Tag Archives: Alcobev

IndSpirit 2021 Awards underline quality of brands and packaging: Judges

After two years of Covid, Indspirit 2021 Awards evaluation got underway with all seriousness.

It was indeed nice to see the coming together of professionals, after a two year lull, for the Ambrosia wine and spirits tasting sessions, as part of the Indspirit 2021 awards which is happening on December 17 in New Delhi. Five judges for the Ambrosia Alcobev products tasting and four judges for the packaging awards huddled together for two days to judge 252 brands. The eminent jury tasted different brands in all categories of whisky, vodka, gin, rum, brandy, craft spirits, wine and beer and the jury on packaging evaluated on various parameters.

Eminent jury panel

The eminent tasting jury comprised Dr. Binod.K.Maitin, ex-USL and an independent consultant; Graeme Bowie, President – Malt Plant, Piccadily Agro Industries Ltd; Ajoy Shaw, Wine Maker and consultant; Sheetal Kadam, Wine & Spirits promoter and independent consultant; and Bernard Schaefer, a veteran judge from Germany.

The expert packaging jury consisted of Pranav Bhide, Leo Burnett Creative Director; Prof. K. Munshi, former Head of IIT Design department and independent consultant; Dr.Santosh Kshirsagar, Dean of J.J.School of Applied Arts; and Shekhar Ambedkar, Assistant Director and Head of the International Packaging Centre.

Scope for new entrants

The alcobev industry in the country largely comprises of Indian made whisky which accounts for a sizable share in boosting the growth of this sector. Across segments, domestically produced brands account for a higher share of consumer preference and there is still significant scope for new entrants to gain consumer preference.

The spirits industry in India with over 60% preference for whisky, offers great untapped potential for growth. There are several opportunities within the domestic sector markets for Indian whiskies to grow. There is huge country liquor consuming audience base that is seeking better quality products and have been upgrading over the years. India’s relatively young population sees newer individuals/consumers added each year to the legal drinking age – wherein Indian whisky could become the entry point for this audience. There has also been a growth of women whisky drinkers aided by on-premises and retail environments. All of these factors indicate the scope to fully explore the Indian spirits market.

Internationally, markets with a large Indian diaspora as well as those having similar palette to the Indian consumer see a strong preference for Indian whiskies. Some of the world’s top-selling whisky brands come from India and find much consumer love, globally as well.

What the judges have to say about the range

Dr. Binod Maitin says Indian whiskies are predominant among the top whisky rankings based on volume of sales. Indian whiskies have a distinct identity due to the tradition of blending with neutral alcohol produced from cane molasses to produce extra neutral alcohol (ENA). Economy whiskies are made with ENA and flavourings, premium blended whiskies contain Indian and Scotch malts, and single-malt whiskies use only Indian malts. Neutral alcohol from grain has also been adopted by manufacturers, particularly for premium whiskies.

Graeme Bowie, opines that there is huge improvement in quality of the products, even in the economy category. “There is passion for quality.”

Ajoy Shaw is impressed with the huge variety of spirits available for the Indian consumer. The discerning consumer looks for good value, good quality and a plethora of options. Similarly, Sheetal Kadam is delighted to see the expanding range of spirits in the Indian market. The portfolio is ever expanding and good for the consumer who is now spoilt for choice.

Bernard Schaefer, a veteran judge, is always in awe of the brands presented at Indspirit competition, however, some don’t exactly make the mark according to him. One good thing, he says is that there is constant improvement in the quality of products presented every year.

Sensory evaluation

Talking about the competition, Binod Maitin says, “Sensory evaluation is used as the primary means of flavour control in the industry. This chapter describes the origins of flavour in whisky and the typical sensory methods used both during production and in consumer research. The panel is experienced and harmonised. Mistakes in samples are pointed out. Samples are provided for references.”

Graeme Bowie says the brands are fairly good, endorsing the same is Ajoy Shaw who feels that all brands can easily get a bronze medal and more. Sheetal Kadam believes that the quality is above average.

Technology driving change

Technology is driving change in operations and strategy – right from crop analysis to smartphones scanning product labels. Big data and analytics have also been major drivers for the alcobev industry when it comes to improving insights across the supply chain. Having in-place solutions to provide real-time insights can help identify the largest problems at hand and find ways to optimise production and maintain quality.

Analytics is beneficial

Additionally, when we look at operations and quality assessment, and analytics strategy can go a long way in helping run plants, raw material test analysis, blend inspection analysis, quality control, compliance, end of line quality analysis, hygiene assessment, and managing customer complaints. There are multiple visual and physical checks required across various stages, and because it is a restricted environment wherein companies are bound by various regulations, analytics can be extremely beneficial.

Quality of brands improving every year

Talking about the quality of brands on offer, Binod Maitin, who has created many succesful blends, says the alcobev brands are okay. Wines are a problem, he says because of storage issues. Graeme Hamilton opines the products are plausible. Ajoy Shaw believes all brands can do well in the market place. Sheetal Kadam says there is improvement to a large extent as there is demand for upgradation.

