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Indian liquor trends pre and post COVID

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to impact India since its arrival in spring last year. The government initially reacted by imposing a national lockdown from 23rd March to 4th May last year. The on-trade was completely closed, as were most liquor shops in every state. Places of work shut down, so many young office workers left the urban centres. With the on-trade stifled, retail purchases and consumption of beverage alcohol at home became the norm in most mainstream categories. In India, however, women and younger consumers still feel uncomfortable drinking in front of more conservative parents and family members at home. Limitations on space and refrigeration favoured spirits over beer, RTDs and – especially for young urban women – wine, all of which are usually consumed cold.

The implications of the pandemic response for India’s status as a federal republic soon became clear. The importance of excise duty income from alcohol, tobacco and fuel was brought into sharp relief as revenue streams dried up and the diminishing income from national taxes, such as GST, were used to offset fiscal shortfalls at state level. Most states responded by increasing excise duties – often suddenly and steeply – as well as charging taxpayers one-off cess payments, commonly levied by central governments for a specific purpose. Unusually, this cess (tax on tax), commonly levied by central government for a specific and clearly defined purpose (and not shared with state governments), has been applied in a number of instances at state level as a Corona-cess. Some states have been more reluctant than others to review, reduce or cancel such supposedly temporary measures. For instance, Andhra Pradesh – where the government had tried to enforce prohibition before the pandemic – imposed a 75% excise duty incre for two days just as the national lockdown ended last May; and on the same day, Delhi imposed a 70% cess on the maximum retail price (MRP) of all liquor, which remained until 7th June.

The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse, especially for beer. The category relies on young urban drinkers and after-work occasions and its peak season for consumption was about to start. When lockdown ended, bars and restaurants re-opened in most states, but were limited to 50% occupancy, and workers were slower to return to offices. Many are still working from home or – during Q1 2021 – have returned to it.

Compared to some countries, where citizens often remained risk-averse and pessimistic after the first lockdown, Indian consumer confidence seemed to bounce back quickly. Many Indians assumed – wrongly – that their everyday hygiene challenges afforded them a high degree of natural immunity to the coronavirus.

The past year has confirmed that India is squarely a brown spirits market. Whisky absorbs two-thirds of consumption in this market; brandy – with a strong presence in the south – takes 20%; and rum takes around half of that. In a total market that has shrunk by around one-fifth, whisky declined only slightly less than brandy and rum, which fell around one-quarter. Beer and RTDs suffered precipitous falls, deprived of many of the venues and occasions that had driven consumption forward. All clear spirits witnessed steeper declines in consumption than dark spirits: in each category, sales of domestically produced brands bottled in India (BII) fell away faster. Even allowing for the experimentation evident in categories such as Irish whiskey, consumers sought out brands that they knew, had earned equity and had consistent quality. In short, they sought out certainties.

Two other fundamental shifts have also occurred. Firstly, the premiumisation trend – evident before the pandemic – saw some importers shift their focus to retail, increasing its offering of high-end brands, which were previously targetted at Duty-Free and at the on-trade. Disposable income spent on going out to eat and drink before the pandemic was instead often redirected to premium-and-above products for at-home consumption. Secondly, as a corollary to this and confirming the pressure on the mainstream, was down-trading out of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), either bottled in origin (BIO) or BII.

Budget-conscious consumers instead chose either country liquor or illicit alternatives, having long been deprived of licensed outlets in which to purchase their nips.

The on-trade closure has also impacted routes to market and the supply chain and it increasingly determines choice. When all outlets closed, some states permitted home delivery, which many thought heralded the long-expected rise of the e-commerce channel. In reality, this was an expedient option for retail outlets: e-commerce has not seen a consequent increase in regulation or investment since. On the contrary, drinks ordering apps, such as Hipbar, appear to have been actively discouraged.

The effects of a six-week shutdown of alcohol supply lasted long after it ended: restocking and logistics issues extended out-of-stock occurrences well into the summer months. Importers often found it difficult to source supplies as exporters were reluctant to ship to trading partners in an uncertain economy, not least because they wanted to avoid passing on rising logistics costs to consumers.

One of the responses, driven by leading country liquor suppliers, has been the emergence of intermediate or medium liquor produced locally: this refers to a price band of distilled liquor sold under licensed quota in certain states – presently Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh only – competitively priced between country liquor/IMIL (Indian-made Indian liquor) and IMFL. Commonly the price, set by the state, is at a 25% premium to the country liquor price, a similar proportion lower than IMFL pricing.

This system has the additional benefits of almost guaranteeing state excise income and reducing the occurrence of country liquor-related health issues through better-quality product. In theory, this model should be attractive to many more states. In practice, its implementation may be limited by the relative scarcity of country liquor distillers able to produce medium liquor of the requisite quality. Nevertheless, with investment and a little covert encouragement from the states, that provision will doubtless evolve over time.

In a decentralised India, the domestic beverage alcohol industry relies on a relatively small number of states for its success. The top three states – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal – account for one-third of India’s population. The top six states account for half of the population. West Bengal is the only corporate state: the beverage alcohol industry is regulated directly through a state body. By contrast, the five largest states in the south are each home to beverage alcohol corporations.

This complexity and large size of India means that there are very few companies that are truly national. Even those that are considered national – thanks to a contract bottling network – still retain large regional brands in their portfolios. There is a small number of multinationals twinning domestic production with imports that are focussed on urban distribution shared among importers and wholesalers. India has a larger number of local distillers aspiring to convert their regional origins into a multi-region or national presence; and there are many smaller distillers, the majority of whom supply locally. Most distillers, therefore, will only be trading in one or two jurisdictions and navigating one or two bureaucracies. For the larger players, these challenges are manifold.

The second half of 2020 saw the Indian beverage alcohol market emerging quickly and largely unscathed from Covid-19 and lockdown. Leading spirits companies in particular were reporting quarterly revenues and volumes that had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This was in spite of the on-trade remaining stifled, e-commerce failing to expand and the regulation and excise duty rises imposed by most states. However, by the second quarter of this year – the beginning of the new financial year for most corporations – this initial optimism about rapid recovery has somewhat evaporated.

The picture, though, is mixed. India’s federal state model shows up the inconsistencies between states: decisions can often be arbitrary, poorly thought through and political rather than practical, but a successful model in one state can be swiftly adopted in another. On the one hand, the Delhi state government’s legislation lowering the legal drinking age from 25 to 21 is positive for the industry. On the other, Andhra Pradesh will join Bihar, Gujarat and some other smaller states and territories to prohibit alcohol for around 250m people, which is nearly one-fifth of the population.

