SMAC distills unbiased insights into Indian single malts

SMAC distills unbiased insights into Indian single malts

The Single Malt Amateur Club (SMAC) recently unveiled its 4th annual survey report on Indian single malt whiskies in what we say is “a distillation of unbiased insights” from our 700-odd members and single malt whiskey enthusiasts.

Since 2020, we’ve strived to capture the voice of the Indian single malt whisky enthusiast. This year, with over 700 responses, our survey boasts a robust sample size, offering unique insights directly from the discerning palates of our diverse members.

This report aims to bridge the gap between the media narrative and consumer reality. We delve deep into the preferences, opinions, and experiences of Indian single malt connoisseurs, painting a clear picture of what truly resonates with them. Through detailed analysis of the 2023 survey results, you’ll discover:

  • Untapped opinions: get an unfiltered perspective on what consumers truly love (and don’t love) about Indian single malts;
  • Beyond the hype: move beyond media buzz and understand the genuine preferences driving purchasing decisions;
  • Consumer expectations: gain valuable insights into what drinkers expect from brands and how they can cater to their evolving tastes.

This survey’s scope encompasses all single malt whiskies produced as per provided information and is available for retail purchase in India, ensuring a comprehensive analysis of the Indian single malt landscape.

The demographics

It is crucial to note that our survey is predominantly driven by members’ experiences and availability, influencing the presented percentages and numbers. Each response is meticulously linked back to the member through their unique membership identity, ensuring transparency and traceability.

Members were presented with the opportunity to rate a whisky only if they had tasted it, impacting the volume metrics and influencing the rankings. The survey’s evolution reflects the rapid growth in the segment and underscores the dynamic nature of the Indian single malt landscape.

Whether you’re a seasoned distiller, a brand marketer, or simply a curious enthusiast, this report offers invaluable information to navigate the dynamic world of Indian single malts.

The survey opened on 29 December 2023 and closed on 15 February 2024, garnering more than 700 responses. While a majority of respondents were from India (90%), we have responses from over 15 countries.

Although we received responses from 22 states, the majority came from Karnataka and Maharashtra – and the ratio of responses is still heavily skewed to men. But what we found was that the 35-45-year-old segment of members had now started to emerge as the leading voice of the survey.

Market accessibility

Amrut Fusion asserts its dominance in the standard single malt category, securing the foremost position in accessibility rankings. With an almost cult-like following worldwide, the widespread tasting of Amrut Fusion comes as no surprise, underscoring its extensive accessibility and popularity among whiskey enthusiasts.

Indri Trini has adeptly maintained well-fed supply chains and successfully penetrated numerous markets in India. The accessibility coverage of 69% reflects its strategic market entry, establishing itself as a prominent choice among consumers due to its widespread availability.

Paul John Bold’s unwavering commitment to standardisation ensures its consistent availability and subsequent recognition. This commitment extends beyond domestic borders, making it accessible on an international scale as well.

Bold, Paul John Brilliance, Paul John and Nirvana are all from the Paul John distillery and have response values ranging between 65% to 63%.

Paul John Bold pleasantly surprises, despite its peated character, which may not align with conventional preferences. The whiskey impressively captivates the taste buds of respondents, highlighting its distinctive appeal.

Indri Trini makes a significant impact within a short span, claiming the second position in the single malt category.  Despite being launched just 2 years ago, Indri Trini impressively captures the attention of the respondents, indicating a rapid and successful market entry.

The demand

Indri, positioned as the second highest in the standard whiskey category rankings, not only holds a significant standing but also boasts considerable demand among consumers. The brand’s popularity in this category underscores its appeal and recognition within the market.

In the case of the Rampur variants, both securing the second and third positions, their ranking is indicative of their limited availability in the Indian market. This scarcity contributes to their exclusivity and, consequently, their placement in the rankings. The desirability of these variants appears to be fueled by their somewhat elusive nature.

The Godawan variants, on the other hand, have strategically captured attention through slick marketing campaigns and events. This calculated approach has not only created curiosity but also earned them positions in the 4th and 6th spots. The brand’s ability to generate interest showcases the impact of effective promotional efforts in the competitive whisky landscape.

