From old favourites to popular newcomers, here are the 25 names that every Indian drinker is more than familiar with.
What’s India drinking now? While most people do have their favourite tipple – that one drink that they stick to, Indians have started becoming more experimental with their alcohol preferences, willing to try new brands as well as spend more on a quality drinks
With so much information available online and easy accessibility to even imported brands at wine shops in India, The Indian Consumer is spoilt for choice. Choices that are worth straying from “the regular” at home or at restaurants and pubs. Indians are also travelling abroad more than ever and consuming new brands and variants on their business trips and holidays. So along with old favourites, there are plenty of new alcohols being savoured as well.
A round-up of the alcohol brands that Indians love now.
Most Popular Beer Brands in India
1. The High Flyer: Kingfisher
Homegrown, Kingfisher, holds a special place in the hearts of desi beer drinkers. Even the Indian Gen Xers, who can now afford pricier brands often forgo fancier foreign counterparts in favour of this sentimental favourite. A real old time’s sake brew, Kingfisher is available as Premium, Ultra, Strong and Mild varieties. It’s tasty, readily available and affordable, making it a very popular beer in India.
2. Young & Restless: Bira 91
This delicious Indian craft beer burst onto the scene just a few years ago and has already become the ‘it’ drink to nurse on a warm, sunny afternoon or a night out. With five beers in their portfolio, you can choose from the subtle and sweet Bira 91 White, which is a big hit with those who like milder tasting beers that are low on bitterness, Bira 91 Blonde which is hoppier and , Bira 91 Light that goes perfect with an afternoon meal , Bira 91 Strongwhich has a higher alcohol content , and the recently launched Bira 91 Indian Pale Ale – an IPA bottled and brewed in India.
3. The Great Dane: Carlsberg
Carlsberg set up shop in India in 2007. Even though strong beer makes up 80% of the market, the Danish brand has firm footing among beer lovers with their Indian business growing 19% by volume in 2018. Football fanatics are also familiar with the brand as it is the official sponsor for the Liverpool Football Club, which has a massive following in India.
4. The New Favourite: Tuborg
A favourite for its taste and quirky advertisements, Tuborg is available in regular Tuborg Green and Tuborg Strong varieties. While Tuborg Green is lighter and less bitter, Tuborg Strong has a higher alcohol content and is loved by those who take their strong brews seriously.
Most Popular Rum Brands in India
5. The Old Faithful: Old Monk
This iconic Indian rum is by far one of the most popular brands of hard liquor in India. The winning combination of taste and affordable price makes Old Monk the drink of choice for so many Indians. Recently, the dark rum brand also launched a line of alcopop for convenient, pre-mixed drinking, in line with drinks such as the Bacardi Breezer.
6. Fresh Feeling: Bacardi
When it comes to white rum, no one quite hits the sweet spot better than Bacardi with its distinct and recognizable flavour. Bacardi’s sweet citrusy smell, with herbal hints and a touch of spice and vanilla aromas, making it alcohol of choice for all kinds of cocktails. If you are in India and looking to drink white rum, this is one alcohol you can find almost everywhere.
7. Tropical Paradise: Cabo
Made in Goa, Cabo is India’s answer to Malibu – a coconut flavoured rum. Served neat on the ice, Cabo is also great for cocktails like Pina Colada as its sweet coconutty taste pairs well with a lot of mixers. This tropical tasting rum is a favourite for many and a tasty souvenir to bring back home if you visit Goa.
8. Sweet & Spicy: Captain Morgan
Captain Morgan is another fan favourite. The spiced rum has a molasses base and is loved for its unique and rich flavour. There are several versions of the alcohol available around the world; however, in India, you can only get your hands on Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum and Captain Morgan Black Jamaica Rum. It is also often seen as a more premium alternative to Old Monk.
Most Popular Whisky Brands in India
9. Fan Favourite: Blenders Pride
Blenders Pride is a smooth and mellow Whisky. It’s a desi delight that combines quality with affordability. In India, it is in the range of premium whiskeys and is best served with plain or sparkling water or on ice. There is also a rare and dearer variant of the brand called Blenders Pride Reserve Collection.
10. Double Trouble: Director’s Special
Director’s Special has two variants available: DSP and DSP Black. Both whiskeys have a strong flavour and a smooth finish. The whiskey has a subtle oaken hint, which is a hit among the Indian whiskey lovers
11. Award Winner: Amrut
If there is one whiskey that has put India on the global map, it is Amrut. It is an internationally-acclaimed whiskey and India’s first Home Grown single malt. The whiskey brand is manufactured by Amrut Laboratories, and there are several Amrut whiskey varieties you can choose from, including peated malt whiskey, single malt whiskey and Amrut Herald. Amrut is made with select Indian barley from the foothills of the Himalayas, which adds to its rich and smooth taste loved by connoisseurs.
