World Whiskies: Indian Whisky

Scotland has long dominated the world’s whisky production, being renowned for producing some of the best malted beverages in the world. But with strong competitors growing from elsewhere in the world, such as Japan, incredible whiskies are continually emerging from global markets.

To celebrate the diverse selections of whisky created globally, we are taking a closer look at some of the types of whisky made around the world – starting with Indian Whisky.


Is Indian Whisky Actually Whisky?

When we talk about Indian Whisky, there are two distinctions, which are crucial to know about before making a purchase.

The definition of whisky is an “alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash”. The grain mash is integral to a drink being considered “whisky”.

In India, many drinks that they label “whisky” are actually made with fermented molasses instead. This means that they cannot be classed as a whisky in other countries, despite being known as such in India.

However, despite this, there are still a small number of distilleries that do make “proper” whisky using fermented grains. This means that Indian whisky – in the sense that is recognised worldwide – does exist!

Both Indian grain-based whisky and Indian mollasses-based whisky will be marketed as Indian Whisky, so you’ll need to pay attention to the label if you want to try an Indian single malt!


History of Indian Single Malt

Indian single malt was first produced in 2004, and wasn’t entirely intentional! Amrut, a producer of the traditional style of Indian whisky, created a single malt due to an excess of barley malt that was used as a distillate for the mollasses whisky.

Because there was too much barley malt, it ended up being aged for longer than it normally would be to be used in the production of Indian whisky. To avoid wasting it, the barley malt was turned into a single malt whisky.

The whisky was called Amrut – the brand’s name – and ended up being rated highly by the Whisky Bible. While single malt whisky was not popular for the home market in India, the whisky companies identified single malt production as an opportunity to develop their export market.


Why Has Indian Single Malt Done Well?

Indian single malt has performed well from both a business perspective and in the quality of the beverages that are now enjoyed by whisky lovers around the world.

One of the biggest factors behind this is the climate. Because India is so much hotter than Scotland, it takes less time to make a bottle of whisky!

In fact, it is estimated that around 12 percent of the distillate evaporates each year during the ageing process in India, which is six times more than for whiskies produced in Scotland!

This means that Indian single malts tend to taste a lot more aged than they actually are, for example, a three-year aged Indian Single Malt will taste similar to an 18-year-old Scotch. This allows for the costs of production and sale to be far lower for Indian whisky.


Where Can you Buy Indian Single Malt?

As mentioned, single malt is not so popular in India, compared with their own traditional Indian whisky. As such, the majority of single malt is exported, and available from spirit sellers around the world.

Here at Havana House, we have a collection of Indian whisky to try, with bottles from leading brands, like Amrut.


Amrut Fusion

If you want to give Indian single malts a go, then we would recommend Amrut Fusion as a great starting place.

Amrut Fusion is one of the most popular options from Amrut, combining unpeated Indian barley with peated Scottish barley to create this complex whisky. It is rich in taste, with fruity and spicy notes.

This whisky brings the best of Indian and Scotch whisky together into one ‘Fusion’ drink! A perfect introduction to Indian whisky, this option allows you to try these new Indian single malt flavours with a hint of familiarity from the Scotch.


Paul John Whisky

Here at Havana House, we also have a wide selection of Paul John whisky. Paul John is made from Indian malted barley, with some bottles in their range also making use of imported Scottish peat!

Have you tried Indian whisky before – either traditional or single malt? If so, drop us a comment below or on social media with your favourites!

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