Packaging market to touch nearly $39 billion by 2026

The alcoholic drinks packaging market was valued at USD 29.84 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach a market value of USD 38.87 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 5.06% during the forecast period (2021-2026). Globally, growth in disposable income, coupled with increased spending on recreational activities, is a major influencing factor that collectively lead to growth of alcohol consumption, which fuels the growth of the alcoholic drinks packaging market over the forecast period.

Major manufacturing companies in the alcohol industry follow attractive packaging formats, which include ceramic glass bottles, whiskey pouches, bag-in-box, bag-in-tube, etc. Changing consumer preferences are also affecting the market significantly. Over the years, growing awareness among the brand manufacturers about differentiating their alcoholic products based on the packaging is also expected to contribute to the growth of the alcoholic drinks packaging market.

Conventionally, European and American manufacturers are often referred to as the leading producers of alcohol beverages. However, with the rise in demand for Chinese beer and Japanese whiskey, Asia-Pacific is increasingly becoming a major market for alcoholic beverage production, creating a massive demand for alcoholic drinks packaging solutions.

Metal packaging growing market

Owing to various benefits offered by metal packaging, such as better hermetic sealing and high mechanical strength, there is a growing preference for metal packaging from the companies present in the alcoholic drinks packaging market.However, fluctuating raw material prices and implementation of stringent regulations on packaging materials used for alcoholic beverages may hinder the growth of the market.

Judging parameters

The judges looked at parameters such as unit pack, canister, graphics, new ideas and feel. This is what judges had to say on the brands that were presented for packaging, their sustainability and their comparison in the international market place.

Pranav Bhide said the first impressions of the packaging is its versatility. It is important for the brands to stand out. The buzz word in today’s world is sustainability. There is a sea change in the packaging of Indian liquor and it is towards Indianness. Indian brands can match international brands, but it is still not there.

Prof. K. Munshi says after two years of pandemic it is a nice feeling to be here for Indspirit and once again judging packaging. He felt that despite the pandemic entries this year are more and also there is qualitative improvement in packaging. “It was a tough time judging” and hoped that there would be more creativity. However, he felt there was no evidence of sustainable packaging. “Indian liquor industry needs to take help and take advice. Indian brand packaging has long way to go. We need to put in efforts in R & D and innovation.”.

Dr. Santosh Kshirsagar was of the view that this year’s packaging industry did not have much variety as compared to last year. “Indian liquor industry should have a different approach. Indianness needs to be reflected and must stand out in the market place. Sustainability is an extremely important world issue. We have not identified a value for it. It is not easy, but it is a fundamental issue. Caps of bottles are a sensitive issue.. There is a long tradition in design. India has traditional visual imagery. Futuristically it is possible to succeed with this imagery. We need to make a mark with packaging.”

Shekhar Ambedkar says he has seen at Indspirit a range of unique packaging and innovation. “There is uniqueness in materials and the future should be sustainable packaging and believes that regulation would help in that direction. This year there are very commendable glass bottles for beer, especially those with a special tint. Good design is also present. We have been matching international standards. Companies should work towards being unique and that will sell.”

Lotus Family Trust to pick up 7.13% stake in Tilaknagar Industries

Alcoholic beverage manufacturer, Tilaknagar Industries Limited (TI) in an intimation to the stock exchange has said that its Board of Directors has approved issuing over one crore eighteen lakh equity shares on preferential basis to Barclays Wealth Trustees (India) Pvt. Ltd. acting as a Trustee of Lotus Family Trust.

TI said that the preferential issuance of equity shares would be done for cash at a price of `53 per share, including a premium of `43 per share. After the issue of the aforesaid equity, the Lotus Family Trust would hold 7.13% whereas the promoters would continue to hold nearly 49% equity in TI. The company has got shareholders’ approval for the same at an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting on November 27, 2021.

Recently, TI had reported having completed its debt-restructuring process which included one-time settlements (OTS) with banks, resulting in a financial turnaround. As part of the process, the company had entered into a long restructuring agreement with Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company (EARC) wherein total loans of `523 crore have been restructured at `344 crore at an interest rate of 9%.

Earlier, TI had issued approximately 1.39 cr shares to Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (EARC) at a price of `24.36 per equity share (including premium of `14.36 per equity share). The allotment of shares on preferential basis to EARC was done in respect of conversion of part of the debt owed to EARC by the company amounting to approximately `33.86 cr.

The company has also said that the Board of Directors has approved issuing over Twenty Seven Lakh Equity Shares to Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (“EARC”), an asset at a price of `53 per share (including a premium of `43 per share), fully paid-up towards restructuring of debt by way of conversion of part of the debt owed to it by the Company amounting to over Fourteen Crores into Equity Shares of the Company on preferential basis.

