Here are some of the disruptors and quiet entrants in the single malt segment in India, over the past one year.
Words like craft and provenance are ruling the whisky industry now. While some of these new entrants were the epitome of craftiness, the rest silently advocate innovation and provenance. Interestingly, the origin point of whiskies have diversified over time, and to good effect — today, you have a wide range of choices to pick from. On this note, here’s looking at the best new single malt whisky to try right now. While some have diversified from old offerings, the others are new choices that would pleasantly surprise you.
Looking at the ever-expanding whisky-consuming population in India, the largest spirits-producing company Diageo recently rolled out a new range of locally made (from Ponda Distillery in Goa) craft spirits — Epitome Reserve and Godawan. The second edition, United’s Epitome Reserve a ‘peated’ single malt, was introduced in the market in November last year. This limited-edition offering from the Diageo India portfolio, with only 3,600 bottles — each of them numbered, is an endeavor to expand the artisanal craft spirit industry.
Besides the colorful packaging and cask finish, the bottles carry the signature of the Master Blender, Mahesh Patil. Made from the Himalayan six-row barley and matured for seven years in an ex-bourbon cask, the whisky is finished in a cabernet sauvignon wine cask. The sheer scarcity of the single malt makes it a collector’s piece. You’ll find it in Goa, Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Dubai.
Price in Goa: Rs 8,000
The second locally made craft spirit, Godawan is the first artisanal spirit from the Diageo portfolio. It pays tribute to Rajasthan’s heritage and seeks to raise awareness towards conservation of the environment and the native bird of the desert — Godawan, or the Great Indian Bustard. The whisky is distilled from Indian six-row barley, matured at a heat of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and finished in a unique cask architecture with exotic Indian botanicals.
The creation speaks of innovation in whisky making, and the attractive packaging raises curiosity in its cause. Godawan is currently available in Rajasthan, Delhi and Dubai.
Price in Rajasthan: Rs 5,275
Glenmorangie: A Tale of Cake
Glenmorangie launched the limited-edition ‘A Tale of Cake’ whisky here in October last year. A tribute to the work of pastry chef Dominique Ansel, this version of one of the most iconic single malt whiskies in the world celebrates the joy of a cake moment — shared between a grandson with his granny, and a father — incidentally Dr. Bill Lumsden, Director of Whisky Creation at Glenmorangie — with his daughter. The cherry on the cake, delightfully, is that the whisky is finished in Tokaji dessert wine casks — a Hungarian sweet wine. The whisky not only pairs well with cakes, but makes delicious cocktails, too. It is available in Mumbai and Gurgaon.
Price in Mumbai: Rs 12,500
Update: This was a limited edition launch and is no longer available in India.
A quiet entrant in the classic scotch single malt segment from the Islay region is Beam Suntory’s Bowmore 15-year-old. Especially appealing to the peaty whisky lovers looking for that extra fruitiness and sweetness, this edition of Bowmore is bound to catch one’s attention. This rich, dark amber-coloured whisky spends its final three years in Oloroso sherry casks. With the backbone of fruit and peat, this award-winning whisky targets new-age whisky drinkers. You’ll find it in Bengaluru, Mumbai and the NCR region.
Price in Mumbai: Rs 12,210
One of the newest and most admired single malts is Indri-Trini, launched by Piccadily Agro. The whisky gets the name from the village where it was born, and it has already received many international awards and recognitions. Indri also denotes the “indriyas” — the five senses. The word “trini” refers to the three wooden barrels in which the malt is matured. These are the first-fill bourbon, ex-french wine, and PX sherry casks. It is distilled from Indian six-row barley grown in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Price in Mumbai: Rs 5100
One of Asia’s most awarded whiskies comes from Taiwan, and is called Kavalan. This single malt was officially introduced in the Indian market recently. Kavalan is made in a state-of-the-art distillery in the outskirts of Taipei, and is surrounded by mountains and streams along with tropical climatic conditions. The ideal conditions contribute heartily to the complex flavours in the whisky. It is an absolute must-try for global whisky lovers.
Price in Mumbai: Rs 17,250
Macallan 18yo Double Cask
What makes the Macallan 18 special is the aging in two types of casks — Oloroso sherry and American oak. Notes of vanilla and butterscotch from the American oak barrel, and specially selected hand-crafted casks seasoned with dry Oloroso sherry, give it a harmonious finish. The colour is rich amber honey, and denotes dry fruits, toffee and ginger notes. It is available in Delhi and Mumbai.
Price on request.
A second salvo from the Glenmorangie stable, in March this year, the iconic brand launched a new expression, ‘X’. This new version caters to cocktail lovers, and is especially made for mixing. It aims to capture the growing, youthful cocktail culture in India. The single malt is produced in consultation with top global bartenders. New charred oak barrels offer the whisky a spicy, rich and full-bodied texture. Although it has no age statement, it is confirmed to be more than eight years old. The ease of mixing it with tonic and cola makes it a fun single malt to try. Available in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
Price in Mumbai: Rs 4971
Amrut Spectrum 004
The iconic Indian single malt, Amrut, introduced the third batch of the limited-edition expression, Amrut Spectrum 004, at the end of 2021. The base single malt whisky has been aged in ex-bourbon casks before it is finished in custom-made casks. In addition, four different staves (new American oak stave, French limousine oak, ex-Oloroso sherry cask and ex-PX sherry cask) give the whisky a multi-layered flavour profile. Only a few bottles of this whisky are available, that too only in Bengaluru.
Price: Rs 13,000
Radico Khaitan’s Rampur single malt range is only getting better with each new expression. Although this new one is only launched in the travel-retail segment, this is one whisky to pick up during that next trip to Delhi Duty Free. The name ‘Trigun’ refers to the “harmony of three”, as the whisky is matured in three different types of casks.
It is first matured in American bourbon barrels to attain the profile of an Indian Summer. The whisky is then transferred to champagne casks to add a layer of freshness, before being finished in Sauternes barrels from Bordeaux. The latter imparts sweetness, with a citrus-based hue and fruity aromas. The whisky has a high alcohol by volume content of 59%, and comes packaged in the signature style of the Rampur range — in a hand-crafted silk pouch inside a drum.
Available at Delhi Duty Free, the Rampur Trigun is soon to be rolled out in other global duty-free shops, including Dubai.
Price at duty-free: USD 200