The top 10 best-selling Indian whisky brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
Indian whisky is enjoying vigorous growth as the category taps into the trend for premiumisation and recovers from years of uncertainty. SB looks at how the big players are performing.
The Indian whisky category experienced a solid year in 2018, with the majority of brands reporting double-digit growth. The environment is now normalising following the impact of demonetisation, state-speciﬁc prohibition measures, and the so-called ‘highway ban’ on liquor sales.
Among our top 10 list, there was little change at the top with the biggest brands retaining their coveted positions. Only two of the 10 Indian whiskies in our leaderboard witnessed a drop in sales – an indication that the category is heading in a healthy direction.
Click through the following pages to discover the largest Indian whisky brands listed in order of their nine-litre case sales.
Data is listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied to The Brand Champions 20189
% change: -4.0%
Place last year: 10
Maintaining its 10th place position on our list of best-selling Indian whiskies is Bagpiper, owned by Diageo-controlled United Spirits.
In 2018, the brand saw its sales fall for a second year, dropping by 4% to 5.6m. It could be another couple of years before the whisky can surpass the 7m-case-mark it hit in 2015.
Launched in 1976, Bagpiper has aimed to “create communication that synergises popular culture with Indian cinema”. Its ‘bagpiper sardar’ is widely recognised across the subcontinent.
9. Old Tavern
% change: -13.1%
Place last year: 7
Witnessing the biggest decrease in sales last year was United Spirits’ Old Tavern, which fell two places from its seventh place spot.
The brand, which recorded sales of 6.2m in 2018, continued to witness double-digit declines. Old Tavern and stablemate Bagpiper were the only brands in decline among our top 10 best-selling Indian whiskies list.
8. Blenders Pride
% change: 15.1%
Place last year: 9
Climbing one spot up our list is Pernod Ricard’s Blenders Pride brand, which recorded double-digit gains in 2018 to 7.3m cases.
The brand is one of the few top-selling Indian whiskies to witness uninterrupted growth over a number of years.
Launched in 1995, Blenders Pride is blended from Indian grain spirit and Scottish malt. According to Pernod Ricard, it commands close to 63% market share in the premium admix whisky segment.
% change: 16.5%
Place last year: 8
A former Indian Whisky Brand Champion, Radico Khaitan’s 8PM whisky continued to witness impressive growth in 2018, climbing one spot up to seventh in the best-selling list. The brand hit the 8m-case-mark, after growing 16.5% last year.
But the brand’s trajectory hasn’t always been so certain – according to latest Brand Champions figures, the brand was in steady decline between 2013 and 2015, but made a triumphant return to growth in 2015 with almost 40% volume gains.
6. Hayward’s Fine
% change: 10.2%
Place last year: 6
Maintaining its sixth place on the leaderboard is Hayward’s Fine, another brand owned by United Spirits. The brand experienced a more positive performance than some of its portfolio cousins in 2018, when volume sales grew by 10.2% to 9.4m cases.
Hayward’s Fine has had a mixed performance over the last five years, and is edging closer to reaching the 9.6m cases it achieved in 2014. If it continues its growth, the brand could hit the 10m-case-mark in 2019.
5. Original Choice
% change: 12.0%
Place last year: 5
Steady at number five is Original Choice, owned by John Distilleries. It was a successful year for the brand, which reported its largest sales to date, growing by double digits to 11.5m in 2018.
The potential of John Distilleries was evident to US company Sazerac, which acquired an equity stake in the business in October 2017. John Distilleries also produces the high-volume Bangalore Malt and the super-premium Paul John single malt brand.
4. Royal Stag
% change: 15.5%
Place last year: 4
Pernod Ricard’s Royal Stag Indian whisky held on to its fourth position in 2018, when case sales increased an impressive 15.5% to 21.6m.
The brand surpassed the 20m milestone for the first time, bringing it almost neck-and-neck with stablemate Imperial Blue.
3. Imperial Blue
% change: 19.3%
Place last year: 3
Imperial Blue, also owned by French firm Pernod Ricard, achieved massive volumes in 2018. Like the company’s Royal Stag brand, Imperial Blue also exceeded sales of 20m cases for the ﬁrst time ever.
The brand’s long-running campaign Men will be Men clearly resonates with the whisky’s 25- to 40-year-old male target audience since sales have soared from around 1m cases in 2000 to 22.7m last year.
Imperial Blue has witnessed consistent growth year after year, leading the brand to be named Indian Whisky Brand Champion in 2018.
2. McDowell’s No. 1 Whisky
% change: 10.0%
Place last year: 2
Once the world’s best-selling whisky brand, McDowell’s No.1 remains in second place among the world’s largest Indian whisky brands.
Last year, the United Spirits-owned brand reversed its declines to post double-digit gains of 10% to 29m – bringing it closer to the 30m milestone.
1. Officer’s Choice Whisky
% change: 6.3%
Place last year: 1
Oﬃcer’s Choice remains the world’s best-selling Indian whisky brand, shifting 34m cases in 2018 – a 6.3% increase.
Produced by Allied Blenders & Distillers, Officer’s Choice is also the world’s biggest-selling whisky across all whisk(e)y categories. The brand has a 40% share of the regular whisky segment.
The brand has sought to “aggressively enhance” the digital footprint of Officer’s Choice Blue Whisky to engage with millennials.
While the brand has maintained its top spot at the leaderboard for a number of years, it could be overtaken by McDowell’s No. 1 in the years to come.