Led by strong growth and sharp decline in finance costs, TI, maker of the famous Mansion House brandy, registered profit in the April-June quarter of the current financial, after a series of quarters. The company also reported a 140% increase in net sales to `135.30 crore in the quarter ended June 2021 as against `56.38 crore in the same period a year ago.

Parksons Packaging Ltd. acquires Manohar Packaging, new entity to have presence across India

Manohar Packaging, a leading player in the alcobev industry with a pan India presence has now been sold to Parksons. This gives Parksons a major presence in the alcobev industry. Aditya Patwardhan, Board Member, unveils details of the new entity and the way forward.

What is the nature of the sale of Manohar Packaging to Parksons? Can you share some details?

As widely published in leading newspapers and media, Manohar Packaging (“MPPL”) has been acquired in entirely, by Parksons Packaging Ltd., a Warburg Pincus owned company, and the industry leader in paper based packaging. Post the deal, the Board of Directors of MPPL has been reconstituted strengthening the company’s management team.

The newly constituted board includes Rameshji, Siddharth, and Chaitanya Kejriwal, from Parksons, and Hemant Mundra, from Warburg Pincus. I continue as a board member. All of us will work as a professional management team and continue to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset.

Till the time the integration is complete, MPPL will continue as a subsidiary, however all back end operations, reporting and data management will be merged and streamlined with immediate effect, to offer our clients a seamless experience with a newer and larger network of plants, with clubbed and standardised materials management. We hope to broadly convert around 300,000 tons of sustainable and renewable paperboard in the near future in toto.

What are the strategic benefits to both companies arising out of the transactions?

What this effectively means is, that our clients now have a network of eight mega plants spanning the length and breadth of India, with state-of-the-art technology, standardised inputs, systems, quality parameters, and methods of operations.

The care and detail with which we have been working with our partners and clients – be it in terms of packaging design, development, validation, to market supplies, will only improve. The combined strengths of Parksons scale, and MPPL’s domain expertise in alcobev, will be evident in the work we do going forward.

Our Design Park is unparalleled, and equipped with the best software and digital technology. The combined team of creative pre-press, technical packaging developers, coupled with production experience, will soon be deployed on new projects and will bear testimony to this.

MPPL’s plants located in Goa (West) and Punjab (North), will be part of the total network including Pantnagar (North – 2 units), Sri City (South), Daman & Chakan (West).

What I am most excited about is our increased ground presence with a state-of-the-art plant in Guwahati (North East), with which we can serve our clients in the east of India with speed and efficiency.

Will there be any changes to the way Manohar Packaging continues to work?

As in the case of most mergers & acquisitions, the aim is to grow the new entity and improve our overall ability to serve our clients. Given we’re a ‘B2B’ industry, it is extremely important to ensure we are moving in the same direction and journey as our valued partners.

The Kejriwal family and us share a common vision, the same mind set, goals, and growth plans. There was a meeting of minds, which ticked off all the boxes. The industry and our clients will be the biggest beneficiary of this deal.

Delineation and segregation between shareholding and professional management is important and we all are in it to grow as India’s most preferred supply partner for paper based packaging. Both our companies are held by Warburg Pincus and we’re glad to have them as we will continue to think like entrepreneurs, work in a professional environment, and deploy our knowledge and strength to drive more power to the company.

What is the status of the liquor packaging industry?

Currently, like the liquor industry, the supporting packaging industry is equally fragmented. There are a great number of players in the game, and we are happy to co-exist.

Clients decide whom they wish to partner with, and they have several criteria to choose from in terms of a holistic approach to supply chain, or purely price based on any given month.

We, at Parksons, run highly regulated and governed companies, with sustainability, social compliance, ESG taking high priority in the way we operate and run our facilities.

Hence we’re more focussed on long term client partners who value the need for transparency, professionalism, fair governance, and sustainable practices. We are extremely fortunate and honoured to partner with them, and I’m sure more beverage companies will value this long term approach eventually.

Alcobev is an exciting place to be, and is the gold standard for premium packaging. So likewise, most players in this field, need to be on top of their game with technology upgradation, technical knowledge, and downstream supply chain security given that commodity markets are in their most turbulent phase at the moment. This is where the long term approach wins for most.

How has the pandemic affected the company?

Here again, the fact that our organisations are well managed and governed helped a lot. Both MPPL and Parksons’ plants were up and running shortly into lockdown 1, with the highest safety protocols and were operating when our clients needed us most.

In unprecedented times, I am proud that the human ‘can do’ spirit and agility took precedence and we managed the show when many could not. I earnestly would like to thank our clients and mill partners for supporting us, so we in turn could deliver whatever was needed out of us in short notice with great agility and flexibility.

I would say, looking back, it has been the toughest learning curve for all of us, and we have come out of it stronger. I say this with certainty and hope, that the worst is truly behind us.

How can the premiumisation trend boost the industry?