12. Smooth Operator: Paul John
A newcomer to the whiskey market in India, Paul John (launched in 2012) has already made all the right moves with its fantastic collection of award-winning, high-end single malt whiskeys. All the brand ’s variants are crafted using carefully selected indigenous barley and yeast. This adds to the taste and smoothness of the liquor. The brand has interesting varieties, some with hints of honey, apple, vanilla and even cinnamon. Whiskey friends can also tour the distillery in Goa. It is open every Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
13. Cocktail Caper: Jim Beam
An American bourbon whiskey, Jim Beam is much sweeter than scotch whiskey, and the alcohol exudes a woody aroma. For a light drinker, Jim Beam is best enjoyed with cola. There’s a hint of vanilla and caramel in the whiskey which pairs well with the sweetness of cola. Traditional whiskey drinkers can enjoy the drink in a short glass over ice. Jim Beam is one of the most versatile whiskeys, and many bars use the alcohol as a base for delicious whiskey cocktails.
14. Gold Medal: Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker Black Label is the signature premium whiskey in India. It has been a favourite of those who take their drink seriously for decades. Smooth and warm on the palate, it has an intense, rich gold hue with hints of vanilla and fruity, spicy and smoky aromas.
15. Life of The Party: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Jack Daniels is another favourite because of its acclaim and sizeable fan following worldwide. Its sweet taste also goes down well with the Indian palate. A versatile bourbon whiskey, you can use it to make a variety of drinks. Bars in India often use this alcohol to make bourbon whiskey cocktails. The brand has a range of whiskeys under its armoury, the most famous one is Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Black Label. It is the brand’s flagship whiskey.
Most Popular Gin Brands in India
16. Old Favourite: Bombay Sapphire
One of the most popular brands of gin in the world, Bombay Sapphire is the premium gin of choice in India. Legend has it that its Bombay connection is due to the demand for gin during the time of the British Raj.
17. English Classic: Gordon’s London Dry Gin
The perfect gin for a classic G&T, Gordon’s is loved for its floral and distinctive juniper flavour and is the go-to for those looking to savour a dry gin in India. The brand is almost 250 years old and a great way to get the weekend started.
18. Local Legend: Blue Riband
The desi alternative to Gordon’s, Blue Riband gin was launched in 1959 and has been a favourite for gin lovers in India for decades. Its light juniper and citrus aroma in combination with its amazingly low price, make it a great party favourite.
Most Popular Brandy Brands in India
19. Sweet & Soothing: Honey Bee
Honey Bee is by far the best known and most loved Indian brand of brandy. It is rich and smooth alcohol with a slightly sweet taste. Often drunk as a throat soother for coughs and colds, this brandy is easy on the pocket without compromising on taste or quality.
20. Winning Choice: Old Admiral
Born from a Delhi-based brandy manufacturer, Old Admiral is another great brandy made in India. Internationally, it has also gained some recognition for its superior taste, winning a silver medal for overall excellence at Monde Selection 2008 in Belgium.
Most Popular Vodka Brands in India
21. Price Is Right: Romanov
Drawing its name from the Czarist dynasty of Russia, Romanov is a popular vodka brand in India. It was one of the highest selling vodka brands as it is incredibly affordable. You can choose from Romanov’s Premium, Orange, Lemon and Apple varieties.
22. Cocktail King: White Mischief
White Mischief vodka is one of the highest selling vodkas in India, pitched as a young, fun choice for parties and nights out. White Mischief is a mild drink that is great for cocktails. It’s low in price compared to more premium vodkas in the market, contributing to its popularity.
23. Foreign Return: Smirnoff
A well-known international brand, Smirnoff is now being made in India. Smirnoff vodka comes with varying Alcohol Base Values. There are over 30 flavours of Smirnoff vodka available around the world, and it is one of the most popular premium brands being consumed in India.
24. The Smooth Swede: Absolut
Just like with Smirnoff, Absolut is an international vodka brand that distils vodka in India. The Swedish brand is known to be very smooth and has a fan following with those who enjoy premium vodka. There are over 25 variants of the vodka available around the world. Their attractive bottles make great gifts.
25. Out of The Box: Magic Moments
Although made in India, Magic Moments has a huge fan following in the international market as well, mainly the UK. The vodka is triple distilled and gluten-free. deliciously crisp taste and is available in six flavours.
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