It cannot be overstated how the pandemic and its effects demonstrated the importance of beverage alcohol revenues to individual states’ budgets. Some state governments recognise this and are approaching their beverage alcohol policy with pragmatism by listening to the industry more attentively.

The key issues revolve around the temporary and permanent changes brought about by the pandemic. Office work may have changed permanently, calling into question whether or not urban on-trade lighthouse accounts will recover. It is uncertain when occupancy rates in on-trade venues rise above the current 50% constraint. The medium liquor system may see expansion into further states. It is also questionable whether premiumisation will persist or the second Covid-19 wave will dent consumer confidence fundamentally.

The wider economy, of course, is a determining factor. Declining disposable income has particular relevance for beverage alcohol spend. The industry is circumscribed by its investment in advertising and promotion. The pandemic has sharpened the senses of many executives and players, but left others close to collapse, unable to survive further uncertain events. States have pursued short-term solutions throughout the pandemic and it is unknown if this approach will persist. However, it is likely that the distilling capacity of the domestic industry will not grow. This has implications for all, given the contract-bottling model that has enabled the largest players to become truly national.

General Forecast Assumptions

On-Trade – In some states, the on-trade had re-opened up to 85% of its former capacity by Q1 2021. However, the occupancy restriction to 50% remains, so the real throughput is also likely to be at 50%. This will continue to affect beer and RTDs. Furthermore, on-trade sub-channels are re-opening at different rates.

Restaurants opened faster than bars; and bars faster than night venues. Whilst this appears to affect wine and premium spirits in higher-end outlets, the impact will be mitigated by the flexibility of suppliers, many of whom have switched attention to retail and targetting wealthier consumers.

Medium Liquor – Consumers in some states are now being offered a wider choice. Those who had traded down to country liquor may choose medium liquor instead of IMFL. Currently this is available in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, but more states may institute this. A significant number of consumers may prefer the taste and the brands on offer in the category to IMFL.

E-commerce – When three of the larger eastern states – West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkand – permitted home delivery of alcohol, it was thought e-commerce would, at last, be stimulated by the lockdown conditions. They were soon joined by Orissa and Maharashtra. However, steep delivery charges, regulatory uncertainty, a reluctance to invest and a poor delivery-logistics framework continue to hamper growth, as well as the nature of Indian e-commerce defined on the invitation issued by the West Bengal authorities as “handling the electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed food [and liquor] outlets”. Retail competitors required to pay for annual licences have lobbied against the channel as well. Some significant platforms – Amazon, Flipkart (Walmart), Big Basket, Swiggy, Zomato and the mobile app Hipbar, reportedly backed by Diageo and, in Mumbai, Living Liquidz – responded to state-level invitations to get involved after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of home delivery from licensed retail. However, it has become clear that any bureaucratic encouragement of home delivery has primarily been one of a range of responses to the crowds that gathered outside liquor shops last year and, while recurring lockdowns may help to accelerate e-commerce, the channel will not significantly impact the industry for the foreseeable future. Informal delivery, where customers call up the liquor store and get an order dropped off by moped, already existed and will continue.

Regulation – Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, had previously imposed a cess of 20 per bottle of beer. West Bengal, the fourth most populous state, increased consumer tax by 30%. Rajasthan, the sixth most populous, enacted both, adding20 per bottle and imposing a 10% increase in consumer tax. Their approach is unlikely to change. Additionally, the election in Bihar state did not return a government willing to reverse prohibition. Andhra Pradesh’s government was unable to enact prohibition but has discouraged some national players by making trading there problematic. However, it is assumed there is no foreseeable regulatory movement throughout the forecast period.

Consumer Base Expansion – India’s population is approaching 1.4bn, with less than half being of legal drinking age. The actual number of alcohol consumers is believed to be closer to 160m, only 7.5% of whom are women. Per capita rates for beer and RTDs remain low at around 1.2 litres for men and 150ml for women, re-calculated at 10 litres and 1.25 litres on estimated drinking population numbers. Wine has similar rates to RTDs, spirits are 1.8 litres per capita and nearly 15 litres on a re-calculated basis. There are more younger consumers joining the potential drinking population every year. Uptake by women reportedly increased during the pandemic.

At-Home Consumption – This trend is likely to persist beyond the pandemic. Wealthier consumers of premium spirits and imports spend for indulging at home and for gifts. The wedding industry will revive: most wine suppliers are focussing on higher-end offerings, educating consumers about its accessibility and suitability during meals, as well as drinking before and after. Beer and RTDs will find difficulty switching as their core message is based on going out and socialising rather than at-home consumption, and most consumers have insufficient refrigeration space at home.

Key Market Factors

Cultural – The legal drinking age varies from state to state. In most states it is 21, but 25 in the populous states of Haryana and the Punjab. In Maharashtra it is 21 for beer and wine, and 25 for liquor. Bigger states with a drinking age of 18 include Rajasthan in the north and Kerala in the south. Delhi is about to lower its LDA from 25 to 21.

Three states with larger populations prohibit alcohol. Gujarat has been dry for the longest, with Bihar and now Andhra Pradesh having imposed prohibition more recently. Outcomes are mixed, with Bihar and Andhra Pradesh reportedly having some of the highest per capita consumption rates for beverage alcohol nationally once illicit alcohol is factored in.

Demographic – A key driver of consumption has been urbanisation, particularly among younger LDA drinkers. The lockdown appears to have reversed this, with young office workers returning to their parents’ houses in smaller cities, towns and the countryside.

The overall population is nearly 1.4bn and grows by 15–20m or more every year. The drinking population is considerably smaller: at least half can only afford very cheap country liquor, which is largely unbranded alcohol with an estimated market of 250–285m cases.

The rapidly growing middle classes, who can afford premium-and-above, may number more than 150m. However, 98% of middle-class women and more than 20% of men are said not to drink for philosophical, religious or cultural reasons.

Some 49% of the population is aged under 19, and few drink, although younger consumers are generally more willing to consume alcohol than many of their parents. This leaves a market of between 25m and 30m people with the inclination and resources to drink IMFL.

Economic – There is little state support in India and wellbeing is the individual’s responsibility. With livelihoods uncertain but a young population inclined to optimism, the second Covid-19 wave may hit confidence hard and a volatile economy will see more cautious expenditure. Excise rates vary substantially from state to state even before the pandemic, which exacerbated the difference when states imposed cess payments to make up fiscal shortfalls.