Premium products are seeing higher salience and acceptance, maybe owing to increase in home consumption due to lockdowns, modernisation of retail outlets (Delhi), and clearing of red tape for home delivery / app enabled ordering of brands as an added convenience to the consumer.

The dark market woes of the alcohol industry still remain, and hence the pack is the first impression that the consumer takes home with them. Most marketeers understand this very well, and we’re beginning to see less ‘me-toos’ and more bespoke work in the recent few quarters.

With premiumisation and better margins, alcobev companies are able to experiment with new innovations, and can justify higher packaging budgets. This brings in a lot of excitement to the consumer as well as the retail shelves, leading to growth and diversification in the industry.

Improvements in the overall consumption experience that the leading premium brands offer, viz.; design cues, primary & secondary packaging upgrades, closure, to pour and palate should lead to better and wider social acceptance of responsible and repeat consumption in the near future. Premium outlets will need premium looking brands, and going by the Delhi market example, there should be tremendous headroom for growth here.

Cheers to that!

Ambrosia Awards 2021

The 14th edition of INDSPIRIT 2021, organized by Ambrosia, the wine and spirit magazine, held on December 17th 2021 in New Delhi, came as a much needed breather to the alcobev industry. Industry leaders and other stakeholders descended upon Hotel Andaz for IndSpirit 2021, primarily to ‘reconnect’ with the alcobev community.

INDSPIRIT 2021, a mix of conference, exhibition and awards, was a runaway success, not just because ofthe huge number of attendees, but because it set a ‘positive tone’ for the industry.

The Managing Director of SAP Media Worldwide, Mr. Trilok Desai, set the tone for INDSPIRIT 2021 by talking about how the alcobev sector was bouncing back with a positive outlook, after a lull of almost two years adversely affected by the pandemic.

Braving the Delhi winter, industry stakeholders turned out in good number, endorsing the spirit of Ambrosia to move on, overcome the challenges and grab the opportunities. The coming together of the industry was heartening to note for a sector which has so much to offer, thanks to quality enhancements, innovation and camaraderie. Cheers to the Alcobev sector, INDSPIRIT and Ambrosia for saying ‘goodbye to 2021’ and welcoming 2022 with a lot of hope.

Ambrosia Awards 2021 Winners

Category – Beer

BEST MILD BEER

Tag Premium Lager Beer

BEST BEER – STRONG CATEGORY

Bira 91 Gold Wheat Strong Beer

BEST BEER – STRONG CATEGORY

Sterren 8 Premium Strong Beer

Category – Wine

BEST POPULAR WHITE WINE

Fumé Blanc

BEST PREMIUM WHITE WINE

Soma Chardonnay Reserve

BEST PREMIUM INDIAN RED WINE

Reveilo Reserve Syrah

BEST POPULAR IMPORTED RED WINE

Born West Cabernet Sauvignon

BEST SUPER PREMIUM IMPORTED RED WINE

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

BEST SPARKLING WINE

Casablanca Spumante Sparkling Wine

Category – Vodka

BEST POPULAR VODKA

One More Pure Craft Vodka

BEST PREMIUM VODKA

Smoke Classic Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM VODKA

Stolichnaya Premium Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM VODKA

Juno Premium Pink Flavoured Vodka

BEST PREMIUM FLAVOURED VODKA

Magic Moments Verve Cranberry Tease Premium Flavoured Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM FLAVOURED VODKA

Absolut Grapefruit Vodka

Category – Gin

BEST PREMIUM GIN

Beefeater London Dry Gin

BEST SUPER PREMIUM GIN

Roku Japanese Craft Gin

BEST FLAVOURED GIN

Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb And Ginger

Category – Rum

BEST POPULAR BLACK RUM

Commander N Chief Caribbean Gold XXX Rum

BEST PREMUIM BLACK RUM

1965 Spirit Of Victory Premium XXX Rum

BEST PREMIUM RUM

Amrut Two Indies Rum

BEST WHITE RUM

Aspira Lemon Twist Rum

Category – Brandy

BEST POPULAR BRANDY

British Empire Brandy

BEST PREMIUM BRANDY

Courrier Napoleon Finest French Brandy

Category – Whisky

BEST IMFL REGULAR WHISKY

Royal Green Whisky

BEST IMFL POPULAR WHISKY

Oaksmith International Blended Whisky

BEST IMFL SEMI PREMIUM WHISKY

Single Reserva Premium Whisky

BEST IMFL SEMI PREMIUM WHISKY

Whistler Blended Malt Whisky

Best IMFL PREMIUM WHISKY

Signature Premier Grain Whisky

BEST FLAVOURED WHISKY

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Flavoured Whisky

BEST BLENDED SCOTCH BII

Grant’s Distinction Blended Scotch Whisky

BEST SCOTCH (BIO) ABOVE 12 YRS WHISKY

Dewar’s 15 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

BEST INDIAN SINGLE MALT

The Three Monkeys Indian Single Malt Whisky

BEST SINGLE MALT

Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Aged 12 Years

PACKAGING AWARDS INDSPIRIT 2021

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (UNIT PACK)

