Top Indian Whisky Royal Stag Vs Mcdowell Signature

Seagram’s Royal Stag and McDowell’s Signature are two of India’s most famous whisky brands. Both brands are immensely popular, and these names have a wide recognition among whisky lovers throughout the country.

Both Royal Stag and Signature whisky battle it out in the deluxe Indian whisky segment. After the value admix category, the deluxe whisky space has one of the most voluminous sales figures with brands such as Royal Stag, Signature, Sterling Reserve B7, Royal Challenge and many more competing against each other.

Today, The Whiskypedia compares Royal Stag and McDowell’s Signature for an overall comparison of how both brands perform with regards to sales figures, tasting notes and popularity in the deluxe whisky segment. Before we compare the brands with each other, let us first get an overview of both brands including their history, blend and individual market performance over the years.

Royal Stag Deluxe Whisky

Seagram’s Royal Stag Deluxe Whisk, often simply referred to as Royal Stag was first introduced in 1995. It was a radical new contender in the Indian whisky scene, aiming to battle it out with established names in industry such as McDowell’s No.1, Bagpiper, and Royal Challenge.

Royal Stag was the first Indian whisky that opted not to use any artificial flavouring in their product. This was a bold and disruptive move back in 1995, which quickly brought Royal Stag to the attention of whisky lovers. The Royal Stag blend, placed in the deluxe whisky segment was launched with an ambition to deliver an unmatched quality to its consumers.

Royal Stag

In order to facilitate this, the makers of Royal Stag eliminated molasses-based neutral spirit from their blend. Instead, Royal Stag blended imported Scotch malts with quality Indian grain whiskies. Without artificial flavours, Royal Stag Deluxe whisky created one of the few Indian whiskies that were available in 1995.

Another important contributing factor that led to an unprecedented popularity for the Royal Stag brand was the company’s decision to not use recycled bottles for packaging. Banking on these solid positive attributes and a phenomenal product, Royal Stag’s performance in India was phenomenal. It has largely been not only a notable success in India, but also worldwide. Royal Stag was ranked the fourth highest selling whisky brand in the world in 2019, showcasing the brand’s popularity with the Indian consumer.

McDowell’s Signature Rare Aged Whisky

McDowell’s Signature was launched in 1994 by McDowell’s Spirits Ltd, which later changed their name to United Spirits. It was launched in the super premium category but was subsequently lowered in order to make space for Antiquity Blue, which became the premium segment contender for United Spirits.

The Signature blend has been created by blending imported Scottish malts with locally produced grain spirits and neutral molasses based spirits. This practice is increasingly common for Indian whisky brands, especially with United Spirits’ Indian whiskies. The proportion or source of the whiskies used in the blend have not been revealed by the brand.

Signature Whisky

The octagonal, green-glass bottles and packaging of the product were designed to give Signature a classy, more premium look. This design was created by an international design firm known as Claessens International.

Historically, the Signature brand of whiskies have taken a backseat to the more illustrious and high-performing brands in the United Spirits stable. McDowell’s No.1, Royal Challenge, and Bagpiper tasted more success in terms of commercial performance. Yet the Signature brand won over a considerable amount of loyalists over the years. This ensured a steady, somewhat plateaued success for Signature. Since the brand’s introduction in 1994, it took over fifteen years for Signature to breach the 1 million cases mark which they crossed in 2009. Currently, Signature sits way behind on the list of India’s top selling whisky brands in the 14th spot.

Now that we have a fair amount of background information regarding our two competing brands, we will evaluate their commercial performance by comparing the two. We shall also be conducting a taste test to find who takes the crown of India’s top deluxe whisky brand – Royal Stag Deluxe whisky or McDowell’s Signature whisky.

Which Brand Becomes India’s Top Deluxe Whisky

Both Royal Stag Deluxe and McDowell’s Signature Rare Aged were launched in India around the same time. The 1990s were a period of booming sales for most Indian whisky brands, and a number of currently thriving whisky brands were first introduced around the same time. Royal Stag and McDowell’s Signature have both been around for many years, but their contrasting trajectory displays something interesting.

While Royal Stag became not only one of India’s most commercially successful whiskies, it also managed to make an indelible mark for itself on the global stage. McDowell’s Signature on the other hand, has not had a similar success story to share. Royal Stag breached the 1 million cases mark in sales by 2001, whereas Signature did it only by 2009.

Currently, Royal Stag is the fourth highest selling Indian whisky with more than 21 million cases in sales generated annually. Royal Stag bettered their numbers from the previous year by 15.5%. This indicates just how popular Royal Stag continues to be with India’s whisky lovers. Royal Stag is priced economically, which presents whisky lovers with high quality at a low price.

McDowell’s Signature was ranked the 14th highest selling Indian whisky brand last year, and sold nearly 2.3 million cases of their product. They improved their numbers from last year by 12.3%, which is an extremely healthy spike. Signature too is an attractively priced whisky for the Indian market, yet it somehow fails to register a similar sales boom.

It is true that commercial prosperity may not always accurately indicate the quality of a product, but sales figures do tend to translate accurately in terms of how well a brand is resonating with their consumers. The gap between Royal Stag and Signature is too large, and commercially, the latter poses no challenge to its rival. With regards to sheer numbers, Royal Stag takes the prize over McDowell’s Signature.

Let us conduct a taste test on both, Seagram’s Royal Stag Deluxe whisky and McDowell’s Signature Rare Aged whisky to find the winner of this competition. First, we try Royal Stag and then we shall go with Signature.

Royal Stag has a very exciting nose with aromas of tropical fruit intermingled with peat, and some freshly cut leafy grass. The palate is well-rounded, and very mellow. The flavours are pleasant, and there is a hint of peat, with a smooth, long finish. Overall, Royal Stag is one of the most surprisingly good products available at such a fair price.

Let us now try McDowell’s Signature which has a soft, peaty nose with some hints of molasses based spirit. On the palate, this whisk has well-rounded feel, and the peaty smoke makes its presence felt. Not incredibly flavourful, but the whisky is not off-putting either. The finish is peaty, medium and slightly acetone but with a splash of water, it worked slightly better than before.

So the big moment arrives where we pick our choice for the top deluxe whisky in India, and The Whiskypedia has made the decision. Seagram’s Royal Stag is our pick for an excellent overall performance, both commercially and critically. With astonishing sales figures, and great quality, it is a brand with a close resonance with their consumers which has rewarded them with bountiful returns.