A number of observers mention a shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure the revenues they can expect from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Trade – Difficulties with the supply of stock have been widespread. It is reported that lack of supply inhibited sales, especially of premium products. The pandemic hindered logistics and rendered delivery more expensive. Brand-owner allocations have also reduced the agility to respond to demand.

A further element is that the phenomenon of medium liquor in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh offers more settled revenue for states and gives consumers an alternative to IMFL. One leading country liquor supplier reports now selling twice as much medium liquor as it does country liquor per month. India is unusual in that spirits demand is significantly more developed than demand for beer. While there is some interplay between the two with bang-for-buck consumers keen to maximise alcohol content per rupee delivery, there were some signs that demand for beer was beginning to develop separately.

However, strong beers of 8.5% ABV still represent more than 82% of demand. The first lockdown also affected trade, and was both severe and ill-timed – six weeks without sales, just before peak season for beer and RTDs. The on-trade revived in the second half of 2020 with near full re-opening in some states, but night and weekend curfews, combined with 50% capacity limits, continue to constrain this channel. The uncertainty of lockdown and the unavailability of liquor drove some consumers back down to country liquor, although not in the south where it is banned in five large states.

There was more limited up-trading by wealthier consumers. However, mainstream products, brands and players have been affected with some of the less financially secure domestic players closing for some months. In some of the larger states, competition in the beverage alcohol category is relatively open. In more there are state corporations set up as wholesalers and frequently as retailers too. In all states, beverage alcohol participants must navigate a web of licences, quotas and taxes, and sometimes incentives.

In certain key states, the regulatory authorities that control pricing have rationalised their price lists. In Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana the correction has been downwards for higher-priced imports.

It is reported that there is shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure revenues from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Political – Breweries have been investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which has now resulted in fines for collusion and operating a cartel. The reputational impact is more serious than the financial cost.

Amazing Vodka Review

The Vodka market in India hasn’t been experiencing high level of growth for few years now. But while the regular Vodka category has witnessed a flat line, the flavours category has been witnessing good growth in the industry and nearly accounts for 60% of the overall vodka sales. Precisely the reason why you see manufacturers offering flavours of their vodka. So it is only natural that when India Glycols must’ve chosen to launch their vodka, it would be in two flavours, Green Apple and Orange.

If you remember then recently, we reviewed the Single Reserva Whisky which was also from India Glycols. The price of this product is Rs. 750 in UP is also available in Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and Rajasthan. There are also plans to take it National this year. With its price this Vodka is in the same category as some of the highest selling brands like Magic Moments and similar to Single Reserva, this vodka is also made at the company’s Kashipur and Gorakhpur plants.

Now Amazing Premium Vodka has been developed with the help of Raju Vaziraney who has been in the industry for many years and has helped in developing a lot of brands. This is a Grain-based Vodka which is infused with imported enhancers that have been brought from Germany. As you might knoe that enhancers are added flavours that provide the spirit with a premium feel. This is common in the industry and the flavoured vodka market. But since these are imported from Germany, it also is the distinguishing factor for this vodka as compared to the other vodkas made in India. The vodka is also 5-times filtered to make it smooth.

Packaging

Vodka packaging is always more bolder since it needs to be attractive to appeal to the youth and women. Amazing Vodka comes packed in a frosted bottle with four colour printing and the bottle features an illustration of Mermaid suggestive of fantasy. What’s also clear is the flavour with the green colour for the label and the caps. We like the printing on the bottle, it feels premium and nice and also that the word amazing is embossed on the bottle.

Nosing

In terms of nosing you get the subtle green apple flavour, which isn’t very overbearing. With a 37.5% ABV the vodka isn’t exactly very strong. But the filtration process ensures that you can nose that the spirit is refined and smooth. The aroma is also very distinctive and crispy.

Tasting

With the first sip itself you can get the flavour. The spirit is smooth and it feels premium, especially since they’ve used imported enhancers. The finish is medium-longish and there isn’t any afterburn as it trickles down. There is a slight hint of peppery note in the taste to give some spice to it. But again, it isn’t overbearing.
We also added a mixer to it to allow the vodka to open up a little and see what it does. Once added it makes the spirit even more milder, so may be as a tip: don’t add too much of the mixer when you choose to drink it.

Conclusion

So what is it that we think about the Amazing Premium Vodka. For a price of Rs. 750 for a bottle it is clear that it is targeted to users that are looking for good value for money. And of course you do have popular brands in that category already. When mixed with something that you like as you usually consume vodkas then you might feel really at home when it comes to this vodka. But our suggestion would be to not mix it with something very sweet since green apple flavour already has a hint of sweetness. But all in all, it has everything that you want from a vodka at this price point and it surely is worth a try.

Rise of Premium vodka spritz RTDs

As the RTD trend continues, a number of premium vodka brands are launching their first canned products focussing on the spritz serve.

Spritz itself has become a malleable term in recent years. Once referring to a combination of soda or sparkling water to wine or vodka, it has more recently been adopted by brands such as Aperol for their popular soda water, prosecco and bitter aperitif serve. In the wake of its success over recent years, other brands, and indeed bars, have adopted the name for their own wine, water, and spirit serves.

In the US, the world’s leading RTD market, RTD innovation is picking up pace as consumers continue to demand lighter but flavourful serves like hard seltzers. Demand is especially growing for spirit-based RTDs in the US, which are expected to grow at a volume CAGR of 33% by 2025. Within this segment, vodka and tequila bases are dominant, together accounting for more than 50% of new spirit-based RTD launches between 2019 and the first half of 2021.

As sales of hard seltzers continue to show double-digit growth in the US, growth is picking up in other markets as well, as the hard seltzer category becomes more globally recognised. To capitalise on this trend, some of the largest vodka brands have chosen the ‘spritz’ name for their sparkling water, spirit, and fruit flavour combinations.

Ketel One was one of the first to offer an RTD spritz with the launch of its canned range of Botanical Vodka Spritzes in September 2020. They were aimed at variety of occasions – from moments of relaxation with family, to spending a safe and socially-distanced day at the pool or park, stated Bob Nolet, Ketel One’s master distiller.

The new raft of launches, led by brands including Cîroc, Grey Goose, and Svedka, have a similar aim; of providing guilt-free, portable, easy summer refreshment, as large-scale outdoor events return, and consumers look to make the most of their first summer of significantly reduced restrictions.

In a notable shift from what has gone before however, all of the new wave of products put flavour first, offering trending tropical, tea, and fruit combinations, still at a lower ABV. With them, brands are hoping to capitalise on the mood of cautious hedonism – alongside the ongoing health and wellness trends – that look to define the summer.

