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An Indian distiller changes with a country's more sophisticated palates.
Now, that looks set to change. Scotch exports to India rose 19 percent to a value of £7 million in 2008, according to Scotch Whiskey Association estimates, even though genuine Scotch made up less than 1 percent of India's spirits market and the association has approached the European Union about making an official complaint to the World Trade Organization over India's prohibitive taxes. Single malts, too, are on the rise. Forecasting near 50 percent growth rates in single malt consumption, Bacardi launched Dewar's White Lable, Dewar's 12, Dewar’s Signature, Aberfeldy 12 and Aberfeldy 21 in India last year, and there's plenty of competition.
“There's a lot of room for growth, because the alcohol industry itself is changing from lower quality spirits and country liquor to higher quality alcohols,” said Jagdale, who also revealed that Amrut plans to start selling its own single malts in India by the beginning of next year.
That said, the jury is still out on whether Amrut will be able to call its single malts and other whiskeys “Scotch.” Last year, under pressure from the Scotch Whiskey Association, China agreed to prohibit any whiskey makers whose products are made outside of Scotland from calling their beverages Scotch, and a similar campaign is underway in India — which might be more amenable to the Scots' argument if its own claims on Basmati rice had been successful.
But to Jagdale, a malt by any other name, if it's a top-quality one that is, would smell as sweet.
“We are in the position to make high-quality malt whiskey which is equal and comparable to any malt whiskey in the world today,” he said. “Having been in the business so long — I am the second generation, and my son is the third generation — there is a bit of satisfaction that we all feel. I feel very happy that we are able to be in that class.”
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