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Greater Than Gin, yes, what can be?

In the last couple of years, there has been a count of nearly 15 new gins entering the market, reviving the gin spirit, so to say. Of that 11 are from Goa. “It started off as a fluke as we decided that Goa had the best bottling partners for us. Since then, it seems quite a few others have taken that to be the precedent set and got to work,” that is Anand Virmani, the founder of Nao Spirits, manufacturers of Greater Than and Hapusa – premium crafted gins that are making waves in the markets available.

Virmani has his own take on how the crafted gin segment is evolving. He believes that Goa is not any more liberal than many other states in the country when it comes to excise policies. He dismisses it as a factor for launching Greater Than in Goa. Similarly, for the availability of botanicals, he states that the main ingredient for gin has to be either imported our sourced from the Himalayas in the north and that Goa is no different than any other part of the country when it comes to sourcing botanicals. As regards to water quality which Goa touts about, he is of the view that since all water in the production process has to be demineralised, the oriGinal water quality should not really matter.

But when it comes to Goa as the watering hole, he believes so that it is a great marketing tool. “The spirit of trying out new things is certainly important, especially since so many tourists come to Goa and take back gin bottles with them.”

Ambrosia: What is the reason for resurgence of gin which had taken a beating when vodka entered the Indian market?

Virmani: Vodka did this to gin in the 1950s globally. Gin has come back primarily because of the resurgence of cocktail bars which propagate classic cocktails, many of which just happen to use gin as their base. Ambrosia: There is a talk about uniqueness of the botanicals that goes into gin making. From a consumer perspective, what does botanicals signify?Virmani: Botanicals are what separate one gin from another. They are the main flavour components in any gin. Also, only high quality gins like ours use actual botanicals as opposed to artificial flavouring used by the cheaper, cold-compounded gins.

Ambrosia: What kind of growth are you seeing in the overall Gin market in India?

Virmani: The premium+ gin market in India (which excludes the low-end mass produced gins) are growing phenomenally well; easily around 30%+ CAGR. Ambrosia: We see a lot of premium brands being launched, is it because they are not meant for the masses?Virmani: Craft gin can only ever be premium. A low-priced gin, will not ever be a craft product. Even so, we aim to make our gins as accessible as possible.

Ambrosia: Could you tell us about the spark that led to the creation of Greater Than?

Virmani: The spark was quite simply the growing disbelief that India was not able to produce a single brand of gin that we could proudly call our own. It did not make sense to us, especially since India was the birthplace of the Gin & Tonic as well as the heart of the world spice trade.

Ambrosia: Which are the markets it is presently available now and what are your expansion plans?

Virmani: Our gins are present in seven different states across India currently as well as in over 15 countries outside India. We continue to grow as far and wide as we can without over-stretching ourselves. Assam has been our newest addition within India while New Zealand has become our most recent export market to come online.

Ambrosia: How is Hapusa different from Greater Than?

Virmani: Hapusa is a very small batch produced gin. It is primarily made with Himalayan juniper along with other botanicals found and sourced from across the country.

Ambrosia: Which are the markets it is present in – how do the two compete with each other – what is the USP of both?

Virmani: Greater Than is a classic London Dry Gin and is ideal for making cocktails or Gin & Tonics. Hapusa however, is far more characteristic and best enjoyed as a sipping gin or included in stirred cocktails like the Negroni or Martini.

Ambrosia: What next from ‘Nao Spirits’?

Virmani: Lots more

Stranger & Sons eyeing top bars of the world

Craft brands in India are currently redefining the perception of premiumness. It is now much more about authenticity, craftsmanship and embracing innovation to produce something uniquely groundbreaking. Today, we see a lot of Indian consumers are excited to try a good homegrown product without it being a compromise and brands like ours are able to communicate and ensure our high quality standards. Moreover, with India’s growing cocktail culture, we see that a lot of Indian consumers are open to trying new, atypical cocktails as well as local, homegrown products which have indeed contributed to the rise of craft producers in the country. That is Sakshi Saigal, the co-founder and director of Stranger & Sons. In an email interview, she maps the journey of crafted gin which has just embarked upon an exciting phase of spirits in India.

Ambrosia: Could you tell us about the spark that led to the creation of Stranger & Sons?

Saigal: It goes without saying that we individually are not just cocktail enthusiasts, but also had access to observe the beGinnings of the Gin Revolution first hand. I was working towards my MBA in Barcelona, while Vidur was studying in the UK and Rahul had just set up his craft brewery in Mumbai. While we were tasting and drinking a variety of gins every day – whether in London’s cocktail bars or the Gin Tonics of Barcelona, we were getting well acquainted with the gin landscape. That’s when it piqued our interest as to why India wasn’t up to speed with gin although gin manufacturers all over the world looked to India when it came to sourcing botanicals and we kept encountering brands based on a vision of India that we knew very well had never been a reality. This made us question why products with these botanicals are made everywhere but here. To add to this, there wasn’t any other quality homegrown product then that was conveying the story from our perspective; so we decided to change that and embarked into a lot of research before setting up Third Eye Distillery.

Ambrosia: Could you give us insights into the growth journey of Stranger & Sons?

Saigal: It’s honestly been a phenomenal experience so far! Right from the start, we wanted to build a truly Indian gin that would stand out on the shelves of top bars in the world but fit in just as well in the colourful and vibrant bars in Panjim. Made from inherently Indian botanicals, Stranger & Sons Gin captures the essence of contemporary India in every bottle for a curious and discerning consumer. What makes Stranger & Sons interesting is how we celebrate our diverse, unique and complicated history while recognising India in its current context instead of the stereotypical version with just palaces, elephants, and so on. Embracing this wonderful strangeness inherent in the contemporary India we live in today through our gin allows consumers to connect with the story and the brand in a very organic manner. Creating this emotional connection with our audience has always been at the core of our thought process and that’s where we believe that it’s not just what our gin is made of that matters, but what it represents.