Diageo and brand partner Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, for example, have launched the brand’s first RTD line, Ciroc Vodka Spritz, as a permanent addition to the brand. The line offers four premium spritz flavours – Watermelon Kiwi, Sunset Citrus, Pineapple Passion and Colada.

Constellation Brands has launched a vodka and tea-based canned line under the Svedka brand. The Tea Spritz line is described as a spirit-based hard seltzer and combines real tea, sparkling water, and natural tropical fruit flavours, and includes three variants; Orange Mango, Pineapple Guava – both of which include turmeric – and Raspberry Kiwi.

Others will likely join in on this new twist on existing RTD trends, as more brands look to claim a part of the market unique from hard seltzers, but that share their many selling points, for themselves.

Two years on from the onset of Covid-19, the global beverage alcohol marketplace continues to exhibit subtle regional variations, characterised by shifts across beer, spirits and RTDs.

It’s a highly detailed picture that defies easy generalisations, as the IWSR’s recent analysis of global beverage alcohol category share 2010-21 shows, with beer demonstrating good resilience in volume terms across many markets – but losing ground steadily to spirits when it comes to value. However, the scene has been disrupted by the remarkably rapid growth of RTDs since 2019, stealing share from all rival categories, but especially from beer.

Volume trends

Beer was severely impacted by the pandemic due to its relatively high on-trade exposure, but has still managed to grow volume share since 2016 in most regions. On a servings-adjusted basis, global beer volumes moved up at a CAGR of +0.2% between 2016 and 2019. However, this was mostly driven by large-scale volume declines for low-priced baijiu in China and vodka in Russia.

The same factors led to a volume decline for spirits at a CAGR of -3.1% between 2016 and 2019 – magnified by public health policies in China and Russia aimed at reducing consumption of low-end spirits. In Russia, for example, this has led many consumers to switch to lower-ABV products such as beer or wine.

Look beyond these trends and it’s apparent that beer is tending to expand its market share in emerging markets, but is declining in mature markets, where spirits and RTDs are generally faring better.

As such, in North America, spirits volumes (on a servings-adjusted basis) rose at a CAGR of +3% between 2016 and 2021, but beer volumes fell at a CAGR of -1.7%. Meanwhile, RTDs surged forward, recording a CAGR of +33.3%.

In Europe, another mature market, the picture is more nuanced: while beer declined at a CAGR of -0.8% between 2016 and 2021, spirits fell too, by -0.6%; however, RTDs rose by +2.9%.

Figures for the emerging region of Africa are skewed by the impact of Covid-19. Pre-pandemic growth for beer, however, was positive, with a CAGR of +3.6%, but was outstripped by the performances of spirits (+4.7%) and RTDs (+7%), 2010 to 2019.

Value trends

The contrast between beer and spirits is more pronounced in value terms, with beer losing share to spirits in every region, thanks largely to premiumisation trends in spirits from 2016.

Beer’s global value share declined from 46% to 39% between 2010 and 2019, and fell further to 37% in 2021. Meanwhile, the value share of spirits has increased from 29% to 38%, and then to 40%, over the same timescale.

Here too there are local exceptions, such as beer gaining share in some emerging APAC markets, and the structural decline in low-end vodka in Russia, leading to migration into beer, wine and RTDs. Beer also staged a recovery in South America in 2021, following lockdowns and enforced on-trade closures in 2020.

The premiumisation trend – “less but better” – for spirits is reflected in a marked increase in price per serve for spirits, particularly from 2016, at a time when beer prices remained largely flat. In terms of average price per serving, spirits moved up at a CAGR of +7.3% between 2016 and 2021. While this value surge is partly explained by volume declines in low-end spirits (baijiu, vodka), it also stems from large-scale investments from brand owners to premiumise their portfolios across mature and emerging markets.

Regional value trends

The latter phenomenon is also apparent from an analysis of category value pools by region: as value per serve has grown rapidly, the value pool commanded by spirits has expanded around the world.

This is especially evident in Asia Pacific, where remarkable growth for spirits has taken share from all other categories except RTDs and, on a regional basis, has led to an erosion of Europe’s value share of the global spirits category. While beer’s value share in APAC declined from 40% to 30% between 2010 and 2019 (and fell further to 28% in 2021), spirits increased its share from 45% to 59% – and reached 62% by the end of 2021.

Category value pool analysis also highlights the astonishingly rapid rise of RTDs, especially in North America, where RTDs more than doubled in value between 2010 and 2019, reaching a 5% value share figure in the region – and then doubled again between 2019 and 2021, reaching 11%.

The rise and rise of RTDs

This remarkable momentum is only partly explained by Covid-19 magnifying pre-existing trends, and there are clear signs that the phenomenon is not merely confined to the US.

On a global basis, RTDs have been growing at around 10% per year (+10% CAGR for the top 20 markets, 2010 to 2021), with a rapid acceleration just before and during the pandemic virtually everywhere. While this shift has been most evident in the US, which recorded a volume CAGR of +34% between 2016 and 2021, consumption is rising fast in a number of other countries, including Canada (+26.1% CAGR, 2016 to 2021) and Japan (+10.6%) – and the majority of the top 20 beverage alcohol markets have witnessed accelerating growth for RTDs between 2016 and 2021.

Russia’s alcohol market

As vodka comes under the spotlight amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, IWSR takes a deeper look at the Russian alcohol market.

Russia is the 4th largest alcohol market in the world in terms of volume, with imports accounting for 9% of total consumption. Whisky makes up 5% of Russia’s spirits consumption, and a third of its spirits imports. 91% of Russia’s whisky consumption is from imported whisky. While there have been calls to ban Russian-made goods in light of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, boycotts of Russian vodka brands will have a fairly minimal impact on Russian vodka producers. Any significant impact is more likely to be symbolic.

While Russia is the largest vodka producer in the world, with over 30% of global production, the vast majority (over 90%) of Russian-made vodka is consumed domestically.

Outside of Russia, the UK, Germany, the US and Israel round out the top five markets for Russian-made vodka, although volumes are relatively small.

Russian vodka accounts for under 3% of all vodka consumed in Europe (excluding CIS) by volume.

In the US, the world’s second largest vodka market by volume, Russian vodka accounts for less than 1% of all vodka consumed. Approximately half of all vodka consumed in the US is made in the US. While vodka is the country’s largest export, Russia is also a relatively large producer of beer and wine – though much of this is consumed domestically.

Russian beer makes up 1% of the global beer market. Over 99% of Russian beer is consumed domestically.

