A while back I pulled out both pistols and let loose at the Indian whisky industry – see Whisky and all. Today I’m starting off by reloading. I’m a say-what-you-mean, do-what-you-say kind of person…or at least I try to be. So I find it intrinsically offensive, nay incensing, that these guys are bottling cheap liquor – much of it made from molasses, unaged, and artificially flavoured – and calling it whisky.
The situation is of course a source of some controversy, for two reasons:
Firstly, this Indian product cannot be sold in the EU (and elsewhere) under the name whisky, despite the vigorous protests of whisky-magnate Vijay Mallya, and others of his ilk. The basis for their objections seem spurious to me, justified more by their obvious agenda than by any logic. A name is important. It is the source of identity, and the means by which we define the world around us. In a sense names are the foundation of all meaning in the world. Indian “whisky” is a con-job and an identity theft.
Secondly, foreign whisky imported into India is taxed at astronomical levels, flouting the agreements and the general spirit of the World Trade Organisation. Supposedly this has its roots in the cultural attitude towards liquor in India. Whilst I don’t have enough insight into the subject to convincingly dispute this point of view, I can’t help but wonder. It sounds like a conveniently nebulous cover story. India is the largest whisky market in the world, and it’s also the world’s most corrupt democracy – connect the dots. I’m picturing Indian politicians in upmarket villas…and to add insult to injury they’re certainly not drinking Bagpiper.
There’s little incentive to make genuine, quality whisky in this market, given that one would be competing in the same arena as opposition with a significant cost advantage, and yet the talk of the whisky town for the last year has been none other than an Indian whisky (note no inverted commas). So much for preconceived notions then. This whisky has been garnering awards and plaudits from the four corners, such is its merit. It is so far removed from its cousins that it’s insulting to imply any familial relationship whatsoever. They may share geographical origins but that’s where the similarities end.
The distillery is Amrut, and the whisky is Amrut Fusion. It’s a glimpse into the future. I managed to get hold of a bottle and before I could blink half of it was gone, my guests (Indian whisky?!?) making light work of their scepticism.
Surf over to WoW tomorrow for my review of Amrut Fusion.
F*** Vijay Mallya!
Every good story needs a villain. Ironically I’m a big fan of the Whyte & Mackay brands, Dalmore in particular. Delicious stuff.