Starting out as a home-grown gin brand from Goa to being declared one of the 8 best gins in the world by the International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2020, to winning the highest honours at The Asian Spirit Masters 2021, we’ve managed to put Indian gin on the world map and continue to work towards showcasing India’s diversity to the rest of the world! We’ve had an action-packed and eventful journey so far and the terrific response we get from our consumers at our international and domestic events is backed by an exciting, entrepreneurial team, all of whom feel very strongly about the brand. With regard to sales, we sold 25,000 nine litre cases in our first full year of operations, which was extremely exciting for us and was mainly attributed to being available in just two Indian cities and one international market. This year, despite the pandemic, we will be focussing on domestic and international expansion.

Ambrosia: How much has the pandemic hit production?

Saigal: Being absolutely aware that it has been an extremely tough phase for the hospitality industry and brands including ours, thanks to our team’s sheer creativity and persistence, we never lost sight of our consumers, favourite bars and bartenders. During the pandemic, we launched ‘Strange Times’ bottled cocktails in Singapore as an initiative to support the trade, made in collaboration with some of the best bars there to help keep the spirits up amidst the pandemic. We also got selected as the first Indian brand for the Craft Gin Club and shipped bottles to over 70,000 homes across the UK. During the lockdown, we launched India’s first distilled cocktail with local, seasonal pink guavas – Perry Road Peru, in collaboration with The Bombay Canteen, a high-end Indian restaurant which was a massive success in the market! Regardless of the digital shift, we continue to prioritise innovation, crafting immersive experiences and strengthening our relationships with consumers and trade alike.

Ambrosia: Which markets are you present in and what are your expansion plans?

Saigal: We launched Stranger & Sons from the shores of Goa and expanded to Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka and Rajasthan within India and UK, Singapore, Thailand and the UAE, internationally. We will indeed be exploring various domestic markets including Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and more. In terms of international expansion, we look forward to increasing our global footprint through our upcoming launches in Australia, Mauritius and more, very soon. Each new market brings a unique, diverse consumer base which makes the experience, well, let’s just say thrilling!

Ambrosia: What are the challenges – regulatory and distribution network – faced in India?

Saigal: In the spirits world, India has always been known for the sheer volume of alcohol we produce over anything else. The distilleries here are mostly large-scale, daunting structures and it’s difficult to contract distill small quantities here which is often a great way for craft distillers to beGin their journey. Adding to the challenge, India follows a federal system of laws and when it comes to alcohol and so, the guidelines and regulations vary across states in India. Access to good quality equipment and adequate space also pose a challenge, particularly once companies start expanding.

Ambrosia: Tell us about the botanicals that make your gin unique?

Saigal: Indian botanicals and spices that are indispensable to every Indian household and form the backbone of India’s culinary heritage. Among India’s most fertile states, Goa was a natural choice for us for its lush expanse of spice farms. The mace, cassia bark, licorice, black pepper and nutmeg that perfume our gin are sourced from spice farms surrounding our distillery making Goa the beating heart of our narrative. Our unique citrus peel mix of Indian Bergamot, Nimbu (Indian Limes), Nagpur Oranges & Gondhoraj have also been put together to represent different parts of our country and each of these citrus’ are extremely integral to the region they represent and make their way into local cuisine, juices, pickles, jams, preserves and more. By making use of all the wonderful spices available to us, we built a three-dimensional Gin that is proudly Indian and true to its oriGin. Our signature serves include fresh, flavourful Gimlets & aromatic, layered Gibsons which are also homage to India’s pickling and cordialling culture.

Ambrosia: What next?

Saigal: Third Eye Distillery was never built as a one-product-company right from the get go. There doesn’t go a day when someone from the team isn’t trying to answer this same question and one up the other. There are so many things that we’re working on at the moment when it comes to innovation and new product releases, no thought goes untested and no idea wins without a fight! We are also constantly trying to do our bit to make our distillery more responsible and sustainable while exploring new extensions and experimenting with various ideas. The one thing we know for sure, whichever product we release next, it won’t just be another bottle on the shelf, but will truly be adding to the conversation and be integral to taking our cocktail culture to the next step.

ASCI bans surrogate advertising in IPL

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) banned surrogate advertising of liquor during India’s showstopper event – Indian Premier League 2021 which however, got truncated, due to some players and franchise staff testing positive. Talks are on to hold the unfinished spectacle in the United Arab Emirates, like it did in 2020 without crowd attendance, to be viewed on a broadcast platform.

It was during 2020 IPL that surrogate advertising was active on television and digital medium, particularly OTT (over the top), the latter in the absence of clear guidelines. “The IPL broadcaster for TV has confirmed to the ASCI that all advertisements are checked for CBFC clearance so that they are not in violation of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 (CTNR). Keeping that in mind, the ASCI processed complaints on advertisements appearing in OTT, digital and print media,” ASCI said. The association suo motu took up 14 complaints and some of the advertisers withdrew the ads.

Brand extensions have some leeway

The CTNR rules prohibited the direct or indirect advertising of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants in 2009. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry, however, allowed advertisements of products even if they shared a brand name with a liquor or tobacco product so long as it wasn’t a manifestation of the prohibited product. Advertisement of brand extensions of liquor and tobacco products is permitted under CTNR, provided the product sold under the brand extension does not make direct or indirect references to the prohibited product, it is distributed in reasonable quantity and is available in a substantial number of outlets, and the proposed expenditure on the advertisement of the brand extension product is not disproportionate to the actual sales turnover of that product.

ASCI guidelines for brand extensions

The Advertising Standards Council has ‘Guidelines for qualification of brand extension product or service’ wherein for an advertisement to qualify as a genuine brand extension advertisement (by implication, not surrogate), the in-store availability of the product sold must be at least 10% of the leading brand in the product category or sales turnover of the product must exceed `5 crores annually or `1 crore in the state where the product is distributed.

Age-old question, whether to allow liquor advertising or not?

