Wine And Cheese Affaire

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Introducing the new spirits India will be enjoying in 2024.

 18-April-2024 | 851 Views |  1 Min Read 

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The Indian Single Malt category has been experiencing a yearly growth rate of 42 percent, significantly outpacing the 7 percent growth seen in imported whisky.

Predicting a prosperous year ahead for whisky makers in India in 2024 doesn’t require exceptional foresight. In the previous year, India claimed the title of the world’s largest consumers of Scotch whisky. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), Scotch consumption in India has surged by 200 percent over the last decade. In 2022 alone, Indians savoured a staggering 219 million bottles of the renowned beverage.

However, our consumption didn’t stop there. We also indulged in substantial quantities of Indian single malt, a category witnessing a remarkable growth rate of 42 percent annually, surpassing the 7 percent growth of imported whisky. In December of last year, Pernod Ricard became the second multinational, following Diageo, to introduce its own Indian single malt.

According to Krishna Nukala, a whisky consultant based in Hyderabad, this momentum will continue unabated this year. Nukala predicts, “Many local distilleries have high-quality malt spirits ready – we may witness the launch of at least three new Indian single malts this year.

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Dahanu-based South Seas Distilleries and Ugar Sugar Works, located near Belgaum, exemplify the legacy alcohol and beverage distilleries mentioned by Nukala. South Seas, one of the country’s largest grain-based distilleries, introduced Crazy Cock Rare, aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, and Dhua, a lightly peated single malt, in December of last year. Meanwhile, Ugar Sugar Works, a major producer of rectified spirit and ethanol, launched its 4-year-old and 7-year-old single malts in Karnataka earlier in 2023.

Hemant Rao suggests it will be intriguing to observe how multinational companies adapt to the evolving dynamics of the premium whisky market in India. He notes that post-Covid, import volumes for multinational beverage companies have generally been subdued, as they grapple with supply chain disruptions. While two of them have already introduced their own single malts, others are devising plans for their ‘Indian’ whiskies. Rao, founder of the Single Malt Amateur Club, poses the question: Will 2024 witness a shift in how these multinationals approach the Indian market?

Year of craft rum?

Vikram Achanta anticipates rum to be another standout spirit this year. He suggests that this might be the year when craft rum gains momentum. There’s a growing interest in high-quality rum, with notable products like Ron de Ugar and Pipa already making waves, according to Achanta

.Pipa, crafted from jaggery spirit and aged in Ruby Port Wine casks, is produced by Nao Spirits based in Goa. Nao Spirits, known for igniting the gin craze in India with Greater Than, received a 22.5 percent stake acquisition from Diageo India in 2022.

We dedicated almost four years to crafting Pipa,” stated Anand Virmani, the co-founder of the company. “However, we were resolute in our belief that the premium rum segment required an authentic, artisanal, and distinctly Indian voice.” Pipa, priced at Rs 3,000 for a 500ml bottle, made its debut in Goa on January 2nd. The rum, named after the Portuguese word for barrel, is infused with black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, reminiscent of the flavours that initially attracted the Portuguese to the Malabar coast.

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Shrikant Hajare remarks that launching a premium rum was a logical and overdue step for Ugar Sugar Works. “Ugar, a small village with approximately 20,000 residents, revolves around Ugar Sugar,” he explains. “Situated right in the heart of sugarcane country, we boast the largest cane juice to ethanol plant in Asia.” Hajare, who oversees Ugar’s premium portfolio, emphasises the company’s deep roots in the sugarcane industry as a driving force behind their venture into premium rum.

Ugar’s single estate rum, a blend of matured rums and cane spirit, is currently available on shelves in Goa for Rs 1,300, and also in Karnataka. Soon, it will hit the shelves in Maharashtra alongside the single malts priced at Rs 5,200 (4YO) and Rs 8,000 (7YO).

“Rum drinkers tend to be more price-conscious compared to gin drinkers,” notes Hajare. “So, the transition may be slower. However, rum already constitutes about 13 percent of the brown spirits sold in India, indicating significant opportunities in the premium segment.”

Hajare’s upcoming plans include the launch of white and spiced rums, and potentially a reserve rum.

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