Top 10 best-selling Indian whisky brands
Despite the pandemic causing major disruption with the production and sale of Indian whiskies in 2020, last year saw the category begin to recover, with many brands recording double-digit growth over the 12-month period.
The coming year could see more big changes in the sector, especially for local producers.
The Maharashtra government’s decision to slash excise duty on Scotch from 300% to 150%, combined with the current free trade agreement talks between the UK and India which are likely to see the lifting of the 150% tariff on Scotch whisky in India, could mean that local whisky brands start to take a back-seat as international brands are given the opportunity to compete in the Indian market.
Only time will tell what the implications will be for Indian whisky brands, but the sector’s growth in what has continued to be difficult times for southern Asia is something to be celebrated.
For the fourth year in a row, the Indian Whisky Brand Champion 2022 title was given to Sterling Reserve, which achieved the biggest growth among the million-case sellers, but its 3.6m case sales weren’t enough to land it a spot in the top 10 biggest-sellers list.
Below, we count down the top 10 biggest-selling Indian whisky brands of 2021.
10. Old Tavern
% change: -3.3%
Place last year: 9
United Spirits-owned brands have taken 50% of the spots in the top 10 biggest-sellers list this year, despite Old Tavern seeing a drop of 3.3% over the last year.
In May, the Indian subsidiary owned by Diageo announced that it is selling numerous brands from its portfolio to the Singapore-headquartered Inbrew Beverages, including Old Tavern, in a deal which will allow United Spirits to focus on its ‘Prestige & Above’ line.
9. Royal Challenge
% change: 8.8%
Place last year: 10
Last year saw sales of Royal Challenge drop by almost a quarter, so it has been good to see the brand start to regain some of its losses following the damage caused by the pandemic.
Figures still haven’t quite reached those seen in 2019, when the brand saw sales of 5.5m cases, but things are certainly starting to look up.
% change: 6%
Place last year: 8
The United Spirits-owned Bagpiper has held onto its eighth place position for a second year.
Boasting a ‘light malty aroma with a hint of wood’, the spirit has returned to the upward trajectory it was on prior to the pandemic, with an encouraging 6% growth.
Although Bagpiper has not been included in the producer’s sale of 32 of its brands to Inbrew Beverages, the two companies have entered into a five-year franchise arrangement which will give Inbrew the option to buy the brand at a pre-agreed price at a later stage.
7. Blenders Pride
% change: 20.8%
Place last year: 7
Another non-mover in the list, the Pernod Ricard-owned Blenders Pride has seen very impressive growth over the last year, following a significant drop in 2020.
Despite the setback caused by Covid-19, the whisky, made from a blend of Indian grain spirit and Scottish malt, has surpassed its 2019 sales figures, climbing to the eight million-case mark with confidence.
% change: 21.2%
Place last year: 5
Despite dropping a place in the list, Radico Khaitan’s flagship whisky has seen yet another impressive boost over the last year, with a sales increase of two million cases.
8PM has witnessed steady growth since taking the Brand Champion title in 2017.
% change: 24.2%
Place last year: 6
Soon to join the portfolio of Inbrew Beverages, Haywards saw a great year of growth in 2021, achieving an upturn of 24.2% and taking its million-case sales figures into double figures.
Rising one position in the chart, this is the sixth consecutive year of growth for the brand which uses a blend of ‘extra neutral alcohol and flavourings’.
4. Royal Stag
% change: 20.8%
Place last year: 4
The pandemic hit the Pernod Ricard brand hard, but Royal Stag has now seen its recorded figures return to the 20m milestone it reached in 2019.
The whisky, which launched in 1995, helped to drive Pernod Ricard’s 14% rise in local brand sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2022 alongside its stablemate, Blenders Pride.
3. Officer’s Choice
% change: 11.5%
Place last year: 3
Allied Blenders & Distillers is not just the maker of India’s third most popular whisky, but it is also the producer of this years Indian Whisky Brand Champion, Sterling Reserve, so it is clearly doing something right.
Though Officer’s Choice hasn’t quite returned to its pre-Covid figures, which saw case sales exceed the 30 million mark for three years, sales have begun to climb.
2. Imperial Blue
% change: 13.4%
Place last year: 2
The 2018 Indian Whisky Brand Champion remains firmly on the podium for 2021 after witnessing a 13.4% increase in sales over the last year.
Imperial Blue suffered a significant sales drop in 2020, and has not yet surpassed the figures it reported in the year prior, but the outlook is good for the Pernod Ricard brand.
1.McDowell’s No.1 Whisky
% change: 17.2%
Place last year: 1
United Spirits-owned McDowell’s has taken the top spot for the third year in a row after seeing its sales sore past the 30 million mark in the last 12 months.
The brand will remain a part of the United Spirits portfolio following the mass sale of 32 of its brands to Inbrew Beverages, which is expected to be completed later this year, a move which aligns well with the Diageo subsidiary’s plans to focus on its more premium line.