However, the question that keeps raking up is an age-old issue – whether to allow liquor advertising / surrogate advertising or not? And the topic is universal leading to unending debates. Across continents, there are countries where liquor advertising is allowed and then there are as many countries that have banned / restricted advertising of alcoholic beverages. In the United States, spirits advertising has self-regulatory bodies that create standards for the ethical advertising of alcohol. In the UK, advertising for alcoholic drinks follows a code enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, while the packaging and branding of the products is subject to self-regulation. In Thailand, alcohol advertisements are allowed but with a warning message. In South Korea, public advertising is allowed only after 10 p.m. In the Philippines, alcohol advertising comes with a disclaimer ‘Drink Responsibly’. In India, liquor advertising was banned after the Ministry of Health found that cigarettes and liquor had adverse effects on a person’s health. However, advertisements for liquor brand extensions can run on television only if they have a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification. That led to the companies (manufacturers and also advertising agencies) becoming innovative with ‘surrogate advertising’ wherein unrelated products with the same brand name is manufactured / advertised and sold, only to ensure that the liquor brand name stays right on top of consumers’ minds. Unrelated products include mineral water, music CDs, soda, sports accessories and anything that can be advertised.

Active on digital media

The question here is when liquor companies are active on social media which is a major influencer, an indisputable force and not to mention its enormous reach, the whole idea of banning on OTT and television smacks of hypocrisy. It is indeed paradoxical that excise which is one of the top revenue earners for most states, going up to 15 % of the overall revenues, is not allowed to be promoted. There is a school of thought that believes if a product is allowed to be manufactured and sold, it should be allowed to be advertised, but that is over simplification as it will certainly be like opening up the Pandora’s Box.Gokul Krishnamoorthy who worked with an agency that handled United Breweries in an opinionated article in the Financial Express says “While ASCI banning surrogate ads by liquor brands during the curtailed IPL 2021 was a welcome move, it prompted a question in many minds. What explains the existence of a team called ‘Royal Challengers Bangalore’? One can’t help but remember that the current captain of the team Virat Kohli is idolised by a young boy in a health beverage commercial, among many others. Royal Challenge is a brand of whisky owned by United Spirits, which also owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team. If scale of presence, volume of advertising, market share and the likes are the key metrics by which one decides whether or not an alcohol brand can advertise its extension, then Royal Challengers Bangalore has no problem at all.” He goes on to add “The only seeming solution then, albeit rather simplistic and overarching, is that if a brand is present in a category where promotion is banned, it should not be allowed to promote itself in any context. It should be denied the right to promotion, whether for its shared corporate brand, for its extension, for its event, for its cricket team or whatever else.” Since such conundrums exist, there are those who feel that we need to shed this hypocrisy and accept that people do drink and reaching them is a legitimate part of a company’s business plans. The companies should be allowed to promote safe, moderate and responsible drinking. In states where there is prohibition this issue does not crop up at all. With digital media coming into play, some players have been advertising brand extensions as the CTNR does not apply to advertisements over the internet. This is changing as we have seen the government bringing social media under control. The digital medium is pretty nascent and governments are grappling with policies to rein in the medium. Indian liquor companies have been using social media to promote their brands. The UB Group recently tied up with a digital content company which produced a web series titled ‘Pitchers’, a five-part series on four friends trying to launch a start-up. With over 10 million viewers, the show got a rating of 9.7 out of 10 on internet movie database website, making the new concept of advertising, going beyond surrogate advertising. As rules become stricter, liquor brands will look at different channels – events, experiential, branded content and in-film, like ‘Pitchers’. As manufacturers need to advertise, one way or the other as to get their products sold, they have been innovative in how to get the message across.

Canned alcoholic beverages market size worth $13.4 billion by 2028

The global canned alcoholic beverages market size is expected to reach USD 13.4 billion by 2028, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. The market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 13.3% from 2021 to 2028. Canned alcoholic beverages are gaining popularity among consumers since cans are more convenient, portable, and travel-friendly. Moreover, these metal cans are less expensive as compared to glass bottles and have a considerably higher recycling rate than glass.

In Asia Pacific, the market is expected to witness a CAGR of 13.9% from 2021 to 2028. The major factor driving the market in the region is the presence of young consumers and rapidly growing economies.
The wine segment is projected to register the fastest CAGR of 13.7% from 2021 to 2028. The rising awareness among consumers for more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bottles coupled with the growing taste for convenient products is propelling the demand for canned wine.


The online segment is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 13.6% from 2021 to 2028. The hassle-free shopping experience offered by various online platforms is expected to drive the growth of the segment.


The hand seltzers segment held the largest revenue share in 2020 and is expected to maintain its dominance over the forecast period. Hard seltzers are carbonated water-based drinks, which are usually infused with fruits and spirits. These have become quite popular among millennials due to their low alcohol content. Low prices of hard seltzer, easy availability across supermarkets and convenience stores are factors anticipated to boost their sales in the upcoming years.


The liquor stores segment contributed a majority of the share to become the largest division in the global revenue in 2020. These stores have been a widespread and well-established distribution channel for canned alcoholic beverages. The wide availability of both premium and private label brands at these stores attract consumers to purchase products through these channels.


In addition, a report published by Fior Markets claims the global functional beverages market is expected to grow from $125.39 billion in 2020 to $216.7 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 7.08% during the forecast period 2021-2028.


Functional beverages are liquids that often contain a health claim and are used to hydrate the body and maintain nutritional balance. On the basis of type, the global functional beverages market is segmented into drinks, energy drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, herbal and fruit teas, fortified water, rehydration solutions, dairy beverages, non-dairy beverages and others.


The energy drinks segment dominated the market and held the largest market share of 20.9% in the year 2020. This growth is attributed to the rising adoption of energy drinks and the increase in reliance on them for instant energy amongst an increasingly busy population.


The market is booming and there’s already a large number of brands. Some popular drinks include Tequila Cazadores RTDs, Onda Sparkling Tequila, Miami Cocktail Co., Dogfish Head RTDs, St. Agrestis Spritz, and Lunar Tamarind & Rice Paddy Herb.

