With India’s whisky consumption rapidly rising, it’s time to uncover the world of the best Indian whisky brands. While many take a less-traditional approach using spirits distilled from molasses, certain brands stick to the classic single-malt whisky experts crave.
After reading this, you’ll have the full picture of India’s best whisky brands, including the premium options and the everyday brands with incredible popularity. The only challenging part will be deciding which you want to try first.
These Indian Whiskey brands are worth tasting:
1. Amrut Whisky
2. Paul John Whisky
3. Rampur Whisky
4. Solan No.1 Whisky
5. Kamet Whisky
6. Antiquity Whisky
7. Bagpiper Whisky
8. Blenders Pride Whisky
9. 8PM Whisky
10. Royal Stag Whisky
11. Officer’s Choice
12. McDowell’s Whisky
Founded in 1948, Amrut Whisky’s origins are closely tied to the independence of India as a nation. And Amrut keeps its Indian roots close. It uses barley grown in the Himalayan foothills and is distilled in Karnataka.
When you want to sip on one of the best Indian whiskies, Amrut has to be on top of the list.
Amrut also forged a new path in 2004 by creating its first single-malt whisky. Before then, India could only produce molasses-based whisky. This process failed to meet the actual whisky classifications in other parts of the world, such as Europe.
But that all changed with Amrut’s single malt. Now Amrut has a variety of whiskies available for sale, including a peated single malt and one with 50% ABV. There’s something for every palate and every price level.
John Distilleries may have only started in 1996, but it’s swept the globe and found rapid success. The company now owns a portfolio of alcohol brands, including the incredibly popular Paul John Whisky.
The malt plant that supports Paul John Single Malts is in the beautiful state of Goa. The picturesque beaches, incredible food, and friendly people are the perfect location for this delectable drink.
But Paul John Whisky has now gone far beyond Goa. It’s considered one of the best single malts in the world, surpassing those produced in Scotland. You can find it in 40 different countries with seven distinct core expressions.
The Zodiac Series has won multiple awards for its Kanya and Mithuna varieties. But even if you pick up a bottle of the less prestigious John Paul Single Malts, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
Described as the “Kohinoor of Single Malts,” Rampur Single Malt Whisky is one to take seriously. By comparing itself to one of the world’s largest cut diamonds, Rampur’s expectations are sky-high. And it flies right over that hurdle without breaking a sweat.
The copper pot stills used to create Rampur Single Malt are some of the oldest in India, dating back to 1943.
Now part of Radico Khaitan, Rampur Whisky will continue its upward trajectory in the booming Indian whisky market. And it’s not just the domestic buyers that eagerly await their creations. This Indian whisky brand has global attention.
As another one of the best Indian whiskey brands, Solan No.1 Whisky brings a long history of distilling experience along. The roots go back to the 1820s when Scotsman Edward Dyer found an area in India that matched his native land.
The distillery is above 6,000 feet (1,830 m) elevation, providing it with a mountain taste impossible to fake. The Kasauli-based operations for Solan Whisky started in 1835. It named its whisky after the nearby town of Solan.
The mouthfeel is excellent in Solan Whisky and it incorporates the usual flair that Indian whisky is known for. The exotic flavors sit in the back seat compared to the traditional structure, thanks to Solan No.1 sticking to the classic whisky creation method.
Named after the third-highest peak in the Indian Himalayas, Kamet Whisky strives to be one of the highest on the horizon. Using a combination of American and French oak casks, plus those used to make sherry, aged single malt Kamet Whisky is impressive.
Two master blenders, Surrinder Kumar and Nancy Fraley, joined forces to create this balanced and complex whisky.
Kamet has already made a name for itself and will continue its upward trend. It has a fruity aroma paired with the classic oaky notes. The hints of vanilla and dark chocolate come through on your pallet, providing a well-balanced flavor with a long, warm finish.
While India’s whiskies are quickly building a reputation, the Scottish whiskeys are undoubtedly one of the world’s best with a rich history.
Antiquity Whisky leverages this expertise while simultaneously venturing into new territory. It started in 1992 as an Indian whisky that also blends the domestically-distilled spirit with a Scotch malt whisky from Cameronbridge Distillery, creating an impressive blend.
It has won multiple awards, including a top prize at the 2012 International Wine and Spirit Competition. With its connections to Shaw Wallace, with origins reaching back to 1886, it makes sense that this expertise is coming through.
When you want to taste one of the most popular Indian whiskies, Bagpiper is one of the top choices. It is deeply connected with Bollywood entertainment and is one of the largest producers based on volume.
Bagpiper Whisky blends Scotch and Indian malts and spirits to make an unforgettable combination. It has a lighter aroma and is easy on the palette, which is part of why it is such a popular spirit.
It formed in 1976, and nearly fifty years later, it has blossomed into a giant. You can purchase unique bottles and decanters with a tap, making it a charming selection.
The Chivas Brothers name holds a lot of prestige in the whisky world, and it’s one that Blenders Pride utilizes to create a premium whisky blend from India. Launched in 1995, Blenders Pride Whisky brings in Scotland’s long tradition and customizes it to the growing Indian market.
By using local Indian grains, Blenders Pride is known for its more robust and spicy flavor.
It is available in the Rare Premium and Reserve Collection blends. The Reserve was released in 2011 and brings out a fruity palate, while the Rare Premium sticks to the woody profile with a touch of Scottish peat.
We all know the phrase “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” But usually, the time for sipping whisky comes a little later. And that’s where 8PM Whisky hits the mark.
As the flagship brand of Radico Khaitan, 8PM destroyed expectations within its first year by selling one million cases.
Like other top brands, it fuses Indian grain spirits with Scotch malt to create a flavorful yet efficient process. It ages in white oak casks to attain a smooth blend and smoky flavor, yet the vanilla, honey, and spice notes still come through powerfully, especially in the finish.
As Pernod Ricard’s best-selling brand by volume, Royal Stag is one of the company’s core brands and one of India’s most popular whiskies. It was launched in 1995 and takes the usual price-efficient process of blending Indian grain spirits with Scotch malts.
What sets Royal Stag apart is the lack of artificial flavor, a regular occurrence in other Indian whiskies. By doing so, it puts itself into a higher class of Indian whiskies.
As the name suggests, you’ll find a deer with glorious antlers on the label. It’s a distinctive look making it easy to spot a Royal Stag bottle anywhere.
When you’re looking for the most common Indian whisky, Officer’s Choice (OC) is what to reach for. Its sales figures are mind-boggling, overtaking Smirnoff vodka as the world’s top-selling brand in 2015.
Although it’s well-known as an affordable option, select variations of Officer’s Choice have started to reach across into upper segments. These include Officer’s Choice Blue and Officer’s Choice Black, following a pattern of other whisky producers.
One difference is that OC is not made from molasses like many other lower-priced Indian whiskies, technically making them rum. Instead, OC uses Indian grain and Scottish malt to create a pungent yet smooth profile and taste.
In 1898, Scottish distiller Angus McDowell expanded the McDowell of Scotland to a branch in India. It wasn’t until 1959 that new ownership company Mallya established the first Indian distillery for the brand. But even then, it was for brandy, not whisky. The eventual launch of McDowell’s No.1 Whisky came in 1968.
In 2006, the brand released No.1 Diet Mate, the world’s first diet whisky due to its ingredients reported to increase metabolism.
If you haven’t yet discovered Indian whisky, it’s time to catch up with the times. India is quickly becoming one of the world’s largest producers of this wonderful spirit.
Some of the varieties use blending techniques not found in other countries, but Indian whisky has also premium options that can rival the world’s best.