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India’s Surging Whisky Market: A Global Force in Premium Single Malts

India has emerged as a dominant player in the global whisky market, now accounting for nearly half of all whisky bottles sold worldwide. Recently surpassing France, India stands as the largest market for Scotch whisky. Notably, seven out of the top 10 global whisky brands, by volume, are Indian, with names like Officer’s Choice, Royal Stag, and McDowell’s leading the way.

As a natural outcome of this growth, India has witnessed the rise of its own premium single malts, crafted with indigenous barley and locally distilled and matured. Brands like Rampur Distillery, situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, have gained international acclaim. Rampur’s Double Cask Malt, known for its dulce de leche sweetness and exotic floral notes, exemplifies the unique characteristics attributed to Indian single malts. The use of six-row barley from Rajasthan and Punjab, proprietary yeast, and Himalayan water with rich mineral content contribute to the distinctive flavour profile. The extreme temperature variations in the region, from freezing winters to scorching summers, play a crucial role in enhancing the whisky’s tropical fruity notes and gentle spices.

Heading northwest, the Piccadilly Distillery, producer of the Indri single malt, adds to India’s diverse whisky offerings. The flagship expression, Trini Three Wood, is celebrated for its fruity nuances evolving into a finish of cracked black pepper and fragrant Darjeeling tea. The distillery foresees the emergence of several new single malt distilleries in the coming years, driven by the growing interest in Indian spirits.

While some Indian distilleries adhere to strict Scotch whisky rules, others, taking advantage of India’s more flexible regulations, experiment with novel approaches. Diageo’s Godawan, distilled and aged in the desert state of Rajasthan, introduces unique elements like cask seasoning with ayurvedic botanicals. The result is a rich and velvety whisky with notes of black chocolate and cherry, showcasing India’s innovative contributions to the global whisky landscape.

Notably, Amrut, India’s first commercial single malt, launched in 2004, continues to play a pivotal role. Distilled in Bangalore, Amrut’s whiskies offer a fusion of Scottish distillation techniques and the unique Indian climate, yielding fruity characters with chocolate and vanilla undertones. As Indian spirits gain prominence globally, experts anticipate further growth, especially with an impending free trade deal between India and the UK on the horizon.

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