“Aqua Vitae”, a Latin expression used for whisky, meaning ‘water of life’, and different versions of whisky are called ‘expressions’. After a very meticulous process of distillation of fermented grains like barley, rye, corn with distinguished spices and flavors given naturally while storing it as it ages.
The earliest production and consumption of whisky as an alcoholic beverage was done in Ireland and Scotland, there is a wide array of known types and brands of whisky. Whiskeys attain their specific translucent chocolate-brown color because of the absorbed reaction from the specific wooden barrels they are stored in.
While many get confused between whisky and scotch, scotch is a type of whisky finding its origin in specially made in Scotland. Jack Daniel's is a Tennessee whisky sold popularly and well-known among most consumed whisky brands. India has shown an upsurge not only in the consumption of whisky but also in the production of top whisky brands in India.
Indian whisky production has acquired the efficiency to make a considerable variety of whisky and specialties of different brands, here we give you a list of the top 25 whisky brands in India.
1. Royal Stag Barrel Select
Distinguished for the unique packaging and non-use of artificial flavors and recycled bottles. The custom-designed bottle contains 42.8 percent of an alcoholic strength from a fine conflation of imported scotch malts and selective Indian grains.
The blend is then stored in hand-picked oak barrels to give them a standard velvet and aromatic texture. Despite being a deluxe whisky brand, it is easily affordable.
2. Blenders Pride Reserve Collection
A premium whisky brand in India that involves significant ethnicity of the crafters, scotch malts from the Chivas mixed with Indian grain spirit, and Spanish maturation process called ‘Solera’.
A sip of this whisky gives off a creamy, sweet, smoky-fruity taste with an alcohol concentration of 42.8 percent, a standard amount found in almost every Indian whisky brand.
3. Paul John Single Malt
Mr. Paul John’s guidance and passion for malts, Goa’s climate, and indigenous ingredients gave a combined influence on the creation of this whisky and one of the top-selling whisky brands in India.
With simple ingredients like barley, water, and yeast, whisky is distilled and matured in American oak casks, then bottled as golden brilliance. The whisky has no additives and non-chilled usage. It contains 46 percent alcohol concentration and price ranges from 5,000 INR- 6,000 INR.
4. Amrut Single Malt
Established post-independence, Amrut distilleries started producing single malt whiskeys and are attributed as India’s first single malt whisky. Jim Murray, whisky-guru, has given top ratings for the gradual warm sensation, fruity flavors detected on the palate, and honey-like ending taste.
The base process for its making involves specially grown and harvested north-east barley, stored in American oak and treated to bourbon to give it a sweet texture.
5. Imperial Blue
Another successful whisky brand in India by Seagram’s globally placed as the third highest-selling whisky brand made by scotch malts and Indian grains.
It has become quite popular among new-age whisky lovers because of its smoothness and slight burn on lips and back of the throat, and a little lemon juice haze sensation on the nose. Adding to its credibility is its price that ranges from 600 INR- 1000 INR.
6. McDowell’s Signature
Yet another household whisky brand name among Indian whisky lovers also because it's been in business for almost three decades. Which also contributes to its base ingredients of fine Indian grains, especially molasses and scotch malts with an amber tint to the whisky.
A very special octagonal base design of the bottle is packaged to increase its value.
7. Royal Challenge
A rich alcoholic sensation rolling in the mouth gives pleasure to experience an emotional ride, and that’s what this Royal Challenge’s manufacturers try to blend in this whisky.
This whisky brand in India was the first to cross the one million consumer thresholds when it was released in the 1980s. Till today, this classic whisky seems persistent in giving the feels, the outcome of rich molasses Indian and scotch malt brewed together.
8. Rampur Single Malt
Adding to all the significant collection of whisky brands in India, an elite and vintage piece in your single malt collection is a must. Known as ‘Kohinoor Of Single Malts’, it has a laid-back taste preference of Maharajas or kings with a traditional aspect.