United’s Epitome Reserve Rare Grain Whisky

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (UNIT PACK)

Glenfiddich Limited Edition Gift Pack

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (GRAPHICS)

8 PM Premium Black Whisky Cricksaw and Howzat

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (IDEA)

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BEER CANISTER)

Bira 91 Gold Wheat Strong Beer

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (CANNISTER)

Morpheus Blue XO Premium Brandy

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BEER BOTTLE)

Sterren 8 Premium Strong Beer

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BOTTLE SHAPE)

Roku Japanese Craft Gin

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BOTTLE SHAPE)

Bacardi Reserva Ocho Aged 8 Years

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS INDSPIRIT 2021

FASTEST GROWING BRAND

Rockford Reserve Whisky & Rockford Classic Whisky

EXCELLENCE IN BRAND PROMOTION AND MARKETING

1965 Spirit Of Victory Premium XXX Rum

EXCELLENCE IN BRAND PROMOTION AND MARKETING

Oaksmith God International Blended Whisky

EXCELLENCE IN RETAIL AND DISTRIBUTION

STAR Agencies

NEW PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

United’s Epitome Reserve Rare Grain Whisky

SPECIAL FELICITATION FOR COMPLETEING 11 YEARS

Hospitality Purchasing Managers & Forum (HPMF)

START-UP OF THE YEAR

Kimaya Himalayan Beverages

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Ankur Jain

Founder & CEO

Bira 91

BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR

Abhishek Khaitan

Managing Director

Radico Khaitan Limited

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR

Shobhan Roy

Oaksmith Whisky – A blend of Scotch Malts, Bourbon and Japanese craftsmanship

The global premium spirits company Beam Suntory has combined its knowledge and expertise of premium spirits from across the globe to bring to India, a truly International blended whisky, ‘Oaksmith Gold’. It is a first of its kind spirit with the best of Scotland and The United States of America by blending premium aged Scotch Malts, aged Kentucky straight Bourbon – some from distilleries over 200 years old – with world class Japanese craftsmanship. Oaksmith Gold and its blend are a celebration of craftsmanship and global collaboration, combining the best of East and West in a beautifully crafted 6-edged bottle. A celebratory ode to the impeccable Japanese craftsmanship, Oaksmith Gold is an iconic global brand starting off from India, bringing in an unmatched international experience with every sip.

What makes it truly gold?

The ingredients do the magic. From Grain to Bottle, Oaksmith Gold is a spirit with a smooth taste. It delicately blends high quality aged Scotch Whisky Malts from the lush highlands of Scotland with aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon whisky from The United States of America using impeccable craftsmanship of Japan. As a result of this world class unique blend created by one of the most celebrated master blenders globally – Shinji Fukuyo, the man with over 30 years of experience creating the most famous award-winning Japanese whiskies in the world such as Yamazaki and Hibiki – the taste of Oaksmith Gold is rich, smooth and refined. On the palate, the flavour profile is mild but full body with woodiness from the oaks casks, on the nose, it is rich fruity and has a sweet top note followed by a hint of smoke (peat), on the finish, it is clean and smooth making it very delightful. This makes it perfectly suited to tickle the taste buds of connoisseurs and beginners alike.

Aged Bourbon Whiskies from the Americas

Elegant. Smooth. Refined. That is what four years of aging in newly charred American white oak barrels does to the bourbon, which goes into the delicate Oaksmith Gold blend. A method tested over more than 200 years of time – a method as old as the distillery that produces it.

Aged Scotch Malt Whiskies from Scotland

Oaksmith contains carefully selected Premium and Aged Scotch Malt Whiskies that speak of the pride and confidence of some of the most charming distilleries in Scotland. Crafted as nature intended, these precisely selected whiskies are known for wholesome maltiness, honeyed sweetness, a delicious creamy texture, and as much character as the Highlands of Scotland!

The Impeccable Craftsmanship of Japan

Japanese dedication to quality and craftsmanship is world renowned. Oaksmith Gold is a perfect representation of Takumi which in Japanese means ‘artisan’ or ‘skillful’ as it is an ode to Japanese craftsmanship. The rare blend has a fine balance of smokiness, sweetness and smoothness that was crafted by world renowned Shinji Fukuyo – Chief Blender at Suntory, the founding house of Japanese Whisky – after spending hours meticulously selecting aged spirits in oak barrels. The name – Oaksmith is a tribute to this craftsmanship, and the fine oak casks that Beam Suntory’s whiskies are aged in. From seed to sip, Oaksmith Gold is gentle on the nose and strikes a balance between the oak’s woodiness with notes of rich fruity sweetness giving it a clean and smooth finish. Further, to truly match it to the local palate, he travelled across the length and breadth of India to understand the nuances of Indian food and flavours and what could match perfectly with them.

What constitutes The Perfect Serve?

