India comes in from the cold

02 February, 2018

“As long as people have an open mind to try world whiskies, we have a trend setting in. Otherwise, blind tastings are also a way to break in.”

Indian whisky finds itself benefiting from a surge of interest in whiskies from non-traditional territories.

Chokalingam thinks the move away from age statements on many expressions of scotch whisky has led to a better understanding of maturation and that has made a difference.

“I think they are copying us because of the shortage of stocks,” he says. “Our position has been very clear from the beginning that age does not always matter. They are the ones who are now doing flip-flops.”

ISSUES OF AGE

Rampur’s Sanjeev Banga agrees that the issue of age has become far less important to the consumer.

“We are not making any age claim on the product though it is matured for a very long time in harsh Indian weather conditions,” he says.

“Even Scots admit ageing in India is about four times faster than Scotland. We feel age is just a number and should not cloud the consumer opinion.

“For us the most important thing is that the consumer should like the liquid and desire to have it repeatedly. Single malt consumers prefer uniqueness in the taste. They are always keen to try a new malt. “

Paul John’s Shilton Almeida thinks the consumer definitely understands more about maturation. “I believe after the Japanese whiskies were out in the market, people became aware of the fact that whisky matures faster in hotter climates,” he says.

“Consumers nowadays are intrigued and want to learn more about world whisky offerings and how it is different from whiskies from traditional areas. And they really appreciate them once tasted.

“But it could be the other way round too. With the love for whisky that I have, I personally feel that age is just a number. At the same time I would like to know more about it, and we can always find out a lot more in today’s digital world through various social media platforms from the brand and experts.”

The Indian whisky producers certainly feel that the somewhat patronising Rest of the World tag for anything outside the five traditional whisky-making regions is well and truly consigned to the history books. The next step is for India to break free of the New World whisky label, too.

Overall consumer understanding has been much better than in the past and I see this movement will continue in terms of education” says Chokalingam. “We have a strong world whisky movement now, and perhaps we will get an Indian whisky movement in a few years’ time I guess.”

Absolutely, says Almeida.

“Personally, I can see that in the future we will have a separate nation-wise category for whiskies such as Indian whiskies, Irish whiskies, Japanese whiskies, etc, rather than calling them all ‘world whisky’. And why not when there are so many distilleries opening up across the globe with such fantastic liquids? This is just the beginning for me, we have a long way to go.”

With all three distilleries ramping up stocks in 2018, and other distilleries set to join the fray, Indian whisky is stepping back up to the plate and reclaiming its place in the sun. The future for it looks very exciting indeed.

Indeed, it may well be that the real winners in the Brexit stakes will be them, and not the British. Sorry Boris.





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