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Indian Single Malts Outperform Global Single Malts

Indian single malts have come of age, truly. And they have been savoured in India and elsewhere too. The good news is that in 2023, Indian single malts outperformed global brands, with promise of doing better. According to early estimates by the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) Indian single malts accounted for approximately 53% of total sales in 2023, a very impressive performance considering that Indian single malts are a decade old phenomenon.

As per CIABC estimates out of the total sales of around 675,000 cases of single malts in 2023, Indian-origin makers sold around 345,000 cases and the rest was sold by Scottish and other international brands. Indian brands such as Amrut Fusion; Amrut Kurinji; Rampur Indian Single Malt; Paul John Mithuna; Indri; Kamet; and GianChand have all given the global players a tough competition. The Indian brands have been competing with well established brands such as Glenlivet, Macallan, Lagavulin and Talisker.

Domestic brands grow 23%

In 2022, Scotch brands sold 2,96,000 cases with a 35 % increase in sales, while Indian brands sold about 2,81,000 cases with a 2.4 % increase. With growing popularity, the overtaking by Indian single malts was given. In 2023, the domestic brands have registered a growth of about 23 per cent, compared to 11 % by imported brands.

Indian whiskies have been making global waves too since 2010 when Amrut Fusion got global recognition with Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible ranking it third, after blind tasting of over 4,000 whiskies. In the 2022 International Wine and Spirits Competition, of the 11 awards that came India’s way, four were for single malts.

In sync with premiumisation

The Director General of CIABC, Mr. Vinod Giri said that this has been made possible due to the premiumisation drive that is happening across all segments of the alcohol sector. Indian single malts have upped the game, in terms of quality, presentation and reach, hence the stunning turnaround was expected. Indian distilleries have worked hard to come to this level, matching international brands. CIABC, he mentioned, is working with the Indian players and government agencies to evolve product and process standards that ensure product quality uniformly and consistently.

What is heartwarming is that the Indian consumer, many of whom have travelled globally, knows that Indian brands are making it to the global stage. This endorsement of the ‘Make in India’ products has largely helped sales.

Price-sensitive consumer gravitating towards Indian brands

Hemanth Adapa, founder of Single Malt Amateur Club (SMAC) said “Indian whiskies are riding the third wave of global recognition and success. It is no simple feat that high quality single malt whiskies are being made from scratch in India and repeatedly being featured in the top whiskies of the world. While the awards and ‘expert views are giving the whiskies a thumbs up what is most encouraging is the consumer gravitating towards these. It is an extremely difficult task to convince the price sensitive Indian consumer to reach for an Indian made brand as against a Scotch which has been the mainstay for premium whiskies in India. This has taken a lot of effort by the manufacturers of repute to encourage this transition. While there are other factors to be considered such as the supply chain issues and global shortage of aged Scotch whisky causing many brands to follow an ‘allocation’ strategy towards India, this is no small feat and perhaps the greatest recognition to the quality of these fabulous whiskies.”

Asked whether the short supply of aged Scotch whisky and supply chain issues had led to increased sales of Indian single malts, answered in the negative, adding “This has not been a flash in the pan for it to be short lived. There are many risks around the governance and quality control of the newly formed category of Indian single malts which is very similar to the challenges in the Japanese whiskies but surely not a doubt around the whiskies being recognised today.”

Amrut started it all

The fact that brands such as Amrut and others have been performing consistently is testimony to the popularity of Indian single malts, not just in India, elsewhere too. One cannot forget what Jim Murray the legendary whisky critic of the world had said in 2010 that “Amrut Fusion, whisky from India, can only be a dream of many Scottish distilleries.” Prior to that, Indian whisky was not even considered as a whisky as it was only producing molasses-based whisky. ‘Amrut Fusion’ changed that as it is made of 80 per cent Indian malted barley and 20 % Scottish peated barley.

In 2022, Amrut which soared by 183 % dethroned Pernod’s Glenlivet which grew by 39 %, according to Euromonitor data. In 2022, two Amrut offerings topped the list, much more sales than Glenlivet, followed by Paul John. Amrut Fusion sold 99,000 cases and Amrut Amalgam 94,000, Solan Gold 20,00 and Rampur 10,000 cases.

