For a numero uno beer brand to become a whisky brand is step in the right direction especially if the country is India which is a whisky drinking country.
The world over, whiskey has been seeing a renaissance. Bourbons, Scotch, craft distillations are all riding a wave of popularity among millennials. There has never been a better time to be a whiskey lover. The brown liquor is now more popular, more diverse and, most importantly, more delicious than ever.
The Indian alcohol market has been dominated by darker liquids, with 72% of total spirits’ consumption in the country being whiskey. According to the research report – ‘India Whisky Market Outlook, 2027-28’ – India consumed 237.22 million cases of whiskey in 2021 and the consumption is to reach 289.49 million cases by 2027-28, which would generate revenue of over ₹287000 crores.
In a first, brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev or AB InBev, which has a diverse portfolio of global beer brands, including Budweiser, Corona, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, among others, entered the spirits market in India with the launch of blended American whiskey under its brand Magnum Double Barrel in select markets. The move is part of the company’s Beyond Beer portfolio. It also is in line with its strategy to tap the trend towards premiumisation in the alcoholic beverages market in the country, while keeping consumer centricity at the core.
Artfully curated for the Indian palate but distinctively global in manufacturing craftsmanship, Magnum Double Barrel whiskey is a combination of American corn whiskey aged in white oak barrels in Kentucky and the finest of Indian single malts aged in ex-Bourbon casks, in Goa. The company is sourcing and blending Magnum Double Barrel whiskey in partnership with Sazerac and their Indian subsidiary JDPL; which has resulted in a blend of signature flavours that are silky soft with a malty and complex, creamy finish.
Commenting on the Beyond Beer portfolio and product launch, Vineet Sharma, Vice President Marketing – South Asia, AB InBev said, “Beyond being the 2nd largest spirits’ market in the world (10% of global spirits consumption) and the biggest whiskey market by volume / consumption — India also enjoys the benefits of favourable demographics, trends complimentary to premiumisation, a positive outlook on ease of doing business (EODB), and policy. We see a huge opportunity for premium offerings across the beverage category, in line with our overall premiumisation strategy. For Indian consumers, the attitude towards premiumisation is category agnostic making the country a lucrative ground for innovations across price points and categories. As a consumer-first organisation, we are actively listening to our patrons and tracking trends, behaviours and the launch of American blended whiskey — Magnum Double Barrel — is an effort to energise, reinvigorate the category, adding much-needed newness, fereshness to it. It is a true homage to the collaboration and exchange between continents, countries and cultures. The unique concoction of American corn whiskey with the finest Indian single malt is a first for the Indian audience.”
For most Indian drinkers, whiskey is an aspirational drink and the elemental choice. Widespread up-trading was evident pre-pandemic; 2021 has seen the trend accelerate significantly. As the second-largest importer of Scotch after France, India has the necessary expertise and skill to distil superior quality, globally admired, critically acclaimed liquids and ready audience in the country’s LDA (legal drinking age) + millennial consumers with disposable income that allows them to experiment. Thus, it’s a lucrative market to tap.
Taking us through their distribution strategy, Sharma said, “India is now amongst the top five markets for Budweiser globally and holds steadfast in its position as the country’s fastest growing premium brand. Over the last few years, we have gone from strength-to-strength and have an established distribution network across the nation. At present, Magnum Double Barrel will be available at select alcohol retail outlets, premium pubs, bars and leading restaurants. The plan is to listen, learn and expand.”
The company has already introduced the product in leading alcohol retail outlets in Maharashtra at ₹2,800, Goa at ₹1,800 for a 750ml bottle, and soon will be available in Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
Further revealing the plans to promote the brand, Sharma informed that Magnum Double Barrel’s launch campaign — Make New Happen — delivers on the spirit of innovation and originality. “The objective of the campaign is to liberate whiskey by creatively tapping the cultural nerve of consumers who are rewriting the rules of its consumption and breaking perceptions around it. The communication caters to the ever-evolving, diverse tastes and preferences of consumers above legal drinking age who emphasise savouring their drinks by experimenting with flavours and discovering premium alternatives to classic blends. We also have long-standing relationships with music festivals, events, and allied partners, and we will be sampling across to get feedback from consumers. We really want the unique blend to take center stage and let the product speak for itself. We will continue to spotlight people, places, and passions by expertly crafting experiences for contemporary India,” he added.