Similarly, Russia produces 2% of the world’s still wine, with almost all of it consumed locally.

Russia also produces 6% of the world’s sparkling wine, with 99% of it consumed domestically.

Grey Goose and Martini Cocktails

Grey Goose and Martini bring you the perfect way to cut through the winter chills and get in the holiday spirit with these perfect-for-winter cocktails. Bask in the winter sun with a Grey Goose Aperitivo Espresso with orange zest. Precede lunch with a Dry Apple Martini and enjoy the benefits of an apple a day all while keeping the seasonal gloom away! Relish cocktail hour with a Grey Goose Old-Fashioned on the rocks, and see for yourself why this oldest cocktail has stood the test of times. Keep the festivities alive even when the temperature drops.

APERITIVO ESPRESSO

A delightful mid-day aperitif! Coffee and vodka meet tonic water and orange zest to give it the freshness necessary to brighten up any afternoon.

Glass

Wine Glass

Garnish

Orange Zest

Occasion

Aperitif, Brunch

Ingredients

1 part Grey Goose Vodka

1 part Unsweetened Coffee

Tonic Water

Orange Zest

Method

Build in wine glass in this order: Grey Goose Vodka, coffee, tonic water, orange zest

GREY GOOSE OLD FASHIONED

As one of the oldest cocktails in the world. It’s easy to see why it has stood the test of time. Nowtry it with a simple Grey Goose Vodka twist instead of whiskey.

Glass

Rocks

Garnish

Orange Zest

Occasion

Aperitif, Cocktail Hour, Digestif

Ingredients

50 ml Grey goose Vodka

2 tsp Demerara Brown Sugar

Dash of Hot Water

Dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Orange Zest

Method

1 Add the sugar and water to a rocks glass, then stir to dissolve.

2 Add orange zest.

3 Slowly trickle in Grey Goose and cubed ice, piece by piece, stirring throughout.

4 Top with cubed ice to serve.

MARTINI DRY APPLE

Ingredients

2 parts Martini Extra Dry

¼ part apple juice

1/3 part Manzana Verde

1/8 part apple syrup

2 tsp caster sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Half a green apple

Method

Shake all the ingredients with cubed ice then double strain into a chilled martini cocktail glass. Garnish.

Garnish

Apple slice

Glass

Martini cocktail glass

Background

A modern interpretation of the Apple Martini

India’s Most Expensive Unknown Vodkas

In this video we take a look at India’s Most Expensive Unknown Vodka’s. Usually consumers always tend to pick vodkas that are more affordable or known to them. But did you know that there are Vodkas in a Super Premium Category as well which are more expensive?

So in this video we take a look at some of these Vodka’s and see how they taste. The ABV % of the Vodkas are 40% and they are available online select states.

This video is for entertainment purpose only and the magazine, channel and the host do not promote alcohol consumption.

Best places for Drinking Around the World

While drinking at night is very popular, day drinking during Covid times has also gained traction. There are a huge variety of day drinking destinations and beverage options around the world, from public parks in South Korea to cozy bars in Belgium to the beaches of Brazil. We look at some of the best drinking destinations in alphabetical order, first by country and then by city.

Mendoza, Argentina is ideal for day drinking

The entire Mendoza wine region is designed for day drinking, with its affordable wine tastings, winery lunches with wine pairings and beautiful weather year-round. But the creme de la creme of Mendoza winery lunches is the five-course lunch with (bottomless!) wine pairings at Bodega la Azul in the Uco Valley.

Yerevan, Armenia

The best things to do in Yerevan, Armenia, is drink wine. Saryan Street is the city’s “wine street”, famous for its Karas Wine. A great atmosphere for getting work done while enjoying a glass of wine or two.

Maffra, Australia

On a sunny day, both locals and visitors love to do some weekend day drinking by meeting up with friends, sitting around and trying some of Blue Gables’ amazing wines. There is nothing better than sipping from a chilled bottle of Moscato wine, sharing a wood-fired pizza and relaxing in this chilled-out environment.

Melbourne, Australia

There is no better way to spend a sunny day drinking in Melbourne, Australia than sipping prosecco outside at one of Melbourne’s many famous bars.Light, bubbly and refreshing, prosecco is the perfect drink to linger over as you relax in the sun.In recent years, Australian producers have mastered the art of Italian prosecco and you can find their drops all over town. The Australian proseccos come from the King Valley region, produced by Italian migrant families Dal Zotto and Pizzini. A seat at Arbory Bar on the Yarra River, next to Flinders Street station, offers a change of scenery and a unique venue in the middle of the river. Ponyfish Island is where your prosecco adventures in Melbourne continue in the shade of the Southbank bridge. It’s the kind of quintessential hidden bar that Melbourne is known for.

Sydney, Australia

The Bondi area in Sydney, Australia is the perfect place to day drink among other cheerful day drinkers. This is mainly due to the Bondi beach and Bondi Junction areas being popular with backpackers who don’t need much of an occasion to get their party on. It’s a popular pastime for the working holiday-makers in Sydney, who often start day drinking after an early finish on a Friday. This can continue throughout the weekend and culminates in the Sunday session which starts sometime on Sunday morning and ends when the pub closes.Most pubs in the area open early and have a very casual feel so you needn’t get dolled up for day drinking session.The ideal day drink in Bondi is beer and wine is also perfectly acceptable for those of us who can go the day-drinking distance on the vino.

Brussels, Belgium

A mere 20 minutes from the bustle of Brussels’ Grand Place, you’ll find the commune of Saint Gilles. Described by its mayor as the place where the world comes to meet, it’s an opportunity to see the real Brussels, Belgium. Here, alongside fabulous Art Nouveau buildings by the architect Victor Horta, you’ll find life lived among friends and family. You’ll find that life plays out both around you and with you in the bars of Saint Gilles.If you’re a fan of Belgian beer, then there are plenty of choices to sit back and enjoy day drinking in Brussels with a favourite brew. One popular venue is Union and Egalite which keeps more than 90 beers in a long bar studded with chandeliers. Make a day drinking date with a glass of the splendid Orval, and feel the sheer pleasure of being in Brussels.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Without a doubt, the favourite location for a spot of day drinking is Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.Either way, Copacabana Beach is awesome at all times of the year. And the drink of choice is Caipirinha. This is the most famous cocktail anywhere in Brazil. It is made from a spirit called cachaça, which comes from sugar cane. The cocktail is very simple to make: simply crush ice, lime juice and brown sugar, and then mix in some of the cachaça.Capirinhas are incredibly refreshing and very, very cheap to get anywhere in Brazil, making them perfect for day drinking in the hot sun.