Global players go local

Such impressive sales have led to global players in India to start Indian brands such Godawan from the stables of Diageo in 2022. Godawan the artisanal single malt whisky is finished in special casks selectively curated with Indian botanicals. In 2023 Pernod launched Longitude 77, its first Indian single malt with plans to export to the UAE and later to other markets. Further endorsement has come India’s way from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) which said that India has overtaken France to become the largest market for whisky sales by volume and single malts are also contributing significantly.

Awards galore

From 2010 onwards, Indian single malts have been cornering global awards at regular intervals. The latest is Radico Khaitan’s Rampur Asava Indian Single Malt Whisky which bagged the ‘Best World Whisky’ at the prestigious John Barleycorn Awards. Rampur’s innovative approach to the ageing process distinguishes it from other world whiskies. The Himalayas provide polar opposite climate conditions throughout the year with the flavour of the famous Indian Summer giving Rampur an added dimension and depth. The malt interacts extensively with the cask, resulting in maturation almost four times faster than in Scotland.

Sanjeev Banga, President of International Business at Radico Khaitan Ltd, and the creator of the iconic Rampur range of whiskies says, “Our position as possibly the only Indian company in the industry with products such as Rampur Indian Single Malt Whisky, Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin and Sangam World Malt Whisky in the super-luxury space, alongside international alcohol companies is testament to their quality. The global availability of our products, coupled with the admiration and recommendations from top experts including this latest achievement in the John Barleycorn Awards, stands as proof of our unwavering commitment to product quality and consumer satisfaction.” Banga further added that Rampur Asava will soon be available for Whisky aficionados in the Indian domestic market.

In emphasising the global significance of Indian whisky, Kunal Madan, Vice President of International Business at Radico Khaitan added, “India commands a staggering 48 % share of the global whisky market. While the majority stays within our borders, the efforts of producers like us have successfully introduced our exceptional Indian whiskies to markets such as the US and UK. In a landscape dominated by only a handful of Indian whiskies, Rampur has earned its place as one of the most highly regarded brands. This recognition reinforces the impact of our journey, guided by quality and innovation, beyond national borders.”

Another Indian single malt to walk away with another prestigious award is the Indri Diwali Collector’s Edition which won the ‘Double Gold Best in Show’ at the 2023 Whiskies of the World Awards, beating over 100 other varieties including scotch, bourbon and British single malts. Indri, the peated Indian single malt whisky is a product of the Haryana-based Piccadilly Distilleries, launched in 2021.

“The industry can offer much more and consumers want much more as well. This growing appetite for experimentation could translate into a brighter future for the Indian spirits market, beyond the projected flatline of 2024,” Vinod Giri added.

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.

Pernod Ricard India Launches Longitude 77, a New Indian Single Malt

Pernod Ricard India has entered the Indian Single Malt category with the introduction of Longitude 77, marking three decades of the company’s presence in India. The move reflects the increasing popularity of premium Indian spirits, with Longitude 77 aiming to pay homage to India’s rich heritage, craftsmanship, culture, landscape, and terroir.

Named after the line of longitude that runs through the length of India at 77° East, the brand seeks to symbolize India’s position on the world map. The launch event was recently held at DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurugram, showcased what was termed a ‘Reimagined India’, which was led by Arjun Rampal. The evening also featured contemporary Indian luxury elements, including a presentation of Indian soundscapes by musician Karsh Kale, a fashion showcase by designer Ashish Soni, and a culinary exploration by Chef Vicky Ratnani.

Produced in small batches in a distillery in Dindori, Nashik, Longitude 77 brings together locally sourced ingredients with a double-matured single malt is aged in American Bourbon barrels and wine casks, presenting a mahogany colour and a flavour profile described as smooth, full-bodied, and balanced, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and faint peat smoke.

The packaging of Longitude 77 features an indigo-coloured matte finish box and bottle, paying homage to the colour that India gave to the world. Both the box and the bottle depict the map of India with the Longitude 77° passing through, symbolizing the essence of the country.

