Brews & Spirits

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‘In India, Scotch is epitome of whiskies’

In India, Scotch is epitome of whiskies: Bacardi’s Vijay Dev

Consumers nowadays have demonstrated a growing affinity for experimenting with more options, especially in the whiskey segment. The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations says that by 2030, more than 26% of Indian drinks consumers are likely to move to higher-quality brands, and 24% will spend on newer categories of alcohol.

Bacardi India, a market leader in premium spirits, recently introduced the Dewar’s 8-YO Japanese smooth Mizunara oak cask finish blended Scotch whisky in India. Vijay Dev, Category Lead for Bacardi’s Global Whiskies, answered some questions.

 

India is now Scotch whisky’s largest export market by volume and exports have grown by more than 200% in the last decade, what’s your take on this growing whiskey market in India?

Being the largest whiskey market in the world and the largest importer of Scotch by volume, India has seen a tremendous demand for whiskies across categories, especially Scotch. Whiskey is an aspirational choice of spirit and Scotch whiskies are considered the epitome by Indian consumers.

The data reveals a similar trend, with IWSR 2021 insights revealing that 98% of the whiskey industry today is dominated by Indian whiskey, out of which 2.6% is contributed by Scotch. With a projected CAGR of 7.1% from 2021-26 (IWSR 2021), the Scotch market is only expected to expand in the country.

The growth of the Scotch whisky market in India presents a very exciting opportunity for us as a brand. Our endeavor is to continue to tap into the growth and gain market share across our Scotch offerings: Dewar’s, William Lawson’s and Aberfeldy.

We are very optimistic about the future landscape of the Indian whiskey market. Known for our rums and premium white spirits in the market, we will continue to accelerate ahead of the industry growth to establish Bacardi in India as a major player in the Scotch whisky category in the next 3-5 years.

 

What are some consumer trends around Scotch whisky that have caught your attention? How do you see that evolving?

Two trends that are massive in India are premiumisation and experimentation – and this is true for whiskey as well. New-age consumers want to drink less, but better, and are generally more open to trying out new brands in the market.

Indian and Scotch whiskies are the dominant categories in the market but, despite the continued popularity of these categories, consumers have also been exploring Japanese, Irish and Bourbon whiskies, and the popularity of these whiskies is also growing in the country.

For many Indian drinkers, whiskey is the aspirational drink, with Scotch being the leader. With a growing preference for premium products, there has been a widespread up-trade within the Indian whiskey space and from Indian whiskey to Scotch as well.

The category is also seeing an uptake among female drinkers, where many of them are moving to whisky with simple Highball serves, cocktails and mixers.

By keeping a keen eye on consumer trends and leaning into them with great agility and creativity, we have established ourselves as one of the fastest- growing international spirits Scotch whisky portfolios in the country.

We have also introduced the Dewar’s Japanese smooth Scotch whisky, which is the latest addition to our 8-year-old Cask Series globally, and the first of the portfolio to be launched in India.

In the coming years, we will continue adapting to our consumers’ preferences to offer new and relevant drinking choices and experiences to them year-on-year.

 

How do you see growing interest in Japanese whiskies pan out in the long run with Indian audiences?

The future for Japanese whiskey in India seems very exciting with consumers growing more discerning in their tastes and preferences as they look for novel, new and unique drinking experiences.

This preference for premium and unique products and experiences can be tied back to the recent rise in the popularity of Japanese culture and cuisine in the country, furthering the popularity of Japanese whiskey in the market.

Dewar’s Japanese smooth Scotch whisky was launched in November last year at an experiential event in Mumbai. The event blended the best of two diverse cultures, bringing to life various elements of Japanese and Scottish lifestyles and culture, including fashion, art, music, culinary and mixology talent.

We always keep our consumers at the heart of everything we do and will keep innovating new products and experiences to excite them in relevant and meaningful ways in the coming years as well.

 

The Dewar’s 8-Year-Old Japanese smooth Mizunara oak cask finish blended Scotch looks great! What are some key features that the consumers can look forward to?

The Dewar’s 8-YO Japanese smooth Scotch whisky offers a flawless combination of the finest elements of the whisky-making traditions and cultures of Scotland and Japan in a single bottle.

Consumers can enjoy the taste of Dewar’s signature double-aging process, which is then matured in traditional Japanese Mizunara oak casks, also known as ‘water oak,’ which is a native Japanese tree variety that has been used in the aging process for whiskey for over 200 years.

This gives the whisky a unique flavour, featuring subtle floral honey and heather notes, along with complex sandalwood aromas. On the palate it features notes of cinnamon spice because of the porous qualities of the Mizunara oak.

 

Is there a specific target consumer for Dewar’s 8-YO Japanese smooth Mizunara oak cask finish blended Scotch?

At Bacardi, we have transitioned to adopting a more mindset-based approach instead of a demographic-based one when identifying our legal drinking age target groups. We focus on the mind map of our consumers: what they care about, their likes and dislikes, and how they approach life overall.

Additionally, we have seen a huge uptick in the number of consumers who are open to experimenting, with 20% of consumers open to exploring drinks that weren't on their radar before the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.

As per the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report 2021, these discerning consumer choices have been some key factors behind our introduction of the Dewar’s Japanese Smooth Scotch Whisky, which engages all touch points that drive our new-age consumers.

 

When and where will we find the whisky and for how much?

The Dewar’s Japanese Smooth Scotch Whisky has already hit the shelves in Delhi, Gurugram and Mumbai. We have our 700-ml variants available in these cities, and plan to be available in the remaining cities around the country by next year. The price ranges between Rs. 1,900 and Rs. 2,800, depending on the state and point of sale.