Calgary, Canada

Although it’s not your typical cocktail, any good Canadian will tell you there is nothing like a Caesar to kickstart your day drinking session. Caesar is its birthplace, Calgary, Alberta.Think of a Caesar as the spicy, wilder cousin of a Bloody Mary – vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Clamato juice (yes, that’s clam and tomato juice!), served with a celery salted rim and typically topped with delicious garnishes such as pickled beans, asparagus or olives. But don’t let the clam juice throw you off! This cocktail is super popular across Canada.

Ontario, Canada

For a day of activity visit Prince Edward County, Ontario, for a craft brewery tour by bicycle. The County lies a few hours outside of Toronto, and is an increasingly popular craft beer hub for locals and tourists alike.Prince Edward County (PEC) is farmland-turned-wine and beer region with a vibrant art scene and food that compliments it. As the day wears on, try Grandpa’s Coffee Stout at Parson’s as you relax in oversized Muskoka chairs. If you like sour beers, 555 Brewery is for you with its Jail Cell Sour Series. Their pizzas are delicious.Finally, end your day of beer and biking at Sandbanks Provincial Park in PEC. Here you’ll find Ontario’s white sand beaches lining some of the clearest freshwater in the world. It’s the perfect place to have a campfire and toast some marshmallows, and maybe enjoy a couple more evening brews as you relax beneath the stars.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba is known for its nightlife, but the truth is Cubans also love to drink rum during the day. Most tourists spend their time in Old Havana, which is a gorgeous and home to several bars claiming that Hemingway once drank there, but the more modern side of Havana, is where the locals go drinking.A good spot for day drinking in Havana is Playa del Estes, just outside of the city center. This beach is where locals visit on weekends. For a cocktail in Havana try 403 O’Reilly in Old Havana, a popular gin bar that also has other mixed drinks.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Czech Republic is known for its beers. Český Krumlov is also filled with wonderful locations for an afternoon glass of local wine. The veranda at Papa’s Restaurant is ideal for a little picnic beside the Vltava River in the shadow of Krumlov Castle and indulge in some day drinking as you watch the kayakers pass by.

Épernay, France

Épernay is a great destination for champagne lovers. In fact, Épernay is the capital of the Champagne area! It is in Épernay where the most famous champagne brands like Moët Chandon and Mercier have their headquarters and vineyards, but there are also other independent champagne makers with interesting proposals.The champagne is produced in a very limited area, with very specific kind of grapes and a very specific process. Any drink produced out of this area or without following these rules cannot be called champagne; that’s why the champagne is so exclusive!Épernay is well connected by train, which makes of Épernay an excellent day drinking day trip from Paris or Reims.

Berlin, Germany

Beer is German’s drink of choice. Berlin, Germany is to join the locals for a frosty glass of cold beer, preferably at a sidewalk picnic table or another busy location that lends itself to people watching and meeting new travel friends.

Munich, Germany

Munich’s annual Oktoberfest festival is one of the best places in the world for some serious day drinking and a great party atmosphere.

Dublin, Ireland

O’Donoghue’s Bar is a historically significant drinking place located 15 Merrion Row in Dublin, Ireland. It is a popular pub that has attracted tourists from all over the world for over 50 years. O’Donoghue’s is known for its amazing, live, traditional Irish music, and it’s the place that introduced the popular band The Dubliners in 1960s. The bar is also frequented by other world renowned Irish traditional music bands and artists, whose pictures are displayed inside the pub.Considered to be one of the most authentic Irish pubs in the country, this bar does not only offer good entertainment, but also good drinks. A popular day drinking pub as well, O’Donoghue’s Bar is open from 10 am to midnight daily. There’s no better place to experience Ireland in an authentic way other than to gobble down a pint or two of Guinness while listening to traditional Irish songs.

Verona, Italy

Dining al fresco in the town square, dressed to the nines, wearing designer shades and sipping a great cocktail might seem like the ways of the rich and famous, but any Italian tourist can enjoy this day drinking tradition!Walk along the rim of Piazza Bra in the heart of Verona, Italy to see cafes filled with locals and visitor alike. Mid-day they might be enjoying antipasti, formaggio, or a late lunch, but in their glasses, many will sport the blood orange aperitif very popular in this region, an Aperol.Nicknamed “Ape” by the locals, this liquor can be served on the rocks, or more commonly in an Aperol Spritz – a combo of Aperol, Prosecco, soda and an orange slice. However you serve it, this drink is meant to be enjoyed during happy hour, to open your palate for the evening meal to come!

Negril, Jamaica

When you are in Jamaica you will always hear people say “give me a Red Stripe” when they are at the beach bar. They are referring to Red Stripe beer, the most popular beer brand in Jamaica.Negril Beach is a few miles of white sand beach dotted by hotels and the quintessential beach bars. You can basically work your way down the beach, stopping at the various beach bars to enjoy a Red Stripe beer or a rum. The beach bars are also a great place to people watch, enjoy the vibes and make new friends. At the end of your day drinking, you’ll get to watch the famous Negril sunset.

Maldives

Day drinking cannot get any better than on an exotic island resort in the Maldives. The Paradise Island Resort, otherwise known as Lankanfilnolhu in the north atoll in the Maldives, is a pristine white sand luxury resort island best for strolling around… with vodka, of course!The Maldives is a tropical country and it gets pretty humid during the daytime, so the best way to beat the heat is by sipping a coconut vodka cocktail. The extremely refreshing coconut vodka is served at the Hulhangu bar, a sea-facing bar at the Paradise Island Resort. To give it a more exotic touch, the drink is served in a traditional Maldivian coconut. The refreshing flavour of the coconut, mixed with vodka and topped with lemon and mint leaves, is the ideal beverage to drink on a sunny afternoon at the beach.Hydrating and refreshing, sipping a coconut vodka cocktail at the Hulhangu bar’s seafront porch is something that everyone should have the good fortune to experience.