Longitude 77 Bottle and Packaging

Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard India, said, “As we celebrate 30 incredible years in India, our commitment to delivering quality brands and experiences gets enhanced with the launch of Longitude 77. Inspired by the line that runs through the heart and soul of India, Longitude 77 is a symbol of authentic contemporary Indian luxury. Our Master Distiller has carefully crafted an exquisite liquid to celebrate and showcase India’s rich culture, heritage, terroir and craftsmanship. We believe that Longitude 77 will give the world a taste of “India Reimagined”. We are confident that this exceptional addition to our portfolio will be embraced by whisky enthusiasts across the world and elevate their convivial experience.”

Longitude 77 Master Distiller, R Natrajan shared, “It is an exciting time for Indian single malts as whisky enthusiasts discover the beauty of home-grown spirits. Longitude 77 is an Indian single malt that’s proud of its provenance, crafted with utmost care and attention. Produced in small batches, it seeks to represent the best of India’s rich terroir and local ingredients. The liquid has been double matured and brought to perfection in American Bourbon barrels and wine casks. The result is an exquisite, full bodied single malt with notes of caramel, vanilla, and subtle peat smoke. Longitude 77 is more than just a single malt; it is our homage to the enchanting spirit of India.” 

The launch event also had a sipping experience of the whisky, featuring serves celebrating unique Indian ingredients with Geographical Indication (GI) tags. Currently the malt is available in selected regions, including Goa, Maharashtra, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi Duty Free, the brand aims to expand its presence in other markets, targeting a premium convivial experience for Indian whisky drinkers.

Heineken’s Five Star Experience

With millennials leaning towards fresher and lighter tipple, Heineken recently launched their Heineken Silver Draught beer in Maharashtra with the aim to make it available in other States soon. In an effort to educate the industry and the consumer, they also hosted a Star Serve programme that teaches the five steps on how their fresh draught beer should be served. Jacqueline Van Faassen, Head of International Premium Portfolio, Heineken India spoke to Bhavya Desai and Vincent Fernandes about the launch and plans moving forward. Excerpts:

The launch of the Heineken Silver Draught beer marks an important milestone for both, Heineken and United Breweries, who’ve been in India together since 2019. But while Heineken is a popular premium beer amongst the consumers, Van Fassen felt that the company was still missing on the draught experience, considering the trend where younger consumers are looking for a more fresher and lighter beer.

Heineken’s Global Draught Master, Frank Evers demonstrating the Five Star Serve Experience

The beer is already popular and available in the global markets and gets its freshness from utilizing natural ingredients like its A-yeast and 100% malt. And the brand is hoping to have similar success with the product in India as well.

Hence they launched the new Heineken Silver Draught beer with the initial launch market as Mumbai, Thane and Pune, which will be supplied from their Taloja factory with an aim to expand to the other States soon, most likely Karnataka once the draught is started brewing there. Apart from Taloja where most of the Heineken beer is manufactured, the company also has brewing plants in Telangana with development underway for another brewery in Mysore, Karnataka.

But what’s interesting is that Heineken is not only looking to capitalise on their new product but also are making efforts to educate the bartenders on how to serve the beer, thereby hoping to educate the consumer touchpoints and the industry as a whole. “This week we educate 400 bartenders on how to pour Heineken draft beer. This includes 200 today in Mumbai and another 200 bartenders in Pune later this week. They are important stakeholders for us since they make sure that bring it to consumers in the best way,” says Jacqueline.

The training programme was led by Heineken’s Global Draught Master, Frank Evers, which includes the five step serve process to give the consumers the best experience of the tipple. The steps include cleaning the glass with cold water, pouring it at a 45-degree angle with the right amount of foam and finally skimming the extra foam off. The foam protects the CO2 keeping the oxygen out making the beer fresh for a longer time says Evers. What’s also unique to the beer is its brewing process, which is horizontally fermented  as compared to the other lager beers which are brewed vertically.

But while serving the beer at the right temperature and with the steps seem interesting, whether the end consumer on-trade is really partaking at these points remains to be seen. But Van Fassen is confident that with the programme and efforts to educate the bartenders, once the consumers are served the beer correctly, they will identify with the quality and freshness of the product. Jacqueline is also aware of the potential of the draught beer category as a whole with a huge market that can be tapped on. She also states that the plans are that unleash the draught beer across India as soon as possible. And to do that they are focusing on activities like partnering with popular sports events like Champions League football. Recently the brand also hosted the F1 races across bars in Mumbai to further build on that social recall.

