The demand for premium U.S. whiskeys has increased ten-fold in the India market over the last decade, despite various entry, duty, and other barriers, according to Frank Coleman, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications, of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States. Speaking to an Indian hospitality publication at an American whiskey tasting and promotion event organised by the US Department of Agriculture in Delhi, Coleman said the world is witnessing a second renaissance in distilled spirits, and more and more people are "migrating to brown spirits".
"White spirits dominated markets world over for a long time. However, more and more people are migrating to whiskeys now. It's a flavor revolution that is happening. People are attracted to natural products with flavor and heritage," he said. U.S. whiskeys, Coleman said, are a perfect amalgamation of the three elements consumers want: natural ingredients and processes, flavor, and heritage.
Coleman said that India is a large potential market for U.S. whiskey but various barriers make it a difficult market for companies who want to bring products in. "It is not just entry barriers, but there are so many other hurdles as well," he said. "Indian consumers should not be burdened with so many taxes. They should have access to global products," Coleman suggested.
Overall, U.S. distilled spirits exports to India reached almost $4.3 million in 2013, up by 49% compared with 2012. U.S. whiskeys, primarily bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, were 97% of the total. "The market for U.S. distilled spirits, particularly whiskeys, has been growing rapidly in India, and with some further education about the category we feel that growth can continue and even accelerate," he said.
At the tasting event, Coleman introduced premium U.S. whiskeys like Jim Beam black label, Bulleit Rye, Makers Mark, Woodford Reserve, and Jack Daniels Silver Select to the participants. Shatbhi Basu, popular Sommelier and Ambassador of American Whiskeys in India, prepared and presented cocktails with American whiskeys.