Imperial Blue Vs 8PM Picking The Better Value Indian Whisky
Imperial Blue and 8 PM are two well-known Indian whisky brands that have been around for more than two decades. Launched in the late 90s, both Imperial Blue and 8PM were part of whisky brands that conditioned and evolved with the changing preferences of the Indian whisky lover.
Today, India is the world’s largest whisky consuming nation, and had it not been for whisky makers spoiling their consumers for choice, this astronomical feat would be impossible. Both brands occupy a special place in the country’s whisky industry, and today, we put Imperial Blue and 8PM to the test. Comparing two established blended Indian whisky brands, The Whiskypedia attempts to find the better value Indian whisky so that you don’t have to. So let’s begin.
Imperial Blue Superior Grain Whisky
Imperial Blue Superior Grain whisky was launched in India in 1997. It is currently one of the core products in the Seagram’s India portfolio, and is one of India’s most widely recognized alcoholic beverage brands. Imperial Blue was placed in the value admix segment, and competed with some established brands when it was first launched.
The Imperial Blue blend is a combination of imported Scotch malts and superior quality Indian grain whiskies. The product is renowned for its smoothness, without losing the ability to ‘pack a punch’. This is a quality deeply appreciated by Indian whisky lovers, which translates to the astonishing levels of success attained by Imperial Blue over the years.
Within a decade of its launch in India, Imperial Blue became a top Indian whisky with over 3 million cases of product sales in 2007. The numbers grew considerably over the years, with Imperial Blue racking up more than 8.8 million cases in sales by 2012. This represents a growth of more than 250% in just five years in a category that is well-known for cutthroat competition.
Key rivals of Imperial Blue Superior Grain whisky are 8PM whisky, Officer’s Choice, McDowell’s No.1 and a few notable regional brands. The value admix segment is populated by some incredibly successful whiskies, and sales from this segment make up for a large chunk of India’s total whisky consumption.
Together, Imperial Blue, Officer’s Choice and McDowell’s No.1 made up for more than 85 million cases of whisky sales in India in 2018. This is a massive number, and represents Imperial Blue’s domination over many of its rivals in the industry. Moving on towards an overview of the 8PM whisky brand, let us find out more.
8PM whisky is a blended Indian whisky that was launched in India in 1999. It is a Radico Khaitan product, earlier known as Rampur Distillery & Chemical Company. 8PM was the flagship product for Radico Khaitan, and continues to be the company’s most important whisky brand with a pan-India appeal.
Radico Khaitan say that 8PM whisky is “blended with rich quality grains”, although no additional information has been made available. The presence of Indian grain whiskies is certain, but nothing beyond it can be said with certainty.
8PM whisky is the holder of a record in the ‘Limca Book of World Records’ for being the first Indian whisky brand to sell over a million cases of their product within the first year of its launch. The brand made a strong entrance into the Indian whisky industry, but their success began to plateau over the years.
A strong resurgence over the past decade has ensured 8PM some admirable success, earning it a place on IWSR’s 100 fastest growing spirit brands worldwide. As of 2018, 8PM whisky was selling close to 8.2 million cases of their product annually. This is a massive number, but one dwarfed by the otherworldly success of its rivals, Officer’s Choice, McDowell’s No.1, Imperial Blue and Original Choice.
Picking The Better Value Indian Whisky
Addressing the most obvious and clear aspect of the rivalry and comparison between Imperial Blue Superior Grain whisky and 8PM whisky, we must acknowledge that the former has a significant upper hand over its counterpart. Imperial Blue is not only one of India’s bestselling whiskies, it was also ranked the third highest selling whisky brand worldwide.
Imperial Blue not only finished above some of its rivals, it also beat out the likes of Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniel’s and Crown Royal. These international brands are sold in many more countries and markets worldwide. 8PM finished eleventh on the same list, and the huge gap commercial gap between both brands is evident.
As per figures provided by The Spirits Business, Imperial Blue sold over 22.7 million cases last year alone. 8PM on the other hand also bettered their numbers slightly, racking up 8.2 million cases in sales. The numbers favour Imperial Blue, and are testament to the brand’s wider appeal and a clear indication of the Indian whisky drinkers’ preference towards it.
Now let us pit the two titans of the value admix segment against each other for a taste test. The Whiskypedia tries out both, Imperial Blue and 8PM whisky before we present our winner.
First, we try Imperial Blue Superior Grain whisky. It has a pleasant nose with aromas of fruit mixed with some peat, freshly cut grass and some oak. The whisky is very smooth, and well-rounded. The overall experience is quite mellow, and the malty cereal flavours are blended perfectly. The finish is medium, not too long but the aftertaste is quite nice. Overall, the popularity of Imperial Blue makes sense because of how good the whisky tastes at an affordable price.
We tried 8PM whisky next, and our immediate observation was the slightly heavier acetone character on the nose. After a couple of swirls, we picked up some smoke, caramelized wood and leather aromas. On the palate, the whisky is smooth but not as much as we would have liked. The whisky is not too flavourful, and the finish is short, with some oak and peat.
Frankly, this debate felt a little obvious on how this comparison would turn out. It was an interesting match-up between two giants of the Indian whisky. The Whiskypedia feels honoured to declare Imperial Blue as the better value Indian whisky for its superior taste and its unprecedented success.