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.

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.”

Two Indies Rum Review

The rum market is experiencing significant growth, but have you ever tried rum made from jiggery? In this article, we will delve into a review of Two Indies Rum, crafted by Amrut Distilleries, the renowned Indian whisky maker known for putting Indian whiskies on the global stage. Interestingly, Amrut doesn’t just produce Two Indies Rum; they also offer another exceptional rum called Old Port Deluxe Matured Rum. However, our focus today is solely on Two Indies Rum, especially as the winter season approaches, making it the ideal time to explore quality rums. This spirit is priced at ₹1,700 in Mumbai, ₹2,200 in Bangalore, and a wallet-friendly ₹850 in Goa. Furthermore, it’s readily available in numerous states.

Why the name?

The Two Indies Rum was actually conceptualised by the now late CMD Shri Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, wherein he was keen to bring a fusion of two rums, a concept that Amrut has also brought to its whiskey’s. The rum is a tribute to India, its farmers and also to the West Indies, which is where Rum originated from. And because this is blended with matured rums that come from these two countries, it got its name ‘Two Indies Rum’. This rum has won a few international awards and also won the Ambrosia Award for the best premium rum in 2021.

Blend

This rum has an interesting and unique story when it comes to its blend. It uses Caribbean rum, specifically from Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana, which are sent to the Amrut distillery unit in Kambipura, Bangalore where it is mixed and blended with Indian rum, aged about 3 years or less. Also this is made from ‘jaggery’. This approach is pretty different from most manufacturers making rum. For instance, you have rums that are made from molasses, which is used in this also btw. Then you have rum made from cane juices, which is a popular concept. But jaggery is used in making most Indian sweets. So in this case that is the unique blend, which might make this sweet and perhaps this is the only rum in the world that is made out of jaggery.

The Spirit is distilled in both pot and column spirit stills such that the natural congeners of molasses are retained and then skilfully blended after maturation in select oak wood barrels that give a dash of sweetish oakiness on the palate. The rum is made by blending it with molasses ENA and no artificial flavouring has been added, although the bottle says that permitted colours are.

Packaging

It’s a nice looking bottle, at first glance the bottle actually reminds me of the Gianchand Indian Single Malt, of course Two Indies Rum was launched before that. This is also its new packaging and new avatar, which came in 2020. Earlier this use to come in a different bottle. This is a rum like bottle and the words Rhum-Ron are written since the Caribbean’s has the influence of both French as well as Spanish former colonies. It has 42.8% ABV and the bottle is nice and sleek.

Nosing

Coming to the nosing, you’ll notice a sweet scent, and it’s pretty strong at 42.8% alcohol. There’s also a hint of nuttiness in the background, but you might need to take a closer sniff to pick it up because the overall dominant aroma is sweetness with some spice notes.

Tasting

The rum has a nice taste – it’s not too mild or too strong. It’s just right, and it gives you a nice kick of flavour without being too much strong. When you sip it, the taste sticks around, and you can feel a bit of spiciness in your mouth. At first, you might notice a bit of banana flavour, kind of like when you eat the skin of a banana. It also makes your throat feel a little dry, which means it’s a dry drink. There’s also a tiny hint of saltiness, like the taste of nuts with a pinch of salt, but it’s not too strong. One cool thing about this drink is that it starts with a bit of sweetness from the wood it’s made from, like oak. The sweetness starts small and then gets spicier, so it changes as you sip it, and that’s what makes it interesting.

Conclusion

What do we think about Two Indies Rum? Well, let’s talk about rum and how people feel about it. Just like with whiskey or vodka, many people usually have their favourite brands. Some people prefer Old Monk, while others like a stronger taste, especially in the winter. But Two Indies Rum is a bit different. It’s like those fancy single malt whiskeys – it’s an acquired taste. It might not be the rum for everyone, especially if you’re used to regular, mass-produced rums. But if you’re a rum enthusiast and appreciate high-quality products, you should definitely give Two Indies a try.

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.