Tequila Cazadores RTDs
These ready-to-drink (RTD) tequila cocktails are available in Margarita, Spicy Margarita and Paloma flavours and continue the trend of tequila RTDs outshining almost all other canned drinks.


Onda Sparkling Tequila
The best designed of the tequila RTDs, this sparkling beverage (which features actress Shay Mitchell as the “Chief Brand Officer”) just launched two new flavours, Watermelon and an incredibly refreshing Blood Orange. Fizzy, light and citrusy.

Miami Cocktail Co.
While this RTD brand flashes a lot of healthy catchphrases (vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, “clean calorie”) their organic spritzes should appeal to anyone. Ridiculously great in hot weather, the brand offers everything from Rosé Bellini Spritz to a Grapefruit & Hibiscus Paloma Spritz.

Dogfish Head RTDs
It turns out it takes a brewery (and distillery) to finally make a good vodka soda. The Blueberry Shrub RTD here is light but flavourful. And brown spirits fans: The Cherry Bergamot Whiskey Sour is the rare summer-ready whiskey drink.

 

St. Agrestis Spritz

The Spritz however, is a refreshing, herbal/citrus combo of the St. Agrestis Paradiso Aperitivo, sparkling Italian wine and sparkling water.

Lunar Tamarind & Rice Paddy Herb
Described as the “first and only Asian American craft hard seltzer made with real, premium fruits and ingredients from Asia,” the brand just launched a limited-edition “Heritage” line that pays tribute to well-known Asian foods and is co-developed with New York-based chefs and owners of popular local restaurants. The Tamarind & Rice Paddy Herb release will be unlike any canned drink you’ll try now … and portends a promising and innovative future for the category.


Beverage Cans Market size is estimated to reach $17.24bn by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 4.9% during the forecast period 2020-2025. Beverage cans are the metal containers that are used to store liquid drinks like alcoholic beverages, carbonated soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, energy or sports drinks and others. These cans are usually made of aluminum and steel. The increased demand for the alcohol beverage which is to be stored at low temperatures is driving the usage of this beverage cans as they help in storing the drinks at low temperatures which helps to hold the taste and properties of drinks. The rise in health concerns among the people to avoid plastic containers as they are harmful and non-bio-degradable is driving the usage of beverage cans market during the forecast period 2020-2025.


The global Beverage Cans Market based on Material type has Aluminum and Steel. The Aluminum segment registers for the highest market share in 2019 and is set to continue for the forecast period 2020-2025, owing to the increased usage of aluminum in making beverages cans. Overs 70% of beverage cans are made of aluminum globally. Aluminum cans are easily recycled with properties like lightweight and easy to manufacture, transport and are economical. Having many advantages over other materials is driving the market of aluminum beverage cans during the forecast period 2020-2025. The steel beverage cans are having below-average growth as they are heavy and is set to react with beverages in those cans, however, cans made with a composition of steel and other material are being introduced into the market to decrease the cost of beverage cans.
Based on geography the global Beverage Cans Market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the World. North America had a dominant share in terms of revenue in 2019 and it holds the largest market share during the forecast period 2020-2025, owing to the availability of the high number of consumers of aluminum can stored beverages. The Asia-Pacific region is also set to have healthy growth during the forecast period 2020-2025, owing to the availability of a large population and increased consumption of beverages. The availability of large raw materials like aluminum and steel are also factors that are supporting the growth of the market in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beverage Cans Market Drivers
Increased consumption of beverages
The increase in the consumption of beverages globally is driving the demand for beverage cans. Increased promotional activities by different manufacturers of beverages to increase demand for drinks are driving the usage of beverage cans owing to increased sales of beverages. Beverage cans being eco-friendly, recyclable and lightweight are driving the market growth during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Beverage Cans Market Challenges
Fluctuation in the cost of raw materials
The fluctuations in the cost of raw material are challenging the production of the beverage cans. The defects in three-piece type cans, such as leaks, inability to withstand high pressures and temperatures are challenging the market during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Opportunities for beer in 2021 & beyond

Beer suffered quite heavily during 2020, primarily due to its reliance on the on-premise. Beer markets in Italy, the UK and Colombia were amongst those particularly hard hit due to lockdown restrictions. Traditional inbound tourism hubs continue to hurt. Some brewers also faced legislative issues, notably full bans on the sale of alcohol in South Africa and India, and a ban on domestic brewing in Mexico. Changes in consumer purchasing behaviour in the off-premise, such as a tendency to purchase multi-packs and less time spent browsing, meant some players had to adapt to new packaging offerings and/or new distribution channels as well. Overall, the industry will likely see an approximate 9% decline in beer consumption across 19 key markets (2019 to 2020). Amidst the challenges, however, there are bright spots:

Market recovery

IWSR research shows that some beer markets will emerge from 2020 relatively unscathed: beer proved remarkably resilient in Japan, for example, especially in the face of a strongly-advancing ready-to-drink (RTD) category. Although beer in China will see an approximately 7% loss in volume in 2020, the decline is not as bad as many feared it could be, primarily as restrictions had largely been lifted by the key summer months. Looking forward, developing markets will continue to provide growth opportunities for brewers. Even before Covid-19, many developed beer markets had stagnated in recent years. Key players have invested heavily in increasing their brewing capability and distribution networks across developing markets. Africa has been a particular focal point for investment, with new breweries opened in countries including Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia. In Asia, Heineken and Carlsberg have been very active in Vietnam and Cambodia. In 2019, Heineken enjoyed success with the launch of Heineken Silver in Vietnam, while Carlsberg’s relaunch of Huda was also well received. Of the leading markets, IWSR projects these two countries to be in the top ten growth markets between 2019 and 2024. The potential for beer growth in India is strong as well. AB InBev, for example, began brewing Budweiser in the market back in 2010. In January 2021, Kirin Holdings announced an investment of $30 million in New Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the maker of the Indian craft beer Bira. IWSR anticipates beer consumption in India to return to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of 2023, continuing on its growth path from there.

