Mike Southgate: ‘Mackay’ing new inroads into India

Mike Southgate: ‘Mackay’ing new inroads into India Mike Southgate, Director of Developing Markets at Whyte & Mackay (L), and Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of VBev, ahead of one of their meetings with industry professionals in India recently.

Whyte and Mackay (W&M), a global leader in premium spirits, known for its exceptional craftsmanship and rich heritage, is set to redefine the whisky-consumption experience in India. Mike Southgate, Director of Developing Markets, recently visited India to strengthen the brands' commitment and foster relationships in the country’s burgeoning market.

W&M, the 5th-largest single malt whisky producer globally, currently offers The Dalmore 15-YO, The Dalmore 12-YO, Jura 12-YO and Jura 10-YO in India. The brand recently announced expansion of its portfolio by bringing The Dalmore Portwood Reserve and Jura 18-YO to the country in the coming months.

Both are exciting additions to continue to provide high-quality, premium single malt whiskies aligned with the growing consumer demand. This is being done in collaboration with VBev, a company established for the import, marketing, sales and distribution of international wine, beer and spirit brands across the sub-continent.

Mr Mike Southgate, Director of Developing Markets for W&M, who spent a few weeks in India recently, spoke with key stakeholders, industry experts and whisky enthusiasts, to understand the unique preferences and aspirations of the Indian audience.

“Our portfolio is undeniably whisky-centric, with real depth rather than a breadth across multiple categories. This gives us the unique opportunity to focus on the category and have some wonderful blends, including the likes of Whyte & Mackay, John Barr and Claymore,” he said. “But the beating heart of the business is our malts, including The Dalmore & Jura.”

Speaking about The Dalmore, Mike stated that the whisky was celebrated globally for its royal heritage, expertly composed spirit, exceptional cask curation, and dedication to crafting a masterpiece. He was confident that it would appeal to the discerning Indian audience.

Jura, on the other hand, is more than just a whisky. “It is home to a tiny island community of 212 people and their continued prosperity is at the heart of why W&M does what they do every day.”

Mike said, “The Dalmore, a remarkable Highland whisky founded in 1839, has emerged as the fastest-growing single malt globally, with an impressive +38% growth among the top eight brands.” As the global No.7 single malt, The Dalmore has achieved new milestones, including a US$ 102-million growth in 2022, and a doubling in value in less than 5 years.

Similarly, Jura, a captivating Islands whisky, has experienced unprecedented growth, becoming the 3rd-fastest-growing top-20 brand by value at +28% since the pre-pandemic era.

Local market

Commenting on the global markets, Mike pointed out that single malt whisky has now gone over US$ 10 billion in retail sales, with the last 5 years seeing a CAGR of 11.5%.

“The global CAGR for the coming 5 years sees single malt whisky continue to be forecast for 5.3% growth, ahead of whisky in general at 3.7% and ahead of all other spirit categories,” he pointed out.

Speaking about the Indian market and the future of the brand in the country, he said, “India’s single malt whisky market presents an exhilarating opportunity for Whyte & Mackay. We anticipate its growth from US$ 0.21 billion in 2022 to US$ 0.48 billion in 2027.”

Over the next 5 years, India is forecast to deliver the 3rd-highest level of absolute retail sales value in single malt whisky growth over the coming 5 years, just marginally behind China and the US, and more than double the next market, South Korea.

This is bolstered by India's youthful population, perfectly aligning with the trend of younger consumers gravitating towards single malt. “At Whyte & Mackay, we are committed to capitalising on this exciting market, catering to the evolving preferences of Indian consumers with our premium offerings,” he added.

Noting that the IWSR forecast of Indian whisky sees a growth of over 4.2%, Mike said that W&M would be continuing its close partnership with VBev, which has an unmatched reach in the Indian market and is taking a greater focus on the Indian domestic market, ensuring enhanced product availability in a category characterised by scarcity in liquids.

Mr Sumedh Mandla, CEO of VBev, stated, “During our long-standing partnership with Whyte & Mackay, we have witnessed the growing footprint in the Indian market and have achieved consistent strong double-digit growth over the past 3 years.”

Through a diligent focus on visibility and trials, VBev has employed various targeted strategies to resonate with different demographics. ‘Our marketing approach for Jura caters to Millennials, introducing innovative cocktails like the ‘Jura Sunset’, while The Dalmore is positioned for a more mature audience, offering a refined drinking experience,” he said.

India’s remarkable 12% increase in the demand for premium spirits in FY-2023, coupled with the resurgence of volume consumption in the spirits market, this collaboration is perfectly timed for both business partners.

“Our shared goal is to provide audiences with the finest selection of premium whiskies, and their association with Whyte & Mackay ensures delivery of a world-class drinking experience to Indian connoisseurs, both old and young,” Sumedh added.

In addition to their commitment to excellence, Mike said that W&M is dedicated to sustainability initiatives and focuses on four key pillars to support its agenda: energy, water, packaging and agriculture, and bio-diversity.

With a focus on responsible sourcing and production practices, Mike states, the brands strive to minimise their environmental impact by being carbon-neutral by 2030 and net-zero by 2040, while maintaining the highest standards of quality.