This beautifully crafted whisky blends well into any cocktail and pairs well with almost all flavour profiles of food. However, the perfect serve of Oaksmith Gold, is a celebration of purity, authenticity and high quality that comes alive recommended as 45 ml poured in a pre-chilled, wide mouthed whisky rock glass. Add signature Oaksmith Gold spherical ice for this Takumi ritual, if not, four big ice cubes or six small, and finally add water to taste, but no more than the pour size (45ml in this case).

Pricing and Availability

Oaksmith Gold brings Japanese mastery – otherwise a super-premium and luxurious phenomenon – to Indian whisky price points to elevate the product experience many notches above the standard segment offering. Oaksmith Gold is currently available in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Goa, Assam, UP and ranges from Rs. 630 to Rs. 2,000 for a 750 ml bottle.

Alcobev Sector enhances customer delight, thanks to Artificial Intelligence

In 2019, Swedish whisky distillery Mackmyra released Intelligens, said to be the ‘world’s first’ whisky created using AI. Mackmyra collaborated with Microsoft and a Finland-based tech company – Fourkind, and using customer feedback data, they created AI algorithms which picked up recipes that were a delight for the end-consumer.

Microsoft, IBM and other tech companies are active in alcobev

Microsoft, IBM and other digital technology players were making significant forays into the alcobev industry. And the big boys of the alcobev industry soon realised how transformative this could be for the industry itself. They had seen the dividends the retail sector was earning and one by one, they started introducing digital technologies in their processes and the going has been good. Microsoft pitched to Danish multinational brewer Carlsberg for the ‘Beer Fingerprinting Project’ and the two used machine learning to good effect. They fed with beer ingredient characteristics to map out and predict beer flavours, shortening the time it takes to develop new beers. Then there was US-based Sugar Creek Brewing Company which tied up with IBM to use AI to improve its beer manufacturing line where there was a monthly beer spillage amounting to $30,000.

Diageo’s ‘What’s Your Whisky’ is so so customer-centric

One of the global leaders in alcoholic beverages, Diageo launched ‘What’s Your Whisky Selector’, an innovative digital experience that has found favor and flavor with many a whisky connoisseur. What did ‘What’s Your Whisky’ do? It simply used AI and ML to analyse customer’s flavour preferences (variety of sweet, fruity, spicy and smoky flavours found in Single Malt whiskies) and recommended a Single Malt whose flavour profile most closely matched the customer’s taste. Customer delight is something no company would want to miss out on. Diageo rolled-out this experience in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Ok, it is not available in India which boasts of the largest base of whisky drinkers! Diageo said that intelligent automation is deployed in over 100 applications across its business. “Through predictive analytics, machine leaning and robotics process automation, we are growing more productive and more competitive.”Around the same time, other alcobev behemoths such as Beam Suntory, Bacardi, AB InBev, Pernod Ricard and others had also started putting their money on AI, ML and robotics to enhance manufacturing and operational processes and importantly on introducing a new dimension to customer experience.

A lot is brewing in AB InBev’s Beer Garage

Belgium-based AB InBev has something brewing in its ‘Beer Garage’ wherein machine learning is at play. AB inBev has invested in data-driven solutions to help improve beer brewing on the production side, while on the customer side, it is enhancing its customer engagement programme. The world’s largest beer maker (Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona) is using low-cost sensors and machine learning to predict malfunctioning in its brewery, getting to fix it before it happens and thus avoiding huge downtime. Beer Garage is scaling the company’s existing capabilities in AI, ML, Internet of Things, Cloud & data analytics, automation and robotics, and exploring emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AR & VR and others. Innovation at AB InBev drives its commercial strategy, supply chain, and is building sustainable business to improve lives in communities around the world. These technologies are providing the company with unprecedented insight into the needs of its consumers and customers and supporting the growth of the beer category.

Beam Suntory Mexico plant uses drones in agave fields

Beam Suntory, the world’s third largest premium spirits company, deployed drones and AI in its Casa Sauza project. Drones helped the company get an accurate inventory of the agave (Tequila) plants in the fields and to reduce the time it takes to complete the inventory. An AI process is applied to ensure only agave plants, not weeds or any other material, are counted. The inventory data is loaded and tracked in the Sauza Blue Harvest application and later transferred to SAP for SKU tracking. The drone technology is used to manage, monitor and increase crop productivity, and to assist in diagnosing the health and vitality of the agave plants. Beam Suntory is also using digital manufacturing from Rockwell Automation and Cisco to overhaul its business models, improve efficiencies, streamline logistics and update its network. “The future’s promising for Beam’s IT infrastructure and for our networks, and how we can leverage automation and productivity, improving our flavours and our brands. It’s very important to Beam, and I think we’re really moving forward in a good direction,” said Amon Hogue, Senior Network Architect at Beam Suntory.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers gets accurate grape yield

Early this year, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, took on board Complexica, a leading provider of AI software for supply and demand optimisation. It went live with Complexica’s Decision Cloud software platform in Marlborough, New Zealand in what is Pernod Ricard’s largest global technology project. It plans further go-lives in Australia for finished goods planning and production scheduling, followed by Australian and Church Road winery operations, which forms part of a wider programme of activity to enable the business to utilise technology to work faster, smarter and safer. Pernod Ricard Winemakers also engaged Trellis to support its business and supply chain operations by providing accurate grape yield, quality, harvest timing and procurement cost prediction across Australia and New Zealand.

