Indian whisky booms

04 January, 2023

Domestic market

With nearly all of the category consumed domestically, it had to adapt during the pandemic, which saw disruptions to the local market, such as the ban of alcohol sales for a period in 2020. Chokalingam notes: “The domestic market was affected for two to three months, because they had a lot of lockdowns, the sale of alcohol was prohibited. So, the domestic market suffered but the export market did extremely well during the pandemic, to our surprise. I presume one of the possible reasons could be, in western countries in particular, people were still able to order their whiskies online.”

Rampur also felt the varying buying behaviour during the pandemic, and Banga saw a “shift in the channels”, leading to growth in online and off-trade with more consumption from consumers at home, “drinking less but better”. However, the brand differs from other Indian whisky brands, as Banga adds: “In fact, for us it is the other way around. Rampur is currently available in around 40 countries with a limited presence in India and that too of only one expression. Our single malt is currently on allocation, but we expect a lot more liquid to be available in the next 15-18 months. Thereafter, we will be expanding distribution to other markets as well as within India.”

Paul John Whisky felt disruptions during the pandemic in the way of its supply chain and disruptions for dry goods, such as bottles, corks and capsules.

Abraham notes: “The on-premise shutdown affected us severely as awareness of our brands is built on experiential consumption, however some of it shifted to home consumption. But with the world opened up we are now seeing an on-premise revival.” The brand is also seeing growth momentum in domestic and exports, with domestic growth being “near explosive”.

Looking ahead

With booming recovery post-pandemic, Indian whisky, and in particular single malt Indian whisky, is seeing a strong performance, but the road ahead is still uncertain.

For Amrut, Chokalingam says: “I’m not sure how we are going to be next year, because the recession is looming in America possibly and then in the UK as well. I don’t know how it’s going to affect sales, possibly it will. But this year, we have had good growth as a business and on the single malt side in particular, we have grown by 15-16% this year.”

Paul John has plans to increase its Select Cask portfolio with one or more expressions in wine cask finishes, while entering new countries, including Greece, Hungary, Andorra, South Korea and Luxembourg, with Rampur releasing more expressions to its Jugalbandi range, so the category is pushing forward, unfazed by global economic uncertainty.

As Chokalingam adds: “Living in the macroeconomic situation is something that is not in your hand or in mine. So we have to go with the flow next year and the year after to see how things unfold based on the global economy.”

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