A smooth sipper for the weekend. Or the perfect dram to mix up a cocktail. Here are our recommendations of best locally-made whiskies for 2022.
In the last two years, the number of home bars and make-your-own-cocktail mixers have seen a significant increase. People couldn’t get to their favourite pubs and resto-bars due to the lockdown. Or have access to duty-free alcohol. Besides, setting up a home bar or a counter and filling it up with all kinds of booze is cheaper in the long run. Have you seen the VAT on alcohol when you go out drinking? Thankfully, the best whiskeys can be enjoyed at home too!
Indians love their whisky. There’s no contesting that. This amber-hued drink is the best way to unwind after a long day at work. This relationship started when we were colonised by the British. They imported their Scotch and established the first brewery in Kasauli— the oldest distillery in Asia. According to an article in cntraveller.in: ‘Today, India remains the largest market for whisky, but mind you when we say whisky, we talk about all products that sell under the moniker in India.’ Industry buzz is that the pandemic has/is making customers spend more on alcohol/each bottle. They are also drinking more varieties of alcohol— Gins, single malts, best Bourbon whiskies or Japanese and even rye ones!
Indian single malts are produced in a similar fashion to Scotch is or like any best whiskies are. The only difference lies in the amount of whisky lost during the maturation process every year— termed as angel’s share. In India, due to warmer weather, it’s much higher than in Scotland.
Alcohol always makes for a good gift. Whisky even more so, especially, for those who enjoy the good things in life—like the feeling of sipping on one of smoothest whiskies on a wintry night! You should know what to get though. Fret not, that’s where we step in. If you love Scotch or have a palette for the best Bourbon whiskey cocktails— it’s not hard to get an Indian whisky equivalent!
So, whether you’re a whisky newbie (read our beginner’s guide to whisky here) looking for his first Indian dram or a veteran wanting to stock up the home bar with locally made ones— Man’s Life gives you five Indian whisky brands for you to try.
‘Savour India by taking the tiniest of sips’… reads one of the brand’s posts on how to enjoy their single malt. The whisky label hails from the sunny shores of Goa and is from the house of John Distilleries. Their single malts are in the ranks of the best whiskies in the world— with fans in both India and abroad— with its intense creamy flavours and balance. Asia’s most-awarded single malts, Paul John Whisky has won more than 250 awards and continues to strive to enrich the experience of every sip. Paul John Bold with its supremely-balanced peat smoke, honey, pepper, and cocoa is a must-try for those who love the best peat whiskies.
Amrut Distilleries was the first to produce single malts in India. In 2010, Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky was voted the third finest whisky in the world— by Jim Murray — one of the most respected whisky critics. Suddenly, Indian whisky was put on the world map. Crafted in Bangalore, this single malt whisky is aptly named, as it’s made fusing Indian barley with peated barley from Scotland. It’s not for the faint-hearted, as it’s one of the strongest whiskies out there with a compelling 50% ABV (alcohol by volume). The rich and warm malt liquid offers a smoky finish with fruity and spicy notes. In 2019, Amrut Fusion won the silver medal at the World Whiskies Awards.
Rampur Distillery has 75 years of expertise in this space— their origins date back to 1943 to the erstwhile princely state of Rampur. Hand-crafted and aged in the foothills of the Himalayas— the region provides polar opposite climate conditions throughout the year with the flavour of the famous Indian summer giving Rampur an added dimension and depth. A non-chill filtered single malt, Rampur Double Cask Whisky stands out for its full-bodied aroma of tropical fruits, smooth malty tones— and is the newest addition to the brand’s award-winning collection. This beautiful expression is crafted by maturation in handpicked American Bourbon barrels and European Oak Sherry casks. As Indian whisky matures significantly more quickly than Scotch and Irish ones— the single malts from the brand are the smoothest whiskies offering a mellow with a long-lasting finish.
Imagined in 2013 and created in 2019, this is a 100 per cent homegrown whisky. Meaning, only Indian ingredients go into their whiskies with no traces of Scotch or other foreign malts! Brewed in Fullarton Distilleries, a family-run distillery in Candepar, Goa, Woodburns— is a rich Indian malt whisky aged in handcrafted barrels made by the finest coopers in the country. A full-bodied dram, it’s smooth on the palate and the charring of the barrels gives it a bold, smoky, peat finish. Branded as a contemporary Indian whisky, Woodburns is already recognised globally. In 2019, it bagged a silver medal in the World Blended Whisky category at the International Spirits Challenge held in London.
8PM is the flagship brand of Radico Khaitan Ltd, the largest Indian spirits maker. Launched in 1998, the brand reflects the true essence of quality drinking, blended with rich taste of finest quality grains. It was also the first brand in the alcohol/beverage industry to make it to the Limca Book of Records 2001 for selling one million cases in the very first year of its launch! With a fruity, sweet and a hint of peaty note, get a whiff of perfection in every sip of 8PM Premium Black— touted as India’s new premium whisky— with 42.2% alcohol by volume.
India’s home to many global and local distilleries and yet it’s quite possible that you might have missed the above brands. Add them to your alcohol collection or order a dram when you head out with your pals next! Make sure to drink responsibly! Cheers!
Disclaimer: Drinking and driving is a punishable offence. Always drink responsibly, and only if you’re 21 and above, and in some states if you’re 25 and above!
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