Bacardi’s cool cocktail-making app

Bacardi this year launched a new cocktail-making app that has helped those who were dishing up new cocktail recipes during the pandemic. The app aims to reimagine the bar setting, besides giving bartenders a platform to showcase their talent. The app launched in the US and UK helped boost consumer confidence in making cocktails at home. Bacardi also signed up EPAM which streamlined the spirits manufacturer’s digital environment by implementing a digital platform for multiple brands including Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Breezer, Patron Tequila and more. The DevOps automation platform resulted in 16 times greater website development capacity, and a 42% reduction in infrastructure costs.

Digitization in alcobev still nascent

Though deployment of digital technologies is still in its nascent stages in the alcobev sector, there are a number of early adopters who have invested in digital technologies to not only create flavour profiles faster, but also for other functions, including packaging, logistics, marketing and other processes. It is no-brainer that AI has the power to transform the alcobev industry forever, albeit it is happening at a gradual pace. In fact, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of deployment of AI in the alcobev sector as online deliveries became common; home drinking was becoming the norm; and consumers were looking at new recipes. According to US-based FasTrax Solutions, total alcohol sales registered an increase of 25.5% in 2020, driven by digital marketing initiatives with AI at the core. It said in the US beer sales increased by 20.2%; wine by 30.1%; and spirits by 34.1%. Thanks to e-commerce, the sales figures are looking impressive in these difficult times. Also came along the virtual sommelier, guiding consumers on how to buy wine, how to grow vines and how to taste / judge them. In fact, some winemakers have started investing in AI in their vineyards wherein it gives insights into soil management, pest control etc. Experts believe that large vineyards will deploy drones to help growers manage their yield better. Robots will also be at work to improve efficiencies at the vineyard.

Smart factories’ the future

Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, digital transformation and technology services, has said that beverage manufacturing companies plan to build 40% more ‘smart factories’ in the next five years. It estimates that smart factories will contribute between USD 1.5 trillion and 2.2 trillion to the global economy. And what are ‘smart factories’? They are those that leverage digital technologies to gain significant improvements in productivity, quality, flexibility and service. Three key digital technologies enable the smart factor – Connectivity (collecting data from existing equipment and new sensors); Intelligent automation (drones, machine vision etc); and Cloud-scale data management and analytics. The alcobev industry, one of the oldest in the world, though maybe late entrant to the digitization mode, but has soon caught up. From robots to drones to AI to ML, technology is becoming a key driver for not just growth, but a new customer experience. After all, customer experience matters.

Bengaluru shows the recovery path, alcohol consumption on the rise

Let’s say cheers to the ‘Pub capital’ and ‘Microbrewery capital ‘of India, Bengaluru. It is showing the way to the country that the pandemic should not upset social life with alcohol being an intrinsic part of social life. Consumption of alcohol is on the rise in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka and mind you there is considerable amount of ‘responsible drinking’ happening, with a few exceptions here and there.

The city which introduced pub, microbrewery and nightlife culture is slowly bouncing back, negotiating all the restrictions, ambiguous and unambiguous ones, placed by the government in its bid to check the spread of Covid-19. Though the bars and restaurants are tottering their way back into business, the end-consumer has found ways to keep the spirit going. This is good for the business. The end-consumer is infusing confidence in the liquor business as we witness increased liquor offtake.

Beer and IML offtake up

Consumption of beer has gone up by 38.98 % and Indian Made Liquor (IML) by 31.54% in the first five months of 2021, compared to the corresponding period in 2020 and the Karnataka Excise Department is laughing all the way to the bank. Liquor has been a money spinner for many governments and Karnataka is among the leading states to register good excise revenue. These are the first signs of recovery of the industry which like almost all other sectors was battered by the pandemic.

Karnataka hoping to touch `25,000 in Excise Revenues

Between April and August of 2021, Karnataka had sales of 87.56 lakh cartons of beer, up from 63 lakh cartons of beer in 2020. The trend was similar with regard to IML – 2.61 crore cartons in 2021, up from 1.98 crore cartons last year. Thanks to the end-consumer, the Karnataka Excise Department was able to cross the `10,000 crore revenue mark for the 5 months’ period, an increase from `7,755 crores during the corresponding period in 2020. In these five months, the Department has already registered 41.49% of its annual target and is hoping to surpass the target of `24,580 by the end of the financial year. In 2020, the Department had earned `23,332 crores, getting past the target of `22,700 crores.

