Comparing the Bestselling Indian Whisky Brands for Nose and Taste

India consumes a whopping 48% of the world’s total whisky consumption, and most of that constitutes Indian whisky brands. Those facts alone should tell you how seriously we take our drinks in India. According to a listicle published by ‘The Spirit Business’ in August 2020; four Indian whisky brands dominated the Top 10 spots based on number of cases sold.

In today’s post, we tell you a bit more about these bestselling Indian whisky brands and how they ranked among in the list of top 10 bestselling spirits in the world.

Royal Stag Whisky

Owned by Pernod Ricard, the Royal Stag is instantly recognized by whisky lovers in India as a budget friendly whisky with premium taste. The brand was launched in 1995 by Seagram’s as a signature spirit that did not use any artificial flavors. Royal Stag Whisky is available in several countries and comes in several pack sizes, which also makes it one of the most popular brands by Pernod Ricard. Royal Stag bagged the 7th place among top 10 bestselling whiskies, selling 22 million cases.

Nose and Taste

Royal Stag Whisky has a leafy aroma with hints of fruitiness and smoke. Hence, its palate offers well rounded traces of fruity smokiness, complete with a medium bodied, smooth finish.

Imperial Blue Whisky

Another heavy hitter from the house of Pernod Ricard, the Imperial Blue Whisky is well known for its exquisite smoothness . The brand sold over 26 million cases and has witnessed a continuous year-on-year growth since the last five years. Imperial Blue Whisky was launched in 1997 as a premium blend of Indian grain spirits and imported Scotch malts. Since then, it has captivated Indian drink lovers, coming in 5th among the global bestsellers.

Nose and Taste

Imperial Blue Whisky curiously has a very faint nose with hints of thin lemon juice and alcohol. The young alcohol tastes of caramel, lemon juice and sweetener, offering a short finish with slight alcohol burn on the lips and back of the throat.

Officer’s Choice Whisky

Officer’s Choice makes the list due to its budget price tag and has made headlines for quite some time as one of the highest selling liquors in the world. Although its year-on-year sales witnessed a dip, the brand still managed to ship almost 30 million cases, coming in third spot in the list.  Officer’s Choice Whisky is produced by Allied Blenders & Distillers.

Nose and Taste

The whisky has a nose of caramel ice-cream and vanilla with a touch of alcohol. Its thin palate gives of flavors of burnt caramel and floral water and can cause a distinct acid reflux with subsequent sips. The finish of the whisky is short, dry and bitter.

McDowell’s No. 1 Whisky

In terms of sales volume there wasn’t much difference between the Officer’s Choice and McDowell’s No. 1 Whisky, being another one of the cheaper Indian whisky brands. Selling a bit over 30 million cases,  McDowell’s No. 1 whisky managed to bag the number two spot by a very thin margin. The brand is bottled and sold by United Spirits, the Indian arm of Diageo.

Nose and Taste

The nose is not very distinct from a typical Scotch blend with mild fruity notes (particularly banana), vanilla and cinnamon. The whisky tastes sweet, with some balance offered by hints of pepper and herbs and there are notes of soap in the back. It has very short finish that feels like burnt caramel and bitter herbs.

Our Verdict

As you can see from the list, there is very high demand for whiskies under Rs 1000 in India. While brands in the former half like Royal Stag and Imperial Blue offer better nose, palate and finish, they are also priced at the higher end of the spectrum. Brands in the latter half of the article gain in numbers but fall in quality. Their lower price tags affect quality, both displaying almost identical tasting notes of burnt caramel flavoring and bitter finish.

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