‘Indians have always loved their whiskey’

New Delhi: Indians have always loved their whiskey, and now they are more open to experimentation, says an industry expert.

“People in India have always loved their whiskey. And with increasing aspirations, disposable incomes and exposure to global brands, I believe that they are more open to experiment, upgrade and try out different whiskies from the world,” Jeff Arnett, Master distiller at Jack Daniel’s, told IANS.

“The premiumisation of the retail environment and the lifestyle of consumers in India is also helping consumers getting more evolved with whiskey. There has been a tremendous increase in the cocktail culture and people are trying out cocktails made with whiskies.

“There are a lot of craft cocktail bars that have come up in India and interestingly there are many women who have adopted whiskey as their preferred choice of drinks,” added Arnett, who was in India for a masterclass last month.

In 2008, Arnett took on the mantle as the seventh distiller in the 150 years of Jack Daniel’s existence.

Arnett says India has traditionally been a scotch market.

“But we have seen some good growth here in the past few years,” he added.

Pointing at another trend, he said: “I think from our point of view, American whiskies are seeing a renaissance globally, including India. People are increasingly getting fascinated by mixology.”

Arnett said “the well-travelled Indian millennial consumers are not very different than their counterparts across this digitally connected world”.

“As more and more Indians travel the world, they are seeking brands which are authentic and have a legacy of craftsmanship,” said the expert, who hails from Lynchburg, Tennessee.

What are his future plans for India?

“India is one of our key emerging markets globally and has shown consistent double-digit growth for us throughout the last few years. We plan to build on this by continuing to educate consumers here about the nuances of the American whiskey.”

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