Indian Whisky is an up-and-coming category in the global liquor market that is set to take the world by storm.
With an ever-expanding selection that reflects this growing trend, check out VIP Bottles’ range of Indian Whiskies to discover your new favourite spirit.
India is the largest whisky-drinking nation in the world, with data from 2014 showing that over 1.5 billion litres of the spirit were consumed within a single year.
Despite this national fervour for the spirit, whisky that is produced in India has historically struggled to reach wider audiences due to its unique manufacturing habits.
Most Indian whiskies are blended spirits which primarily consist of distilled molasses, the same ingredient rum is made from.
Because this doesn’t conform to the strict whisky regulations set out in EU legislation, many Indian whiskies must be sold overseas as a “spirit drink” or “Indian made foreign liquor.”
Since the 1980s, however, there has been a huge surge in the production of Indian Single Malt Whiskies which follow the classic guidelines of Gaelic spirits. These bottles tend to be lively and sweet in character, with notes of tropical fruits, caramel, and malt.
- Indian whiskies are some of the best-selling worldwide, with brands such as McDowell’s, Officer’s Choice, and Imperial Blue regularly topping sales lists
- Indian whiskies require a significantly shorter ageing period due to the country’s warm climate. In Scotland, 1-2% of the liquor will evaporate per year while in India this figure is closer to 10-12%
- The most expensive Indian whisky is the Amrut Greedy Angels 12 Year Old, priced at around £1000 a bottle
India was first introduced to whisky during the British Raj in the early 19th century, with large reserves of scotch being shipped to the country by colonialists.
One of these English occupiers, Richard Dyer, established India’s first whisky distillery in 1820. Situated in Kasauli at the foot of the Himalayas, Dyer felt that the clear spring water bore resemblance to Scottish waters and set out to recreate his favourite tipple.
Early efforts to produce scotch-style whisky in India were significantly impeded by national food shortages as there was not enough grain to produce alcohol. This led to distilleries using unconventional ingredients, mainly sugar molasses, to create whisky. Molasses-based whiskies soon became the norm in India and are still popular to this day.
A return to Gaelic-inspired whisky making occurred in the 1980s at the Amrut distillery. Amrut had been producing spirits for many decades, but in 1982 began experimenting with producing malted grain whiskies. India’s first ever single malt whisky was released by Amrut in 2004, sparking a trend in high-end Indian spirits that continues to grow today.
How should I drink Indian Whisky?
Indian whiskies tend to be on the sweeter side (similar to bourbon) so are great for drinking neat. They can also be used to create classic cocktails such as the Sour, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan.
What does Indian whisky taste like?
Indian whiskies tend to have a fruity, malty character with plenty of toffee, baked apple, banana, and almond notes.
Is Indian Whisky aged?
Whisky is often aged for a much shorter period in India due to its warm climate. Up to 12% of the liquor will evaporate in the space of a single year, compared to 2% in Scotland.
Because of this, it often said that a 3-year-old Indian whisky possesses the same character and depth as a 12-year-old scotch.