June - 2004 issue > In Focus
Indian cheer to Scotch tipple
By si Team
Monday, May 31, 2004
Och aye, there’s some good whisky coming. Not too long ago in the bars of Scotland, there was some debate over a whisky that had just been blind-tasted. Some maintained that it was a 10-year-old matured whisky from Speyside. Others begged to differ: the fruity flavor was characteristic of the distilled waters of Glenfarclas, was their opinion. Both sides, however, agreed that it was good stuff.

It didn’t come from either place. The barley was grown several thousands of miles away, in Punjab and Rajasthan. And the whisky is matured in American oak barrels at a plant in Bangalore.

If there is one thing that is more difficult than selling sand to the Arabs, it is selling whisky to the Scots, and that’s exactly what Rakshit Jagdale, head of Amrut Distillaries, is upto. He is planning to lauch his whisky, also called Amrut–the nectar of the gods–in Glasgow this August.

Jagdale is a third generation businessman, having taken over his 50-odd year old family business after finishing his management studies in Britain. During this time, he became convinced that Indian whiskey would sell in the U.K. He went around with a sample from his plant, and even wrote a paper on it. Amrut Distillaries is part of the Jagdale Group, which has interests ranging from drugs to exported roses. Last year the group reported a turnover of $34.5 million. As for Amrut itself, it has varied interests in its sector: it produces as many as 2 million crates of whisky, rum, brandy, vodka and gin every year. The drink will be targetted at the many Indian restaurants that dot the landscape of Glasgow–the “curry capital” of Britain. The fact that there are more than 20,000 restaurants, with more than 70% of these allowed to sell alcohol.
Amrut has won clearance for the British market and will launch the drink in Glasgow with 2,400 cases or 30,000 bottles.

After the initial round, Amrut plans to export a further 12,000 cases to Britain, Europe and the U.S.Each bottle costs 20 pounds, about $37.
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