Mexico City, Mexico

Xochimilco in Mexico City is a series of canals that wind around chinampas, or artificially created islands with small farms, sometimes referred to as ‘floating gardens’. Bright, gondola-like boats crowd the canals, manoeuvred by a driver with a long pole. A boat can fit up to 20 people, and you can rent one by the hour. Smaller boats weave around the bigger ones, selling all kinds of snacks and beverages.Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail. A litre-sized soda cup is filled with lime juice and Dos Equis beer, then the rim is smeared with spicy Mexican tamarindo candy and chili powder.Mexican Tequilas too are world famous. Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from agave. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, but while tequila is only made from one type of agave plant (blue agave), mezcal can be made from 28 types of agave, including blue agave.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of the best places to enjoy a day of relaxing day drinking is in Amsterdam. It’s actually acceptable in the Netherlands to sit on a lovely cafe balcony and sip on a beer in the afternoon while you people watch and chat with friends. Luckily, you don’t need to only drink Heineken. There are lots of great cafes and beers to choose from. A favourite spot in Amsterdam is Brouwerij ’t IJ. This craft brewery in Amsterdam (next to a windmill!) is open all afternoon and closes early in the evening, so you actually need to get started early if you intend to sample their fantastic beers. Otherwise, you can head up to Amsterdam Noord to sample beers from the Oedipus, another great craft brewery.

Marlborough, New Zealand

The New Zealand wine region of Marlborough is superb area in which to day drink your way through a series of amazing wineries. You can easily rent a bicycle and cycle through ten wineries in a small area… or you can hire a driver and make it a heck of a lot easier. Whichever way you decide to go, Marlborough is a great wine region where Sauvignon Blanc dominates, but smaller grapes will win your taste buds.Here in Marlborough you’ll find small boutique wineries like Gibson Bridge Winery and the up-and-coming Wairau Cove, alongside internationally known Cloudy Bay, and if you want a beer at the end of the day, there’s always the craft brewery, MOA!

El Nido, Philippines

When considering the best places in the world for day drinking you’d be amiss to exclude El Nido in the Philippines from your list. El Nido is an eco-tourism hotspot with beaches are to die for and (very importantly!) the booze is cheap!When you’re sitting on the beach, being served chilled, fresh coconuts filled with generous amounts of Filipino Don Papa rum is the best experience.

Krakow, Poland

Hot mulled wine is quite popular in many places, but have you heard of hot beer? “Hot” and “beer” are two words that one wouldn’t normally associate together, but hot beer is actually is an interesting beverage and if you are visiting Poland, you must try it.Hot beer is served in most bars all over Poland. However, the bars in Krakow are especially popular.Wrega Pub is located in the Kazimierz area of Krakow, making it an ideal place to enjoy some day drinking after a spot of sightseeing.

Lisbon, Portugal

Ginjinha is a liqueur synonymous with Lisbon, Portugal. Made from Ginja or Morello cherries, sugar and fortified wine, it is the go-to drink for locals and visitors alike, and any visit to Lisbon would be complete without sampling at least one Ginjinha in Lisbon.The famous cherry liqueur was drunk by the late Anthony Bourdain when he filmed his television show, No Reservations, in Lisbon. Apparently, he enjoyed a number of glasses of Ginjinha with the locals.Porto’s most famous tipple is undoubtedly port wine. This sweet, fortified wine originates a few hundred kilometres upstream in the Portugal’s Douro Valley, but thankfully you don’t need to go far to start enjoying it. The cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, have been storing oak barrels of port wine for centuries.

South Africa

Wine tasting is a great excuse for day drinking, and it allows you to sample delicious wines in beautiful settings.Visiting South Africa’s Cape Winelands is the perfect excuse to start day drinking delicious wines early in the morning.

Soju in South Korea

South Korea is by far one of the best day drinking destinations in the world. South Korea is actually the country that consumes the most alcohol in the entire world, because of their great love for soju, a traditional Korean spirit. You will find day drinking to be a common activity among the locals. Most convenience stores have tables and chairs set up outside for people to enjoy their snacks, beer and soju any time of the day or night.

Girona, Spain

There is one form of day drinking that is perfectly acceptable throughout the Catalan province of Spain – taking a vermouth.Vermouth is a big deal in Catalonia, with Vermouth bars opening around 11:00 am, and closing around 3:00 or 4:00 pm. Vermouth is a fortified wine, served over ice, with a lemon slice and often an olive stuffed with anchovies on the rim. It is best enjoyed with a few little tapas, including a tortilla espanola, olives or anchovies.The best place for vermouth in Catalonia is in Girona, in the Costa Brava.

Malmo, Sweden

Winters in Sweden are a challenge. Enter Akvavit, or Aquavit, to the rescue. Aquavit is an alcohol that has been used to warm the Scandinavian body, mind, and spirit since the 15th century.Akvavit is distilled from grain and potatoes, and is flavoured with herbs and spices. It has a distinct flavour that admittedly has to grow on you. But once it does, yippee, as it provides a nice warm feeling to ward off the early darkness and short winter days.Not for the faint of heart, Aquavit is 40% alcohol by volume, or 80 proof by US standards. It will kick your butt and take you prisoner if you have too much.Still, Aquavit is such an important part of Scandinavian culture that it is used to toast weddings, graduations and Christmas dinners. Typically served as shot, it is consumed after singing a song, called a snapsvisa or a “schnapps song”.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand is good for many things – seeing all the temples, eating your body weight in pad Thai and spending the day in the sun with a Chang beer. And if you’re going to do this, there’s only one place to do it right: Khao San Road.

New Orleans, USA

While you can find daiquiris and Irish coffees anywhere, only the Tropical Isle Bar in the French Quarter sells Hand Grenades. The recipe for the Hand Grenade originated here in the late 1980s and is patented by its owners. The drink is frozen and sugary sweet, with a melon flavour, and it is served in a tall green container shaped like a hand grenade. This is all perfect to mask what it actually contains – vodka, rum, gin, grain alcohol, and melon liqueur!The Tropical Isle Bar even has its own mascot for the Hand Grenade and over a million drinks are sold every year!

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

When it comes to day drinking piña coladas, there is no better place to enjoy the pineapple, coconut and rum concoction than Barrachina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barrachina, a restaurant nestled in the heart of Old San Juan, claims to have been the birthplace of the piña colada in 1963. Be advised though, there is disagreement that the piña colada originated a few years prior at the Caribe Hilton.

Santa Ynez, California, USA

The Santa Ynez Valley in southern California, USA, is a fantastic place for drinking! The Santa Ynez Valley is a wonderful part of the world where the sun shines warmly for much of the year and winters are mild. The rolling hills are covered in vineyards and horse ranches. The quiet roads curl around between fields and buildings.This region is also renowned for its chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, and is home to around 120 wineries. Many of these California wineries open their doors to people who want to come and indulge in some wine tasting.