Home-drinking gives a push

Thanks to the end-consumers, who quickly adapted themselves to the pandemic situation, and found ways to get their supplies and to drink at home. The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated government measures to limit mobility impacted patterns and places of alcohol consumption. Home became central for survival, for hope, for businesses to have some continuity. Work from home; online shopping; online classes; drink at home; work-out at home and the like have become the new normal, even as businesses are slowly opening up, depending upon what restrictions each State Government keeps announcing on a frequent basis. Remember Lockdown 3.0 last year and when liquor shops reopened? It was crazy queues, not just in Bengaluru, but across the country. The Karnataka Excise Department recorded liquor sales of `45 crores on the first day of reopening, even before the shutters were pulled down at 7 pm. Around 3.9 lakh litres of beer and 8.5 lakh litres of IML was sold on just one day. And one store – Tonique which boasts to be Asia’s largest liquor boutique, made a whopping business of `4 crores on its first day of reopening.

Seek lifting of restrictions

Bengaluru has become a highly vibrant city in the recent past and restaurant and bars are open till 1 a.m, though at the time of writing all restaurants, bars, clubs and wine stores have to close by 9.30 p.m. The Bengaluru Hoteliers Association President, P.C.Rao who recently met the Chief Minister, Basavaraj Bommai tried to convince the government on lifting the ‘unscientific restrictions’. He asked ‘Does the virus come only at night or on weekends?’ Presently, the liquor business is driven by retail vends with night curfew in place and restrictions of seating in bars and restaurants. There is no online sale of liquor in Bengaluru, but people can buy at wine stores, in mega super markets which have a separate liquor outlet and boutique stores.

Mumbai doubles liquor revenue

It is not just Bengaluru or Karnataka which is witnessing growth in sales of liquor, it is happening across the country, though dampened by the pandemic. In Mumbai, liquor revenue doubled from `264.85 crores to `512 crores with the lockdown turning out to a blessing in disguise. The Excise Department here has set a target of `19,500 crores for 2021-2022.

Pune has the most drinkers

According to a 2020 survey by Statista, Pune topped all the cities with 39.02% people consuming alcohol, followed by Mumbai (37.87%), Lucknow (37.5%), Bhubaneswar (37.3%), Hyderabad (37.24%), Delhi (35.54%), Bengaluru (33.39%), Indore (33.33%), Jaipur (32.18%), Chandigarh (28.33%), Chennai (28.16%) and Kolkata (23.5%).

FY21 sees decline in IMFL sales

However, In FY 21, there has been a 12% decline in sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) compared to FY20, according to the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC). For the entire fiscal year, the total sales of IMFL was 305 million cases of nine litres each.

Positive trend in third and fourth quarters expected

The Confederation Director General Vinod Giri said that many states have showed a positive trend through the quarters and added that strong performance in the third and fourth quarters of FY21 ‘reflects the fundamental strength’ in the business. “It also confirms that there is no lasting shift against alcoholic beverages in consumption baskets.” The Confederation listed five states that helped recovery in liquor sales – Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Some states such as West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh witnessed large decline in sales compared to the previous financial year. There is some interesting statistics when it comes to West Bengal. According to economic research agency ICRIER and law consulting firm PLR Chambers, West Bengal ranks second after Uttar Pradesh in terms of absolute number of people who consume alcohol – 1.4 crore. The five southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala together consume as much as 45% of all liquor sold in the country.

Big players bet on recovery in fiscal 2022

Carlsberg’s global chief executive Cees’t Hart said, “Our business had another very volatile year with frequent changes in restrictions. In Asia, the situation is uncertain in a number of markets such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and also Malaysia due to the low level of vaccinations. In India, it’s a bit better. Infection rates are in decline. And there we see the off-trade more or less open to 90-95% and 70% in on-trade.” Beer sales in India grew in double digits in the quarter to June compared to the year-ago figure, but were still nearly half the sales in the pre-Covid corresponding period of 2019. However, Carlsberg’s India business grew 40% year-on-year in the quarter ended June. Similarly, Pernod Ricard, the world’s second largest distiller after Diageo, said it expects some recovery in India in fiscal year 2022. “For this year, we expect a gradual recovery. India was up 9% and was very resilient given the environment, while the underlying consumer-driven trends are clearly there,” said the Chairman of Pernod Ricard, Alexandre Ricard. The ICRIER report shows promise with India among the fastest growing markets for alcoholic beverages globally, with an estimated market size of USD52.5 billion in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% between 2020 and 2023. This indeed is music to the ears and we would like to hear from companies on how they are promoting ‘responsible drinking’.

‘Black Jewel’, Goa’s first Craft Gin

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

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

Hand-picked Junipers

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

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

Superior quality of water in Goa

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

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

Accord steps up premium push with high-end Cognac

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angus Dundee forays into the Indian retail market

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



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

What are the major activities undertaken in the Indian market?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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