Whisk(e)y has existed and fascinated us for centuries with its complex character and a wide taste spectrum. From legendary tales of craftsmanship, heritage & legacy to even tales of illicit distilling, Whisk(e)y carries a rich past, mapping the history of the world.
India is a whisky-drinking nation and for a long time we have identified whisky mostly with Scotch. Though over the last few years, we have started appreciating whisky across blends and malts, higher age variants or NAS and at times, discerning about the various cask finishes. Until now, we have not witnessed an active debate on Whisky’s Country of Origin.
Over time whisky has evolved and brands from across the world are trying to please the Indian palate. In the last few decades, American, Irish, Japanese and to some extent Canadian whiskies have complemented the evolving consumer taste by adding global offerings beyond Scotch Whisky. For instance, the American Whiskey category has seen a revival worldwide and business is all set to grow in India as well. Industry estimates indicate it to be second largest imported whisk(e)y category after Scotch in India and has been growing with a CAGR of more than 11% in the last few years.
Traditionally, from hamburgers to Coke to fried chicken to chocolate chip cookies, we Indians have loved all things American. However, lately increased exposure to the American culture through education, business trips and leisure travel has brought Bourbon closer to the Indian taste buds and witnessed a rise in the demand. Indian consumers are now considering American Whiskey for its taste, quality and the recall value that resonates with the brands. So, it comes as no surprise that Bourbon, America’s favourite whiskey is rapidly gaining popularity and exciting the palate of well-travelled Indians.
Crossing the boundaries of being America’s native spirit, today Bourbon is fast emerging as one of the most favoured spirit across India and Asia. This variant is flourishing at a time when age statement traditionally connected with the spirits category is losing relevance. India’s millennial drinkers are showing preference towards the American spirits even though Scotch continues to have its loyalists across the country. In fact, a few leading brands are also bottling Bourbon in India.
Bourbon’s notes are spicy, woody, fruity and floral along with the sweet aromatic tones of vanilla, caramel, corn, honey or butter scotch that appeal perfectly to the Indian taste buds.
Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the best bourbons that are now gaining popularity worldwide.
• Michter’s US*1 Bourbon Whiskey – A small-batch bourbon named after the oldest distillery in USA, with a history dating back to 1753 and has become a favourite of many. Michter’s has developed a cult following amongst bartenders in the world’s top on-premise accounts. It has been recognised in Drinks International’s 2017 Annual Bar Report as the #2 Top-Trending American Whiskey brand globally. What makes this one special is the 18-24 month maturation in casks that are first charred then air-dried. With notes of vanilla, cinnamon, toffee, oak and dried fruit, it is undoubtedly as delicious as it is smooth.
• Wild Turkey – A brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Co. with a rich heritage of over 150 years.
• Balcones – A new aged American Whiskey which is finding its way across European and select Asian markets.
It is evident that Bourbon is making a mark in the whisky category due to its distinctive character and appeal. And, over the years we will be witnessing a lot more patrons enjoying and adopting Bourbon as a preferred choice, which is also expected to fuel the growth of cocktail market in India.
Slainte and enjoy responsibly!