Despite being a pioneering force in its category, Amrut Peated finds itself in a unique position. While it has undoubtedly paved the way for others, its relatively lower tasting prevalence suggests that there is still untapped potential. The brand’s journey involves not only being recognised as a trailblazer but also in reaching and captivating a broader audience.

The responses to this aspect of accessibility have clearly outlined the existing demand, revealing that several brands, for various reasons, have faced challenges in accessing numerous markets.

The variants

The Indian single malt category stands out for its prevalence of premium and exclusive releases, surpassing the availability of standard releases. Notably, Paul John emerges as the frontrunner in this segment, boasting a diverse portfolio that includes 12 distinct variants within a category comprising 27.

This dominance underscores Paul John’s commitment to offering a wide range of unique and high-quality single malts, contributing significantly to the premiumization trend in the Indian whiskey landscape.

Amrut also asserts its influence with a substantial presence, offering a commendable range of eight variants. Amrut positions itself closely behind Paul John, leaving a mere seven variants for all other competitors combined!

This further emphasizes the notable concentration of premium and exclusive releases within the Indian single malt market, with Paul John and Amrut leading the way in curating distinctive expressions that contribute to the category’s overall richness and exclusivity. Christmas Editions from Paul John have varying levels of participation, with the 2022 Xmas Edition leading the pack.

Some variants like Epitome Peated, Amrut Two Continents, Amrut Spectrum, and Godawan 100 feature lower in the accessibility index, suggesting they may be less known or less accessible to the sampled audience.

Paul John has asserted its supremacy in the premium single malt category by claiming the top three positions with notably unpretentious variants. The Select Cask Peated and Select Cask Classic have seized the leading spots, showcasing the brand’s ability to captivate discerning palates with distinctive yet approachable expressions.

Notably, the Oloroso Select Cask secures 3rd position, affirming the brand’s versatility in producing exceptional wine cask whiskies.

The Indri Diwali edition of 2023 from Picadilly has impressively clinched the 5th place. This underlines the brand’s ability to create limited editions that resonate with enthusiasts, garnering recognition and praise within the competitive premium single malt landscape.

In the realm of Amrut, the Intermediate Sherry emerges as the top-rated premium single malt, once again emphasising the influential role of availability as a key driver of votes. This observation suggests that the audience’s preferences may be significantly influenced by the accessibility of certain expressions, leading to the recognition and appreciation of Amrut’s Intermediate Sherry as a standout choice in the premium single malt category.

Going premium

The accolades received and the media buzz surrounding the Indri Diwali edition 2023 from Piccadilly solidify its position as the most sought-after premium single malt, commanding the highest demand in the country.

Following closely, Rampur Asava, distinguished by its luxurious aesthetics, claims the 2nd spot on the wish list. Amrut’s Master Distiller Reserve and Two Continents are among the top five premium whiskies that many enthusiasts aspire to taste.

Notably, Godawan 01 secures a position in the top 10, reaffirming the success of Diageo’s campaign. The survey data further supports these preferences, with Indri Diwali 2023 leading the list, followed by Rampur Asava and Amrut Two Continents, aligning with the high demand observed in the market.

This data not only reflects the popularity of these whiskies but also substantiates the correlation between awards, media presence, and consumer preferences in the realm of premium single malts.

SMAC exclusives

As the sole club in the country dedicated to crafting unique expressions exclusively for its members, we take immense pride in our accomplishments and the value we have contributed. Nevertheless, this segment underscores that substantial efforts lie ahead.

A considerable number of our members have faced challenges accessing our exclusive expressions, and geographical limitations stand out as a primary obstacle. Recognising this, we are actively working towards expanding our reach to serve more markets, ensuring that our exceptional offerings become more accessible to a broader audience.

SMAC was founded in 2011 as a platform for amateurs, professionals and connoisseurs to share experiences and information on single malt whiskey. SMAC believes whiskey is for everyone and the ‘amateur’ tag was added to empower members to shed their inhibitions and speak.

With over 7,000 registered members across the globe, this rapidly growing club curates whisky tours, tasting sessions and master classes. and provides an apt platform for brands to engage with consumers.

It has the distinction of having its own club exclusive whiskies from some of the most reputed distilleries. For more information, write to