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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.”

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

Meet the Eminent Jury of Teacher’s Golden Thistle Awards 2019

Bollywood Superstar Anil Kapoor, Cricketing Legends Harbhajan Singh and Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Dance Icon Geeta Chandran, Amongst Other Celebrities, Part of the Panel of Judges for the Awards

For the first time, superstars and celebrities from all walks of life – from Bollywood to Cricket, from India Inc. to F&B – came together to discuss, debate and short-list the nominees for the Teacher’s Golden Thistle Awards 2019. The winners will be announced on 16th November at an illustrious ceremony in Mumbai.

The iconic platform of Teacher’s Achievement Awards has celebrated the spirit of achievement since 2001 with an illustrious list of winners in the past including Ranbir Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Rahul Dravid, Abhinav Bindra, among others. The long-awaited awards are back in a refreshed avatar as Teacher’s Golden Thistle Awards to recognize and celebrate high-achievers with rare and exemplary achievements across seven categories: Business, Sports, Entertainment, Culture (Culinary Excellence), Genuine Impact (Growing for Good), Forever Genuine (Life Time Achievement) and Teacher’s GQ Special Award. To ensure a fair and thoroughly audited process, Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) was appointed as the Process Validator.



The jury in-charge of making some tough decisions are as follows:



Acclaimed actor and producer, Anil Kapoor has a career that has spanned over 40 years! He is Bollywood royalty and actor par excellence who through discipline and hard work has managed to stay relevant and fit all these years.

A player with equal parts passion and talent, Harbhajan Singh is one of India’s most successful off-spin bowlers. He is a live wire on and off the field and is loved by audiences across the country.

Geeta Chandran is one of the most celebrated classical dancers in India and has been decorated with a Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the country, for her contributions to the field of art. The Bharatanatyam master has also trained a whole generation of artists.

Known as the Indiana Jones of Indian cricket, and rightly so, Krishnamachari Srikkanth is a former captain of the Indian cricket team and former chairman of the BCCI selection committee. His off-pitch personality matches his batting style – entertaining, innovative and explosive.

Manjit Gill is the man behind some of the most iconic restaurants of India – Bukhara and Dum Pukht – that have been delighting foodies for close to 30 years now. The highly acclaimed chef has over four decades of excellence in the culinary profession and has won numerous awards for his work.

While each one of us would have thought of starting a restaurant, some people actually do it and with such success as Farrokh Khambata. He wears many hats – an entrepreneur, restaurateur, chef and caterer – but he has dominated the world of food through his company ‘Catering & Allied’, which owns five restaurants in Mumbai apart from one of the best celebrity catering service.



D. Shiva Kumar is the Group Executive President of Corporate Strategy and Business at Aditya Birla Group. He is helmed as the leader who built Nokia as the most trusted brand in India at one point of time. Known for his inspirational leadership skills, D. Shiva Kumar was awarded ‘Distinguished Alumnus’ by IIT Madras and IIM Calcutta.

Handling finances is not everyone’s cup of tea but not for Nimesh Shah, Managing Director and CEO at ICICI Prudential AMC. With over 25 years in the banking and finance sector, he is known to provide the best solutions for investors while maintaining high levels of transparency.

Known as the man behind the largest events in India, Wiz Joseph Sabbas, Founder of Wizcraft, lends his strategic foresight for all major brand launches and corporate events in India.