Expanding beyond beer

As consumers moved to the at-home occasion, the trend for convenience has helped to shape purchasing behaviours. In markets such as the US, the ready-to-drink (RTD) category, which includes hard seltzers, has been taking share from beer. RTDs provide a growing opportunity for brewers to diversify their product portfolios. Indeed, Heineken entered the hard seltzer category in September 2020, with the launch of Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand. In the US, Heineken partnered with AriZona to launch the AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer in October 2020. AB InBev states that Bud Light Seltzer is their leading innovation in the US market, with over 75% of volume being incremental to their portfolio. In fact, 2021 was the first year in which a hard seltzer commercial (Bud Light Seltzer) aired during the Super Bowl. Malt-based RTDs are currently dominant in the US owing to their taxation base, and brewers there are in prime position to take advantage. Elsewhere, the alcohol base of choice varies by country, driven by consumer preference and local alcohol tax structures.

Changes in purchasing behaviour propel e-commerce

As with the wider beverage alcohol industry, Covid-19 has propelled the value of the alcohol e-commerce channel. Heineken, for example, reported that Beerwulf, its direct-to-consumer platform in Europe, nearly doubled its revenues in 2020, while in the UK, its revenues tripled. Online sales of its home-draught systems grew as well. Beer has traditionally under-traded online, primarily due to the channel offering lower margins. However, this will change as consumers continue to buy more groceries online and beer is included in the weekly shop. This is especially true in the US, where IWSR expects sales of online beer to grow rapidly as supermarket chains increasingly invest in the channel. Online beer sales hold the greatest market share in countries including Japan, the UK and the US. From a lower base, online beer sales will also grow rapidly over the next five years in markets such as Israel and Nigeria.

The entrepreneurial spirit of small-batch players

Craft breweries, which tend to be more dependent on the on-premise, have propelled interest in the global beer category and revitalised its fortunes in many markets. IWSR believes that the entrepreneurial spirit of the sector will mean that craft brewery regeneration will be quick. In the US, for example, IWSR has seen the pandemic lead to a “buy local” approach amongst some consumers, which will benefit small-batch players.

Innovation in the no/low space reignites the category

No- and low-alcohol beer is a bright spot for the category, as moderation and wellness trends continue to resonate with consumers. IWSR data shows that, to date, most volume has come from no-alcohol rather than low-alcohol beer across 10 key markets. Broadly, low-alcohol beer is giving way to no-alcohol offerings particularly in markets such as Australia, France and the UK. Spain, for example, is seeing a shift from low- to no-alcohol beers, as consumers seek healthier choices and view the newer 0.0% brands as more modern. In South Africa, investment from Heineken and the emergence of a craft segment has helped to generate interest in the no-alcohol category. While no-alcohol beer has existed for decades, in markets like the US, no-alcohol beer has premiumised through the release of no-alcohol versions of non-lager styles, long the domain of no-alcohol beer. More recent no-alcohol styles, such as IPAs, stouts or porters, are starting to make a real impression, driven particularly by new challenger brands, many of which are not linked to traditional brewing. The recent no-alcohol extension of Guinness – despite some teething issues – will help to underline that no-alcohol beers are no longer the sole domain of lagers. While several key beer players continue to steer the no/low beer category, the market is fragmented with a number of smaller brands vying to establish themselves as market leaders in this space. The segment is likely to become even more of a focus for smaller craft producers who are able to bring a diverse range of products to the market in future.

Alcohol consumption patterns in India

To start off, it has been assessed by the World Health Organisation that an individual consumes about 6.2 litres of alcohol per year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), average alcohol consumption in India was 5.7 litres per person above the age of 15 per year in 2016, up from 4.3 litres in 2010. On per capita consumption, India is ranked 101 (with Moldova leading with 15.2 litres. In the immediate neighbourhood, the figure for Pakistan is 0.3 litres and China is 7.2 litres).

Moreover, about a third of India’s population consumes alcohol on a regular basis and 11% of the total number of Indians are moderate or heavy drinkers. One-third of males and one-fourth of females in India who have made it a part of their lives say, in surveys, that it causes problems to their physical health, finances and household responsibilities. But alcohol —the recent events have shown—is an intricate and essential part of the Indian economy.

Now let us evaluate state wise consumption of alcohol, measured in consumption per capita, per week in millilitres. For Toddy and country liquor, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have the highest levels of consumption which drops to the lowest levels in states like Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat (for obvious reasons). The consumption in these states are as low as 100 ml per capita per week. Levels of Toddy consumption have seen a sharp decline in the northern state of Bihar as well, which still ranks in the medium to average range (101 – 500 ml. per capita per week).

Moving on to beer, imported wine and imported alcohol varieties, we see that Andhra Pradesh and Telangana still consume more than 300 ml. per capita, making those states the highest consumers in this category. Himachal Pradesh shows a sudden spike (101- 300 ml), and so do the north eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram and the islands of Andaman and Nicobar (>300 ml). Goa too, sees a high trend in this category, with the average between 101 and 300 ml per capita per week. The rest of the country remains quite conservative in their consumption trends of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) varieties.

Overall, it has been observed that the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Daman and Diu, Sikkim and Pondicherry are among the highest consumers of spirits and alcohol varieties in India.

Now one of the reasons why there has been greater number of calls for bans on alcohol in certain areas is due to the fact that these regions suffer from chronic alcoholism and resultant poverty. The regular consumption of any variety of alcohol and especially country made liquor has also been found to be inversely proportional to family income, thus providing further evidence for this trend.

Consumption of local brews and toddy is one of the major reasons for deaths in alcohol related incidents. In recent years, about 136 people were killed in one single incident. In January 2015, in a village in eastern Maharashtra, 94 people lost their lives due to hooch liquor contamination and resulting toxicity. The states that have prohibition in place presently are: Nagaland (since 1989), Manipur (since 1991, except the hill districts), Kerala (2014), Gujarat and Lakshadweep (on all islands except Bangaram).

India is one of the fastest growing alcohol markets in the world. Rapid increase in urban population, sizable middle class population with rising spending power, and a sound economy are certain significant reasons behind increase in consumption of alcohol in India.

