America's Jim Beam adds a dash of bourbon to India

America's Jim Beam adds a dash of bourbon to India
 American bourbon whiskey legend Jim Beam has got wind of the growing taste in India for that different whiskey experience, and aims to build a niche for bourbon whiskey in the country.

Jim Beam is produced in Clermont, Kentucky. Imported to India in oak barrels directly from its home in the US, the new whiskey has slowly begun to have seekers here. The company has also opened a bottling facility at Behror, Rajasthan, from where the imported whiskey is packaged for local consumption. The local bottling is meant to help the company save the additional duties levied by the government on finished (imported) goods, and the cost savings would benefit customers.

“The popularity for American whiskey is growing. We plan to spread out to the top 6-8 metros by the end of this year, besides subsequent penetration into mini-metros and tier-II towns. We have selected bars, clubs, wine shops and duty-free stores as part of our retail channelisation drive,” Beam Suntory India Controller (Marketing) Ankur Bhatia told Deccan Herald.

Jim Beam BII (bottled-in-India) is now available in Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Tripura, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Puducherry, Kolkata, and Pune, and the company claims to have achieved 300-400 per cent volume growth in India.

Aged whiskey for young

India is the world’s largest whiskey market, and also holds the epithet of the third largest Scotch whiskey market. With 4 million-6 million cases of Scotch consumed annually in India, bourbon lingers at a nascent stage on the list of favoured liquors in the country.
But the trend seems to be changing. “Scotch whiskey is meant more specifically for traditional drinkers, while bourbon is best savoured by youngsters and the party crowd in the 25-30-year age group,” Bhatia said.

And to add more significance to bourbon whiskey, the American brew must always be distilled in Kentucky by norm, though it may be bottled elsewhere. On the other hand, Scotch whiskey can be produced anywhere as per a recipe.

The heritage of Scotch and Bourbon are both Western in origin. Post the Second World War, those countries with a large British influence, including India, inculcated a taste for Scotch whiskey (a Scottish invention), while those nations that were in closer proximity with America (like Germany and Australia), fell for bourbon.

Introduced in 1795, Jim Beam is the world’s largest bourbon whiskey brand. In 2014, the company Beam Global was was acquired by Japan’s Suntory Holdings for about $13.6 billion.
Currently, the company sells only two products off its rack in India: Jim Beam White and Jim Beam Black. “From next year onwards, we plan to launch more of our range in India, such as the Red Stag and our exclusive blend, the Devil’s Share. Besides, we are creating cool innovative packs like the car tin pack, changing the way Indians perceive whiskey. We predict the bourbon whiskey share to touch over 500,000 cases in the next five years,” Bhatia said.

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