I first met Sukhinder Singh back in 2009 at a Whisky Show in London. His passion, knowledge & appreciation of whisky was infectious. Owner of the world famous Whisky Exchange and several other assets, Sukhinder is an international icon, in the world of premium spirits. Over the last 13 years & many drams later, I make it a point to meet him in London, every time I am in UK.
Sukhinder Singh and his brother were born into the world of drinks retailing. It was 1972 when Singh’s parents became the first Asians in the UK to be granted a liquor license and subsequently opened what became an award-winning off-licence in north-west London. When their parents decided to retire in 1999, the brothers took the difficult decision to sell the family business and founded The Whisky Exchange as an online shop, operating from a trading estate tucked away on the outskirts of west London. Now with three award-winning shops in the capital and an ever-growing website, the business enjoy global recognition as a purveyor of the finest whiskies, spirits and wine from around the world.
Sukhinder Singh heads retail The Whisky Exchange, London and the proud owner of a collection of over 10,0000 premium whiskies. Interestingly as a child, he used to collect coins and stamps. By the mid-1990s, Sukhinder was already in possession of a very large collection of whisky, having started collecting miniatures in the mid-1980s, progressing to full-size bottles a few years later. It is thanks to these deep roots in whisky retailing that Sukhinder Singh developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of whisky, in particular older bottlings, from around the world.
Having been named a Keeper of the Quaich 10 years ago, 2018 was Singh’s year to be invited to become a Master of the Quaich. Few names make it to become a Master of the Quaich, a recognition reserved only for those luminaries who are considered to have been ‘exceptionally constructive’ in making an ‘outstanding contribution’ to the industry. This prestigious title followed shortly after Singh was admitted as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, having obtained Freedom of the City of London. In 2018, Sukhinder was also recognised by the IWSC who awarded him the Outstanding Achievement in the Scotch Whisky Industry trophy.
Over an interesting & ‘spirited’ Interaction, we understand his views on the World of Whisky.
What`s next for Whisky Globally
Whisky continues to grow in popularity, I have always said that it is the most complex of all spirits and there is something for everyone
Good or bad but as its popularity grows, more pressure is put on stocks which leads to big price increases, and I believe this will continue.
There are new markets still to be opened like India, once taxes are reduced single malts will continue to grow in popularity.
Views on Investment in Whisky – Where should one Invest in Whisky
Whisky has become the number one investment asset over the last few years.
Prices of good collectable bottles can increase many times after a few weeks of release.This is good for the collector / investor but not so good for the drinker who may find these whiskies too expensive to open
There needs to be a balance between drinking and collecting.
What are the key areas impacting growth of premium spirits globally
Customers are starting to look at sustainability and carbon footprint and are choosing to buy local, this will have some impact on foreign brands.
Why do you need to buy imported gin and vodka when you have some good brands locally like Stranger & Sons gin which I love.
Where do you see significant growth – Sectors / Spirits / Socially
As I said above, I can see growth in good local brands.
Overall, most categories are doing well and still growing.
How are consumer trends changing & evolving in Europe
Through covid, a lot of consumers went back to the big brands so there is a lot of pressure on stock especially for aged products like Whisky and Cognac. Many products have been in and out of stock, my worry is this will continue for the next few years.
Which categories are poised for major growth in the next 3-5 years
Whisky, Rum and Tequila…
No one really knows tequila outside the US and UK.
Your views on the growth of the Indian Spirits brands, in the last few years with focus on Whisky & Gin
I am pleased that more and more Single Malt brands are being launched. This will create more interest for the category which can only be a good thing. I am sure that more gin and vodkas will evolve from craft distilleries which I am pleased about. Looking back, I always used to wonder why one of the largest spirit consuming countries had no global spirit brands, the time has come !! I now want to see someone do a great Indian blended whisky…
How encouraged are you with UK India FTA
It is the right way to go, Scotch should not be penalised against Indian whisky.
So what`s tomorrow for the Indian Spirits Industry
Time will tell, it still needs a good few years to establish itself to get global recognition. There will be good brands as well as average ones, but this is the way for the market to learn…
Whisky Exchange – The Next 3 Years ….
The Whisky Exchange is one of the most respected drinks companies in the world, we are looking for plans of how to grow Internationally as well as continuing to do what we do best which is to find and launch amazing new products.. We have a lot of exciting exclusive projects we are working on, some of which will start to be released at the end of the year
The Whisky Show – Whats New in 2022
There has been a lot of portfolio changes from brand owners so there will be many new products as always.
We are celebrating 50 years in the industry as a family and have some exciting products launching at the show and these will continue into next year.