Beam Suntory creates Scotch and Bourbon blendBy Nicola Carruthers
Beam Suntory has created a blended whisky brand for the Indian market that combines Scotch and Bourbon, called Oaksmith.
Created by Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo, the brand is available in two variants: Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold.
The new launch aligns with Beam Suntory’s ambition to reach US$1 billion in sales in India by 2030 and is “key” to the firm’s growth strategy in the market.
Said to combine the “best of east and west in a bottle”, Oaksmith is a blend of imported Scotch malt whisky, Bourbon and grain spirits and is aged for at least four years in American oak barrels. The oak barrels inspired the name of the brand and the round bottle labels.
“While making this blend, I wanted to ensure that it resonates specifically well with the Indian audience while being truly international in its spirit,” explained Fukuyo.
“I travelled across the country to understand the different food cultures and flavours. Eventually what I saw, heard and tasted, helped me explore a variety of flavour profiles and finalise this harmonious blend which has the best of America, Scotland and Japanese craftsmanship. I am extremely proud as the final product completely reimagines what the future of Indian whisky can be.”
The whisky is described as “rich on the nose yet approachable and well-balanced on one’s palate with a bright, smooth and unexpectedly long finish”.
Housed in a six-sided bottle with a tall neck, Oaksmith’s ergonomic design pays tribute to Japanese craftsmanship.
In addition, Beam Suntory’s House of Suntory portfolio – including Japanese whiskies Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve and Hibiki Japanese Harmony, and Roku gin – have been launched in India. The brands will be available across all major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The launch “reinforces the company’s commitment to lead the growth and premiumisation of the Indian spirits market”.
George Kumekawa, representative for The House of Suntory, said: “In recent years, we have noticed a strong trend among Indians to opt for premium and craft gin as their spirit of choice as it has a softer flavour profile which is easier on the throat and refreshing in its appeal – perfect for brunches and refreshment occasions.
“With the introduction of Roku gin in India, we are looking to further build the market for both gin as well as craft spirits to help enthusiasts discover new tastes and experiences.”
Neeraj Kumar, managing director of Beam Suntory India, added: “We are thrilled by the appreciation that Hibiki and Yamazaki have received from consumers worldwide, and their popularity among spirits aficionados in India.
“The growing premiumisation of the Indian market and the appreciation for finely crafted spirits made this the right time to launch these brands, along with Roku gin. Indians today are well-travelled and exposed to global trends, which inspired the creation of Oaksmith for whisky lovers in India.”
Oaksmith and Oaksmith Gold launches today (19 December) in the Indian state of Maharashtra, followed by the rest of the country in due course. Oaksmith Gold is priced between 800-1,300 Indian rupees (US$11-US$18), while Oaksmith is priced between 600-900 Indian rupees (US$8-US$12).