United Spirits enters the craft whiskey market

NEW DELHI: Liquor major United Spirits Ltd., (USL), owned by British Diageo Plc, has launched United’s Epitome Reserve – a premium craft whiskey that paves the way for the company’s entry into the craft spirits market which has gained popularity among young Indians, urban rockers.

The price of Epitome Reserve is comparable to that of premium Scotch whiskeys imported from USL, the company said. These bottles are available on request or at selected premium points of sale. Only 2,000 of these bottles are available in the first batch.

Epitome Reserve is an artisanal and artisanal whiskey made from 100% rice. It is also the most premium Indian whiskey sold by USL in the country.

The launch is expected to capitalize on the growing demand for premium spirits and locally made spirits in India, said Deepika Warrier, Director of Marketing, Diageo India.

“Over the past year and a half, we have found that consumers, for lack of being able to travel, socialize or go out and have the best food and drink experiences, have experimented with premium spirits at home with do -it. yourself or DIY experiments. It’s part of the small, intimate celebrations now and they’re just savoring and experimenting with new kinds of liquids, ”Warrier said.

This is especially true for consumers at the top of the consumer pyramid, she said. At the same time, there is also a growing appetite for more spirits produced in the country, she added.

“This consumer is of course looking for world class experiences, which is why you see global brands and our premium offerings from all over the world growing very rapidly, especially in the last year or so in India. There is also this growing desire for more local produce, local flavors and ingredients, and a sense of pride in Indian craftsmanship, ”said Warrier.

Major Indian cities have seen an explosion of craft alcoholic beverages, typically small batch spirits infused with a range of ingredients as opposed to those that are mass produced. Launches were particularly high in categories such as beer and gin.

For example, some of the more recent gin launches include Greater Than, Hapusa, and Terai. Meanwhile, craft beers include Kati Patang, White Owl, among others.

Millennials in particular prefer these alcoholic beverages.

Warrier said maker of Scotch Whiskey Johnnie Walker and Black & White Scotch Whiskey may consider creating a larger line of craft spirits for the Indian market.

Entering the craft spirits market is a “tipping point” as the company prepares to launch more premium spirits, Warrier said.

“Of course, we will continue to do what we do in the IMFL space (foreign liquors made in India) and our global brands. But that really signals for us an entry into the artisanal space, which is much more entrepreneurial, much more artisanal and includes small batches, experimenting with ingredients in different subcategories of spirits. You’re going to see more of this coming from us, ”she said.

The move also comes months after the company announced a “strategic review” of some of its alcohol brands in India, and more specifically its popular or mainstream brands, as it intends to continue growing more. profitable by improving its portfolio in India.

While Warrier said the launch was unrelated to a strategic review, the shift to more premium spirits has been underway for years.

“It’s part of our self-proclaimed premiumization journey and the need for innovation that we’ve focused on over the past two years by revamping our core brands, launching packaging innovations… this (craft launch) is actually accelerating our innovation journey, ”she said.

The entry into the craft space began with whiskey since India is a large whiskey market. The company could explore categories such as gin as it expands its artisanal offering.

“It’s clear that consumers are looking for different categories for different occasions. We will definitely be looking at all of these pieces. But clearly we started with whiskey because India is a whiskey market, ”she said.

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