The characteristics of this super-premium drink are its distillation process done in copper pots that have been in continuation for 75 years, it is matured in the climatic conditions of the Himalayas and served as a non-chilled filtered royal whisky glass.
9. Antiquity Blue
Antiquity blue is made from the diligent process of a grain distillation, matured in white oak casks, and later fused with premium Scotch malts. The characteristic of this whisky brand is the scent of peat from copper pots stills and the use of heather that gives velvety texture on the palate and mouth.
It was said to be one of the premium and expensive whiskey brands in India when it was sold in China in 2007. A perfect Indigo blue color 750 ml bottle filled gold color whisky with 42.8% alcohol concentration to give you a sensorial experience.
Launched under the flagship of Radico Khaitan brand, it crossed one million cases in the early six to one year of its launch. This whisky blend contains a smooth and strong balance of sweet, smoky, fizzy, and lavish taste. Made from rich quality grains added another fizz in its records to make it in the ‘LIMCA Book of Records 2001’.
This whisky brand has given quite a competition to other Indian whisky brands like Rampur single malt from the same Rampur distillery and Bagpipers’. The actual price may vary within places, 500 INR is the affordability for this whisky brand.
11. Officer’s Choice
You might have seen the advertisement showing two police officers allotted duty to let pass the politician's car, but the junior police officer first lets the rushing ambulance go first, this brand has tried to approach the young with the tagline ‘Jagao Apne Andar Ka Officer’ to stand against wrong.
Made of the finest Indian grain spirits, stored in charred oak barrels and bottled in an elegant-designed with twist-lock and tear-off caps. It has been loved by many whisky lovers around the world, and it once crossed sales of Johnnie Walker.
12. Chivas Regal 12 Year Old
A whisky lover with a deeper appreciation for the art of making whisky has this whisky brand name memorized like alphabets. Originally from the United Kingdom, it is a blended scotch widely enjoyed in Europe and Asia and has been a leading signature whisky that surrounded the Indian market, not as an alternative but a choice for whisky lovers.
It has an after-taste of apple and honey and a luxurious feel to it because once it was supplied to Queen Victoria. The alcohol strength of this whisky is 43 percent and 3500 INR is the price, which may differ by region.
13. Ballantine’s Finest
First established by George Ballantine in 1827, the first original recipe for whisky was made with more than 40 single malts, more proportions of Miltonduff and Glenburgie, and 4 single grain whiskies.
The flavor consists of rich, smoky, and smooth tastes of apple, caramel, and toffee. Another perk for this whisky brand is that its ‘no-age’ quality and affordability is 1790 INR for such an ultra-premium whisky brand in the Indian market.
14. The Glenlivet
The first whisky brand to get licensed in 1824, it is a single malt scotch whisky-based purely in Scotland. It is recommended for beginners to try this whisky brand by bartenders and restaurants.
There are sub-brand products of the same name differing by their ages, but they have this basic creamy, citrus, cinnamon, and smoky aromas to differentiate them from other whisky brands in India.
15. Johnnie Walker
Every experiment has to go through the trial and error stage to reach a satisfactory result, and that has been the case with Johnnie Walker. Arose from John Walker's household grocery in Scotland, was known as Special Old Highland Whisky in the 1820s. After the death of John Walker, the original recipe went through a lot of modifications under his son and grandson.
This whisky has the versatility to blend with any other drink like a cocktail and even simplest with water, how the British prime minister Winston Churchill used to drink this whisky.
This whisky brand has three sub-label whiskies; red label, black label, loved by Indian consumers of this whisky, and blue label, which has rated top among Johnnie Walker lovers. This scotch whisky, a blend of many malts, has an alcohol strength of 40 percent, prices may differ depending on the label and region of purchase.
16. 100 Pipers Deluxe Scotch whisky
Holding a Scottish legend in its name about heroic bagpiper's soldiers, the 'Hundred Pipers' ballad, and tradition, this scotch whisky gives a heavy yet gentle and smooth finishing to your mouthful sips with a flavourful, mellow taste.