Sonoma County, USA

Wine is life in Northern California. The north part of the state is known for its vast range of wineries, wine makers and wine culture.Sonoma County is one of the spots that you can’t miss. If you are looking for a day of great wine, day drinking and some beautiful scenery, Sonoma County is the place to go. It is a short twenty-minute drive from the Santa Rosa Airport or roughly two hours from San Francisco International Airport. Bourbons, Tennessee whiskies are also popular in US bars.In India, Goa and Pondicherry are also ideal locales for drinking. Feni is a popular tipple of Goa. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore are big markets. Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata and Nashik are other popular cities for drinking.

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.

India Glycols Ltd forays into IMFL

India Glycols is a leading company that manufactures green technology based bulk, specialty and performance chemicals and natural gums, spirits, industrial gases, sugar and nutraceuticals. After becoming a market leader in the Country Liquor segment with the famous brand Bunty and Bubly, the company is now ready to make their foray into the IMFL with their new launches, Amazing Vodka and Single Reserva Whisky. Ambrosia spoke to the Management Team of the brand in an exclusive interview.

With chemicals being the primary cornerstone of India Glycols Ltd business, the company continues to enjoy an undisputed leadership position in certain segments over two decades. And liquor being a by-product of the chemical distillation process, it was only natural to foray into this business.

While country liquor industry was the mainstay of the liquor division with their popular brand Bunty and Bubly selling 1.32 crore cases per month as against the next best-selling brand, which is less than 50%, the company will shortly launch their first 2 products in the Vodka and Semi Premium Whisky category, Amazing Vodka and Single Reserva Whisky.

The Chairmanof India Glycols Limited (IGL), Mr. U S Bhartia felt that IMFL Division should also be nurtured and brought up especially following the success of its country liquor. These sentiments are also echoed by Rupark Sarswat, CEO, India Glycols Ltd ‘the logical step for us when we started to explore consumer market was to look at country liquor and then much more market intensive areas like IMFL. We are looking to engage in the market, continue to take feedback but make sure that the way we build our business is slow, steady and solid.’

With the consumers constantly looking to upgrade and premiumisation being the focus for IGL ‘the vodka will be launched in three variants Amazing Plain Vodka, Amazing Green Apple Vodka and Amazing Orange Vodka for the time being while the Single Reserva Whisky will be launched in the semi-premium category with a unique blend and offering’ said Raju Vaziraney, Advising – President, IMFL for India Glycols Ltd.

Despite the flat growth in the vodka industry, the decision to foray into the vodka market stems from the fact that the consumer is moving towards flavours adds Vaziraney. “You will be happy to know the vodka market is 60% flavours and 40% plain and the consumer is looking to flirt. Flavours are the future of the vodka market and they will drive the growth of vodka.”

Although the precise price point for the Vodka isn’t known yet it is expected to be in the popular category where it will compete with the likes of the most popular brands by market share in the segment. However what’s interesting about the vodka is that it is five time distilled liquid which IGL feels will provide a very smooth and refined taste to the consumer.

When it comes to the Single Reserva Whisky, it will be a unique offering which is expected to be priced under Rs. 1000 depending on the State that you are in. The whisky is blended with Indian Single Malts making it a unique offering. This is a new concept of blending with Indian single malts which was done after doing extensive blend research with the help of the known blender Peter J. Warren.

Currently IGL plans to focus on these two brands and are looking to grow their portfolio stepwise following the success of these brands. ‘We are not going to take any shortcuts to success, put more money, gain volume and build stocks. We want the consumer to be delighted’ adds Vaziraney.

The IMFL brands are manufactured at the company’s Gorakhpur plant. S.K. Shukla, Head of Operations & Business Manager said that, “I have been at the Gorakhpur plant from where we started our IMFL journey since last year May 2020. Besides that global pandemic till date the achievement has been excellent and we hope that this new product Single Reserva Whisky and Amazing Vodka will be great success in the future with the help of Ambrosia’s support.”

B. P.Singhal, Procurement and Projects engineering, IGL adds that we have selected best of the packaging material, bottle design, which can create a stir in the market, mainly for the Vodka. We are looking to target the youth because vodka is typically consumed by the youth. Keeping these factors in mind we have selected the bottle and packaging for both the products.

With the overall market for Vodka estimated to be about 6 million cases, IGL is looking to grab 15% market share in the vodka segment. A success that T P Sharma, Sales Head(HOD), IGL is confident in replicating following their Bunty Vodka Green Apple Flavour Tetra Pack launch in UP, which has already cornered a market share of 42% in six months.

Both the products will be rolled out in the UP and Uttarakhand markets first with Delhi and few other States as the next options in four-five months time. By the festive period IGL is looking to have their products in more States. Both Amazing Vodka and Single Reserva Whisky will be sold via the on-trade channels with IGL looking at ATL and digital activities to promote them.

Shriharsha Bandaluppi, EA (Executive Assistant) to CMD and General Manager Strategy, said, “we are coming up full throttle by using the social media channels like Facebook, Instagram. We are also identifying the key influencers, all sorts of new age trends etc. specially strengthening the brand position with shoots, signage, posts etc.”

Women in the Dry State of Gujarat are Jumping on the Alcohol Consumption Bandwagon!

Earlier, we reported that binge drinking among women has been increasing steadily over the past few years. Thirteen percent of adult women have reported binge drinking four times a month on an average while consuming five drinks per binge. A 2019 survey conducted by TU Dresden in Germany found that Assam led alcohol consumption among women in India. However, the North-eastern state is not the only Indian state where alcohol consumption has increased drastically. Gujarat, the Dry State, is climbing up the charts steadily too.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released recently for the year 2019-20, it was discovered that the number of women consuming alcohol in the Dry State has doubled in the last four years. The survey studied a total of 33,343 women and 5,351 men from Gujarat. 200 women (0.6 percent) and 310 (5.8 percent) reported that they consumed liquor. 

Previously, in the NFHS-4 Survey (2015-16), the sample under study in the state included 22,932 women and 5,574 men amongst whom 618 men (11.1 percent) claimed they drank liquor while only 68 women (0.3 percent) claimed the same.

A comparison between both the surveys shows that while the number of women consuming alcohol in Gujarat has doubled, the number of men doing the same has nearly halved.

Gaurang Jani, a sociologist, said “The middle class and upper middle class have embraced the party culture in recent times. As a result, women in families have also started consuming liquor. Earlier, men used to go out to drink. Now, a new culture of consuming liquor in family parties has emerged. People are throwing family parties to celebrate even small events. Moreover, kitty parties have also contributed to higher liquor consumption among women, NRIs are also bringing liquor with them and enjoying it during house parties here with relatives.”

Jani thus pointed out that the rise in party culture as well as the growing acceptability of drinking in society has contributed to the rise in the number of women drinkers.