeoning segment

There’s a growing crop of craft beer producers and brands in India who seem determined to take over the beer market with what they call a breath of fresh air. “Being true to style and ingredients, the experience that craft beer provides in terms of flavour, aroma and array of styles has led to the growth of craft beer the world over. We often say that once one has tasted true craft, he’ll never go back to industrial lager, especially if craft is available within reach.

“This is the reason that the world and, indeed, India are seeing the growth of microbreweries. Industrial lager literally offers one-style-fits-all products, whereas craft gives the choice back to the consumer for its preferred taste profile and styles,” said Upesh Gulati, Founder, Strategist, and Master Brewer, Effingut Breweries Pvt Ltd.

Over the years, Effingut has taken pride in introducing patrons to various different styles from around the world. With 16 different craft beers on tap, there is a flavour for each and every patron to enjoy. As of today, Effingut has a pan-India presence with three different verticals across four cities that cater to any kind of patron. This includes the Effingut 2 Go boutique stores, Effingut Bistros, and The Effingut Brewpubs and Taprooms.

Rather than release large batches of single-flavour, often mundane beers, microbreweries offer a variety of tastes and flavours based on the changing preferences of consumers and innovativeness of producers. As more adventurous beer enthusiasts emerge, craft beer makers have to continually innovate and expand to meet growing demands. According to Dr. Nishant Grover, Brew Master at Hotel The Royal Plaza, craft beer has quickly become a trend in India.

“There are several factors responsible for the growth of microbreweries in India. First is the shifting consumer tastes and the desire for distinctive and expensive beverages, as well as the fact that they are becoming more daring and discriminatory in their taste preferences. Second, increasing disposable income has also contributed to the growth of microbreweries, and lastly, we must acknowledge the encouraging government policies that are making microbreweries like our own The Royal Brewery Bistro to thrive,” he says.

Creating richer experiences with richer flavours

Microbreweries like The Royal Brewery Bistro are also being fostered by the craze for the culture by both local and international tourists and beer enthusiasts. This contributes to the overall tourism sector in India. Beyond that, the most important changes are the ones seen in the lives of budding beer drinkers in India. Younger Indians are becoming adventurous and seek out newer tastes each new day.

“After a long hectic day at work, people would stop by a bar to relax with a mug of their favourite beer in hand. But now with changing demographics, millennials and Gen Zs, people’s taste for beer is also undergoing a shift. They are looking for something different to explore and experiment including their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It was only 20 years ago that the first breweries opened in the industrial city of Gurugram. Today, there are microbreweries spurring across the country. Well-known internationally trained brewers are brewing international quality beer recipes in new-world pubs and bars across the country.  As the best quality raw material is available with ease, production becomes less hassle, this is why craft beer availability is spreading across the country. Multiple yearly events on brewing and brewing equipment have also propelled information sharing and technical know-how for the industry,” explains Sandeep Singh Katiyar, CEO of The Finch, one of the finest premium luxury lounges in India, known for its extensive range of freshly brewed craft beer.

Breaking the odds, surging ahead

There’s still a long way to go. The craft beer culture may be growing in popularity, but it is still relatively young in India. Brewing has certainly become easier because quality ingredients are easier to come by and the manufacturing process has been simplified. However, there’s a long path ahead, and it is rough and rocky. There’s need for both the central and state governments to support the segment and its operators for them to thrive even better and ensure the growth is smooth.

As Katiyar of The Finch puts it, “The new brewery policies in Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have helped craft beer businesses scale to new heights. However, craft beer and microbreweries yet have a long path to cover and have plenty of hindrances to cross in the upcoming years. The industry requires care, support, and nurture from the state and central governments. With the government’s support, the smooth growth of microbreweries can be ensured.”

The idea of authenticity loved by millennials is what is spurring the growth in the industry, and there’s need to support the over 200 microbreweries in India to succeed, while also ensuring new ones emerge, especially in far-flung cities and towns where they’re currently non-existent.

“It’s no secret millennials live life differently. Things no longer matter. Experiences do. Indeed, the potential rise of craft beer has paved way for many microbreweries in India. Millennials are clearly choosing experiences over things, fuelling the homecoming of microbreweries. They now know that there is much to the world of beer than just the dull and mass-produced bottled hard liquor. With hints of chocolate or sweet caramel, floral hops or fruity notes, rich coffee undercurrents and more – the options are tempting and endless. Today, India is now growing its own craft culture one sip at a time, and it will get even better in the future,” notes Anirudh Khanna Managing Director, Independence Brewing Company.  

Bacardi Limited Appoints New Director to Board

Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held international spirits company, recently announced the appointment of Alicia Enciso to the Company’s Board of Directors.

Alicia brings more than 30 years of experience with multinational Fortune 100 Companies in the Food and Beverages sectors with roles as General Manager, President, Chief Marketing Officer, and E-Business Officer. Since 2017, she has served as Chief Marketing Officer of Nestlé USA and previously served as President of the Beverages Division. She recently announced her retirement from Nestlé. Prior roles include Principal Consultant and Managing Director of Zyman Group, a subsidiary of MDC Partners and various marketing leadership roles at Procter & Gamble and Estée Lauder.

“Alicia is a well-rounded business leader and global marketer who has presided over some of the world’s best-known brands. Her enthusiasm for modern marketing and building sustainable brands are a great complement to our long-term business ambitions and to continuing the family legacy for generations to come,” saids Facundo L. Bacardi, Chairman of Bacardi Limited and fifth-generation family member.

Originally from Mexico, Alicia has been recognised as one of “Most Influential 100 Latinas” by Latino Leaders Magazine and named “Latino Marketer of the Year” by the Hispanic Marketing Council. Alicia also serves on the Executive Board for the Association of National Advertisers and the Board of the Alliance for Multicultural & Inclusive Marketing. She previously sat on the Advisory Board of Google 21st Century Marketing. The Bacardi Limited Board of Directors is comprised of 13 members.