Indian Alcohol Consumption – The Changing Behavior provides a comprehensive analysis of the market size of alcohol industry on the basis of type of products, consumption in different states, retail channel and imported and domestic. The Indian alcohol industry is segmented into IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor), IMIL (Indian made Indian liquor), wine, beer and imported alcohol. Imported alcohol has a meager share of around 0.8% in the Indian market. The heavy import duty and taxes levied raise the price of imported alcohol to a large extent. Alcohol is exempted from the taxation scheme of GST.

The Indian alcohol market is growing at a CAGR of 8.8% and it is expected to reach 16.8 billion liters of consumption by the year 2022. The popularity of wine and vodka is increasing at a remarkable CAGR of 21.8% and 22.8% respectively. India is the largest consumer of whiskey in the world and it constitutes about 60% of the IMFL market.

Though India is one of the largest consumers of alcohol in the world owing to its huge population, the per capita alcohol consumption of India is very low as compared to the Western countries. The per capita consumption of alcohol per week for the year 2016 was estimated at 147.3 ml and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% to 227.1 ml according to estimates.

The states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Sikkim, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are amongst the largest consumers of alcohol in India. The most popular channel of alcohol sale in India is liquor stores as alcohol consumption is primarily an outdoor activity and supermarkets and malls are present only in the tier I and tier II cities of India.

The trends and pattern of alcohol consumption are changing in the country. With the increasing acceptance of women consuming alcohol, growing popularity of wine and high demand for expensive liquor, the market scenario seems to be very optimistic in the near future.

The study reflected changing pattern of the consumer’s mindset towards alcohol consumption in India. 3% of the respondents who consumed alcohol favoured wine for its health benefits. Though the popularity of whisky is highest in the Indian market, its market share is expected to decrease in future.

Alcohol consumption in high-income countries witnessed constant growth, but it has been growing in low and middle-income countries as well. Before 1990, Europe had recorded the highest level of alcohol use. However, the study forecasts that Europe will not hold that title for long.

Going ahead, the world will drink more, and more people will drink as well. The research also suggests that almost half the adults across the world will consume alcohol by 2030, whereas a quarter of them will become binge drinkers.

Binge drinkers are those people who drink 60 grammes or more pure alcohol in one or more sittings, in a month.

Starting Young

Indians are not just drinking more, they are drinking dangerously as well. As many as 57 million people are facing the after-effects of alcohol addiction. A survey by the Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) revealed that over 88% of youth below 25, consume or purchase alcohol though it’s illegal. Punjab, Goa, Tripura, Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh rank high on alcohol consumption. However, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of alcohol drinkers in India.

Regulating alcohol

A few state governments like Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram and Nagaland, have prohibited the sale of alcohol. States like Kerala, Bihar, Tamil Nadu have imposed variety prohibition since 2016. The state government of Rajasthan allows sale of liquor only until 8.30 in the evening. India has also witnessed an increase in the number of drunken driving cases. According to reports, fines from drunk driving in India in 2018 alone, was at around `6 crore.

Assam is the highest alcohol consuming state in India

In the 15-54 age group, with 59.4%, men from Assam were found to be the highest consumer of alcohol in the country. In the latest Health and Family Welfare Statistics (HFWS) in India, it has been reported that 26.3% of women and 59.4% of men between 15-54 years of age consume alcohol in Assam. This is the highest in the country and the national percentages for the same age group are respectively 1.2 and 29.5. However, in terms of percentage of the population for both men and women in the age group 15-49 years who drink alcohol about once a week out of a total population (men and women) who drink alcohol, Assam women scored 44.8% and men scored 51.9% Meanwhile, in the 15-54 age group for women, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and Karnataka recorded the lowest alcohol consumption with 0.1%. In the same category for women, Jammu & Kashmir occupies the second position with 23% women found to be consuming alcohol. In the 15-49 age group, with 59%, men from Arunachal Pradesh were found to be the highest consumer of alcohol in the country. The HFWS report further revealed that percentage of the population of men and women in the 15-49 years who drink alcohol about once a week was found to be 45.2% and 55.1% respectively for women and men of Arunachal Pradesh. For women and men in Nagaland, the percentage of the population who drink alcohol about once a week in the 15-49 age group was found to be 65.5% and 46.4% respectively. As for the other states from the northeast, the percentage of the population of men and women in the 15-49 years who drink alcohol about once a week are – Manipur 21.3% and 40.1%; 25.1% and 42.4%; Mizoram 20.3% and 41.2%; Nagaland 65.5% and 46.4%; Sikkim 33.9% and 43.5% and Tripura 50.8% and 47.1%. The five southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala together consume as much as 45% of all liquor sold in the country. The financial position of these states is precarious as the Coronavirus lockdown completely dried up this crucial liquidity tap for them in April. Although these states consume as much as 45% of all liquor sold in the country annually. Not a drop was sold in April, and given the dire state of their revenues, these states have been anxious to make good the losses by opening up the vends, said the survey. While Tamil Nadu and Kerala top the list in revenue percentage terms at 15% each, for Kerala the tax on liquor is its single largest revenue source. The revenue share is 11% each for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and 10% for Telangana, shows the report. Delhi is at number three when it comes to liquor revenue share with 12% of tax revenue, but its citizens swig only 4% of the national intake. Tamil Nadu has another distinction – it is the single largest consumer of liquor in the country, guzzling as much 13% of national sales, closely followed by Karnataka with 12%. Andhra quaffs 7% of the national intake, followed by Telangana (6%) and Kerala (5%). While all other states have high population, when it comes to Kerala, despite being home to only 3.3 crore people, it draws the highest revenue because among the five states it charges the highest tax rate on liquor. However nationally, Maharashtra charges the highest rate, but draws only 8% of its tax revenue from liquor – primarily because it is the most industrialised state and has many other sources of income – and also consumes only 8% of the national intake despite being the second most populous state. Twelve states – the five southern ones, Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – account for 75% of liquor consumption in the country. But uncorking the bottled spirit will also be a problem for these 12 states as they contribute to more than 85% of all Covid-19 infections/deaths as well. Among these 12 states, Kerala has the lowest national average in this at under-1%, the report said. You might associate Goa with booze and partying, but a higher proportion of people in Telangana consume alcohol than in the former. And a larger percentage of men drink in Bihar, a state under prohibition, than in Maharashtra. Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir, in that order, have the least consumption of alcohol among men. When it comes to women’s consumption of alcohol, Sikkim and Assam, with 16.2% and 7.3%, respectively, top the charts. But here, too, Telangana comes next, topping Goa. Barring Telangana and Goa, most of the states at the top are in the northeast. The consumption among rural women is significantly higher than in urban areas in most states, which could also be due to less hesitation in admitting to alcohol consumption compared to urban women. This difference in prevalence of alcohol consumption exists between rural and urban men too, but the difference is not as high as among women. Covid-19 may change many aspects of work, life and the economy, but India’s relationship with alcohol will likely remain intact. If anything, the linkages might get stronger. When the pandemic-induced lockdown was first announced, the Centre excluded liquor shops in the category of establishments that would stay open. It was not deemed to be “essential”. States backed the Centre’s stance. But as the days under the lockdown accumulated, and as the economy and tax collections slumped (with more money from the Centre not forthcoming), states started clamouring with the Centre to allow liquor vends to reopen.

