Amrut Distilleries’ pioneering journey as the first Indian single malt began with the launch of the Amrut Single Malt whisky in Glasgow, in 2004. In 2010, after whisky guru Jim Murray rated Amrut Fusion the world’s third-best whisky in his annual Whisky Bible, demand shot up. Today, the 74-year-old Bangalore-based distillery’s single malt whiskies are much sought after by whisky lovers across the world, and its competitors, from Paul John to Piccadily Distilleries, unfailingly credit it for paving the way for them.
Amrut, which launched its whiskies in India in 2010, has always been accused of, and not unjustifiably so, of favouring exports, but today it sells more single malts in India than anywhere else in the world. In this interview, Rakshit Jagdale, the managing director of the company, speaks about the potential of the premium alcohol segment in India; his next launch, a single barrel rum, and missed opportunities. Excerpts:
India is now the largest market for Amrut’s single malt whiskies. Were you expecting this development to take place sooner?
No, we did not anticipate the Indian market to be this big in terms of sales. It has come as a pleasant surprise. In terms of numbers, we will be touching about 60,000 nine-litre cases globally for our single malt whiskies this year. Then, we have the Amrut Amalgam (blended malt whisky) — that would be another 35,000 to 40,000 cases. If you only look at single malt whisky sold in India, we should be finishing the year at around 33,000 cases. These sales are driven by young consumers, and this is something we noticed a little after as we started our journey in 2010, in Bangalore, with the Amrut Fusion and Classic. As we moved along, we realised that the young Indian single malt whisky consumer is very knowledgeable and curious about whisky. You see the same thing at play in the EU, unlike, say, in the UK, where whisky is considered to be a middle-aged man’s drink. I think the inflection point came around 2014. By this time we had also entered Mumbai, and I remember sales virtually doubling, and after that, to be honest, we didn’t have enough stock to sell in India.