Icons of Whisky India 2017
It’s that time of year again when we begin our search for the most iconic figures and companies in the world of whisky. The annual Icons of Whisky awards highlight the growing popularity of this wonderful spirit by showcasing the vast array of producers and individuals offering innovative and exciting products on a global scale.
This year, we are excited to be able to include India as a fourth region and hope to single out Japan and Ireland for the 2018 awards.
Once again, we asked the industry to nominate their icons online before our Whisky Magazine editorial panel whittled each category down to a shortlist of five.
Following voting and a final review by the panel, we now present to you the Indian winners and we hope you will join us in celebrating their success. Keep an eye out in the next issue for the results of Icons of Whisky Scotland.
Brand Innovator of the year
United Spirits prides itself on the production and distribution of innovative and award-winning products that have made their mark on the world stage. With 18 brands in its portfolio, United Spirits produces and sells around 120 million cases a year and exports products to 37 countries globally. A subsidiary of Diageo, United Spirits has established a range of core brands with McDowell’s No 1, Antiquity and Bagpiper among some of the most iconic. Recognising the importance of brand identity, the company recently refreshed the image of Royal Challenge for a more premium look and feel.
William Grant & Sons India
Craft Producer of the year
Mohan Meakin - Solan No 1
Producer Mohan Meakin has a long history of brewing and distilling in India that can be traced back to the 1820s and the establishment of a distillery at Kasauli by Edward Dyer. With the eventual involvement of entrepreneurs H G Meakin and N N Mohan, the company began trading under the name Mohan Meakin Limited. With various breweries and distilleries set up by Dyer, it was the site at Solan which proved highly successful thanks to conditions similar to that experienced in Scotland. At one time India’s best-selling whisky, Solan No 1 remains the only malt whisky made in the Himalayas today and the company’s most well-known brand.
Distiller of the year
Pernod Ricard India
Pernod Ricard India is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pernod Ricard Group operating through 32 bottling plants and two grain distilleries at Nasik (Maharashtra) and Behror (Rajasthan). The two grain distilleries adopt sophisticated technology to ensure high quality and minimal pollution. The company has an impressive portfolio of premium spirits including Seagram’s Blenders Pride, Imperial Blue and Royal Stag. A blend of Indian grain spirits and imported Scotch malts, Blenders Pride is the flagship brand commanding a market share of almost 63 per cent.
Beam Suntory India
Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year
Michael D’Souza - Paul John Distillery
With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Michael D’Souza regards his occupation as a marrying of science and art. Known as the man behind the great Indian single malt, he was drawn into the world of distilling in 1993, before being appointed master distiller in 2009. With a reputation for taking a hands-on approach, lending his expertise to each step of the process, Michael finds the inspiration for his single malts in the surroundings of Goa, where the distillery is based. Michael uses the region’s tropical climate to his advantage as this lends to the distinctive character and rich colour of his award-winning whiskies.
Multiple Outlets Retailer of the year
Madhuloka Liquor Boutique - Bengaluru
Madhuloka’s range of stores across Bengaluru work under a simple premise set out by founder K S Lokesh - to provide an enticing environment that allows the customer to shop in comfort and with confidence. Catering for India’s growing desire for quality whisky and delivering this to a new generation, its flagship store opened in 1999, and since then 17 stores have opened across the region. A home delivery service for spirits has proved a popular recent addition allowing customers to easily access the extensive range of products from India and beyond.
Living Liquidz, Mumbai
Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year
James Pennefather - William Grant & Sons
Over his commercial career, James has been based in three markets - UK, Kenya and India - and has made personal whisky ambassadorship a central part of his role in each. Based in India as managing director since 2014, James is responsible for the full William Grant & Sons portfolio and recently introduced Monkey Shoulder to the market. He runs a series of exclusive whisky dinners which he illustrates with the entertaining comments of Charles Gordon, William Grant’s son-in-law, who visited India in 1909 to set up distribution networks and whose daily letters back to the distillery are still in the company’s archives.
Single Outlet Retailer of the year
La Cave - New Delhi
Since opening in late September 2015, La Cave in New Delhi has proved somewhat an oddity, a wine and spirits store situated in the heart of a bustling shopping mall. However this outlet has quickly established a reputation for being the go-to destination for discerning buyers looking for whiskies from around the globe. Stocking a range of affordable and premium bottles and with its boutique feel and smart interior, including a chandelier made from whisky decanters, La Cave is a home from home for whisky and wine lovers in New Delhi.
Juben Wines, Mumbai
Supermarket of the year
Le Marche - New Delhi
Founded in 2005, Le Marche currently has six stores situated in New Delhi and Gurgaon and classes itself as a global food store. A family business, Le Marche has found a position as the supermarket of choice for well-travelled, urban, Indian customers, seeking to experiment with international cuisine in their own homes. With this in mind, it is no surprise that Le Marche has topped this Icons category, offering consumers a range of both Indian and imported beverages so they can enjoy their favourite whiskies.
Travel Retailer of the year
Delhi Duty Free - Indira Gandhi International Airport
Delhi Duty Free, was launched in July 2010 with the aim of delivering a unique customer experience and value for partners. With around 1,000 brands and over 40,000 products, Delhi Duty Free offers a wide range of exclusives and luxury gift ideas. Travellers can benefit from huge savings thanks to monthly offers on popular single malts and blends. From limited edition bottlings to much loved Indian brands and Bourbons, this really is a whisky lover’s paradise before having even left the departure lounge!
Visitor Attraction of the year
Amrut’s timeline runs alongside that of independent India’s own and as you step inside the distillery’s visitor centre, you’re surrounded by this history. Founded in 1948 by the late Shri Radhakrishna, the company started out as a small blending and bottling unit and has since grown to become a key player on the world stage. With distillery tours available two days a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, visitors are welcome to come along and immerse themselves in Amrut’s single malt journey. After being greeted by master distiller Surrinder Kumar, guests are encouraged to nose Amrut’s newmake spirit, and a selection of products from the distillery’s extensive portfolio.
World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year
Paul John - John Distilleries
While Paul P John assumes the role of chairman and managing director of John Distilleries, his entrepreneurial skills and passion for premium products have made him a well-known ambassador for luxury items in India and beyond. With a successful wine range and award-winning hospitality business to his name, it is no surprise that Paul P John decided to try his hand at producing whisky. Given his love for fine single malts, Paul subsequently established John Distilleries in 1992. His flagship brand, Original Choice, and the stunning range of Paul John single malts, have achieved international success as one of India’s finest exports.