State controls

India has had a conflicting history with prohibition. States have been torn between the need for revenues and the broader problems its abuse created. As a result, they have been imposing dry days, and some form of control. Some states have gone the full hog in imposing prohibition: Gujarat (since 1960), Nagaland (since 1989), Bihar (since 2016), Mizoram (since 2019), and in most parts of Lakshadweep. In most parts, states control liquor distribution. Take, for example, TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation), set up in 1983 by then-chief minister M.G. Ramachandran as the monopoly liquor wholesaler for better control over distribution. For retail, it auctioned licences to the private sector. This, in turn, led to problems, including cartelisation and customer complaints – and lower revenues to the state. Twenty years later, the J. Jayalalithaa government claimed monopoly over retailing too. It has served the state well. Its revenues jumped from `2,828 crore in 2002-03 to `31,157 crore in 2018-19. It’s also a reason why Tamil Nadu has been pushing the Centre to reopen liquor shops. Unlike the purchase of a car or a computer, lost liquor sale is lost forever. Thus, for TASMAC, which was selling 160,000 cases of Indian-made foreign liquor and 90,000 cases of beer every day, the sales might not necessarily return, reducing the ability of Tamil Nadu to fund even ongoing schemes. The time has come to ‘de-criminalise’ liquor as the state of Goa has done successfully. Considering that 50% or more of the price of every bottle finds its way to the coffers of state governments, it is preposterous that tipplers are treated with such scant respect.

Brexit deal scrutiny begins as trade document published

Commenting as the UK and EU agreed a free trade deal, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive Karen Betts said: “It’s very good news that the UK and EU have agreed a free trade deal, providing Scotch Whisky producers with more certainty about how we continue to export to our largest regional market. “We will now need a common-sense approach to the application of new rules and new border procedures from 1 January to help businesses manage the transition smoothly. The UK Government and EU Member States will need to be flexible with producers, logistics companies and importers as they get to grips with the significant changes that will take effect in just 7 days’ time.” Legal experts and MPs were poring over the 1,246-page document published on the morning of Boxing Day, as Boris Johnson worked to persuade Eurosceptic Tories to back it as the “right deal” for the country.

The Prime Minister acknowledged to Conservative MPs that “the devil is in the detail” but insisted it would stand up to inspection from the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers, who will assemble a panel of lawyers to examine the full text ahead of a Commons vote. But the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation, Barrie Deas, accused Mr Johnson of having “bottled it” on fishing quotas to secure only “a fraction of what the UK has a right to under international law”.

The share of fish in British waters that the UK can catch will rise from about half now to two-thirds by the end of the five-and-a-half-year transition. The EU’s 27 member states indicated they will formally back the deal agreed by the UK with Brussels’ officials within days. It covers trade worth about £660 billion and means goods can be sold without tariffs or quotas in the EU market. EU ambassadors were briefed on the contents of the deal by Michel Barnier, who led Brussels’ negotiating team in the talks with the UK.

After a highly unusual meeting on Christmas Day – with at least one diplomat wearing a Santa hat and another in a festive jumper – they agreed to write to the European Parliament to say they intend to take a decision on the provisional application of the deal. The timing of the Christmas Eve deal forced politicians and officials in the UK and Brussels to tear up their plans. MPs and peers will be called back to Westminster on December 30 to vote on the deal, but MEPs are not expected to approve it until the new year, meaning it will have to apply provisionally until they give it the green light. The agreement will almost certainly be passed by Parliament, with Labour supporting it, as the alternative would be a chaotic no-deal situation on January 1.

But Mr Johnson is keen to retain the support of the Eurosceptics on his benches who helped him reach No 10. Mr Johnson had earlier messaged Tory MPs on WhatsApp as he tried to get them all on side. “I truly believe this is the right deal for the UK and the EU,” he wrote, in a message seen by the PA news agency. “We have delivered on every one of our manifesto commitments: control of money, borders, laws, fish and all the rest. “But even more important, I believe we now have a basis for long-term friendship and partnership with the EU as sovereign equals.” He added that “I know the devil is in the detail” but the deal will survive “ruthless” scrutiny from the “star chamber legal eagles” The “star chamber” is the nickname given to the panel assembled by the ERG, including veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash. Officials in Brussels and the capitals of EU states are also beginning to scrutinise the deal, with another meeting of ambassadors expected before the new year, possibly on December 28.

The European Commission has also announced a £4.5 billion fund to help regions and industries within the bloc which will be hit by the UK’s withdrawal from the single market and customs union – including fishing communities who face losing out as the UK takes a greater share of stock in British waters. French Europe minister Clement Beaune said it was a “good agreement” and stressed the EU had not accepted a deal “at all costs”. Mr Beaune said that British food and industrial products entering the European single market after January 1 will not pay customs duties “but will have to meet all our standards”.

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.

Beam Suntory Sets High Ambitions for India

After the lull comes the storm as Beam Suntory launches it first Truly International Indian Whisky Oaksmith and the The House of Suntory portfolio including Yamazaki, Hibiki and Roku Gin.

Oaksmith is a premium Indian whisky, crafted by Suntory’s Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, the creator of iconic Japanese whiskies Hibiki and Yamazaki, marks Beam Suntory’s entry into the Indian whisky segment and combines the finest Scotch Malts and American Bourbon using Japanese blending craft to bring the best of East and West for Indian consumers. The global premium spirits company brings its finest and the most popular Japanese whiskies – Yamazaki and Hibiki – and Japanese craft gin – Roku – to India with the launch of The House of Suntory portfolio.

Beam Suntory, the global premium spirits company, has launched a range of four premium spirits in India, signaling its commitment and strategy to grow in India in line with its ambition to reach USD 1 billion in revenue by 2030. The highlight of the launch is the introduction of Oaksmith Indian whisky – created by world-renowned blender Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender, Suntory – using traditional Japanese craftsmanship, blended with the finest Scotch Malt whiskies and American Bourbons to make a whisky unique and authentic to Indian taste. In addition, the iconic Japanese whiskies Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve and Hibiki Japanese Harmony, along with Roku® Japanese Craft gin have also been launched from The House of Suntory portfolio.

The launch of Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold whisky in India is key to Beam Suntory’s growth strategy and signifies the importance of India to the company. Along with the introduction of Yamazaki, Hibiki and Roku, it reinforces the company’s commitment to lead the growth and premiumisation of the Indian spirits market.

The launch event of The House of Suntory was graced by Shinji Fukuyo, world-renowned Chief Blender at Suntory, the creator of the luxury and iconic blends of Hibiki and Yamazaki whiskies, and Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India, along with George Kumekawa, Representative, The House of Suntory. The event highlighted the exceptional legacy of The House of Suntory, the art of making delicate whiskies, and the importance of India for Beam Suntory globally. The House of Suntory brands are being launched across all major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve will be available in the range of INR 10,900 to INR 20,000 across different states; Hibiki Japanese Harmony for INR 10,900 to INR 20,000 and Roku® gin for INR 5,500 to INR 7,100.

“We are thrilled by the appreciation that Hibiki and Yamazaki have received from consumers worldwide, and their popularity among spirits aficionados in India. The growing premiumisation of the Indian market and the appreciation for finely crafted spirits made this the right time to launch these brands, along with Roku gin. Indians today are well-travelled and exposed to global trends, which inspired the creation of Oaksmith for whisky lovers in India,” says Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India. On Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold, he said, “The beautiful blend incorporates years of tradition that the Beam Suntory family upholds while showcasing Shinji-san’s award-winning blending capabilities making it a whisky that, quite simply, no one else could possibly create.”

Oaksmith is a celebration of mastery and global collaboration, combining the best of East and West in a bottle. Blended by Shinji Fukuyo himself, Oaksmith is a harmonious blend of matured Scotch Malts that adds a strong flavour profile and American Bourbon whiskey, aged for at least four years in American Oak barrels which lends it an unmatched smoothness. That gives the brand its unique name and also inspires the round bottle labels celebrating its distinctive craftsmanship. Befitting the unique and distinct flavour palate, the exquisite six-sided bottle with beveled edges and a tall neck has an equally unique and ergonomic design that is an ode to the finest Japanese craftsmanship and makes it stand tall in this category. The company is celebrating its international pedigree with the use of the world map in all its creative expressions.

Much like The House of Suntory, Oaksmith blend is made using the finest ingredients and sincerity of process that is a hallmark of Beam Suntory’s Japanese heritage which is unique to this brand in the entire Indian whisky category. From seed to sip, the whisky is meticulously crafted to achieve a blend like no other resulting in a bold spirit that is rich on the nose yet approachable and well-balanced on one’s palate with a bright, smooth and unexpectedly long finish. The unique offering will be available at the price of an Indian whisky and the flavourful palate will be well suited to both beginners and connoisseurs alike. There will be two variants of the product – Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold – which will launch on 19th December 2019 in the state of Maharashtra, followed by the rest of the country in due course. Oaksmith Gold will be priced in the range of INR 800 to INR 1,300, while Oaksmith will be priced in the range of INR 600 to INR 900 depending upon the state of launch. Both the variants will be premium in their respective categories due to the international quality of blend and craftsmanship they offer.

A relentless quest for perfection and commitment to using only the highest- quality ingredients encapsulates Suntory’s philosophy to create the finest spirit possible. Shinji Fukuyo, Chief Blender at Suntory, said, “My travels across the world have helped me understand and appreciate sophisticated flavour profiles. Blending spirits is about creating a harmonious flavour by weaving culture and tradition along with one’s own form of self-expression. This is an art in itself and I am very grateful that people globally have appreciated the quality and artistry of Hibiki and Yamazaki, and hopefully now, Oaksmith.” On Oaksmith®, he added, “While making this blend, I wanted to ensure that it resonates specifically well with the Indian audience while being truly international in its spirit. I travelled across the country to understand the different food cultures and flavours. Eventually what I saw, heard and tasted, helped me explore a variety of flavour profiles and finalize this harmonious blend which has the best of America, Scotland and Japanese craftsmanship. I am extremely proud as the final product completely reimagines what the future of Indian whisky can be.”

On the rising popularity of gin in India, George Kumekawa, Representative, The House of Suntory, said, “In recent years, we have noticed a strong trend among Indians to opt for premium and craft gin as their spirit of choice as it has a softer flavour profile which is easier on the throat and refreshing in its appeal – perfect for brunches and refreshment occasions. With the introduction of Roku gin in India, we are looking to further build the market for both gin as well as craft spirits to help enthusiasts discover new tastes and experiences.”