Among quite known and distributed spirits, this especially has been devoured by whisky lovers in Asia and has been a whisky brand in India to organize a music event annually.
17. Bagpiper's Blended Whisky
"Khoob Jamega Rang, Jab Mil Baithenge Teen Yaar….", a very familiar tagline from the advertisement of this whisky brand in India, manufactured popularly serving the semi-urban and rural population. A slight difference in its ingredients is neutral spirits blended with scotch malts.
The golden hue whisky is bottled in a square bottomed glass bottle with a soldier appearing to be marching playing the piper instrument. It is one of the under the budget whisky with the approximate price of 500 INR.
18. Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve
The whisky finds its origin in Scotland, now it is owned and bottled by United Spirits, an Indian subsidiary of Diageo, an umbrella franchise for many whisky brands in India mentioned above.
It has an aroma of spices like pepper with butterscotch and creamy layers of flavors felt on the palate. Based on Indian standards, the alcohol percentage is 42.8 percent and the price differs from state to state, an assumed start price may be under 500 INR to more.
19. Vat69 Blended Scotch Whisky
The specific 69 number in the brand name is attached to the history of the making of this whisky. William Sanderson made 100 different types of vattings of whisky and, through expert whisky tasters’ preference, he chose the 69th vatting for its signature whisky that has a non-age statement.
It is not a vatted malt but a blend of 40 malts and grain whisky from which barley malt hints are sensed most with other notes of caramel, woody, and nutty adding to its finish. Vat69 came to awareness among whisky drinkers through the 1970s Bollywood villains, and later it was a locally bottled whisky brand in India.
A classic Speyside single malt whisky, it is named after the Gaelic meaning "valley of the deer'', with the ambitions of William Grant to create "the best dram in the valley". He started a family hand-built distillery in 1887, one of the most successful distilleries of Speyside that used the water from the Robbie Dhu Spring and on-site made oak barrels.
It has subtle creamy and pear essence and sweet aftertaste, it does not have a fixed alcoholic strength, it ranges from 40-51 percent. The Grant sons expanded their distillery production to India in 2009 by taking on Diageo.
A very intriguing sherry oak cask aged whisky, another variety from Speyside and third-largest selling whisky brand globally. It is known for its unique smallest copper stills that make it full-bodied single malt.
It is said to be tried at least once among whisky drinkers in India. You can access this whisky brand in Indian duty-free shops located in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The price may differ from shop to shop and some stores in international airports.
22. Jameson Irish Whiskey
The two main centers of whisky's origin, Irish whiskeys, are less discussed but have shown a great impact overall in the world. Jameson Irish Whiskey stands as a foundation of other established whisky brands after it, this whisky was made by a Scottish man John Jameson who started its development much before Scotland in 1774.
This particular Irish whisky has a great adaptation to the drinker's preference to drink it as neat, with soda or cocktail. It has an age statement of 4 years, and its smooth triple-distilled sip from your glass is unforgettable.
23. Tullamore D.E.W
It is the second most available Irish whisky brand in India after Jameson. It was first created by blending three different types of Irish whiskeys; single grain, single malt, and pot still whiskeys that are then matured in three different casks like sherry and bourbon.
A whisky drinker can taste nutty, citrus, vanilla, and buttery finishings to the sip. It was first available in only duty-free stores, but it was decided to sell it locally because of growing sales. The alcohol percentage is 40 and the price may start from 2000 INR to more varying prices in the stores.
24. Dewar's White Label
Founded by John Dewar and continued by his sons, the brand is owned by the Bacardi company. The making and marketing strategy of this whisky brand is unique in the history of single malt and blended Scotch whisky. To give off the signature smoothness to the whisky, base whiskies are mixed as one in the Oak casks to age and age more further till it reaches the standards of bottling.
Thomas Dewar, son of John Dewar, used to throw empty dewar bottles with notes inside which can be a prize or surprise to whoever finds it from the sea. Dewar's 18 has been popular in the Indian market and has a price range from 500 INR to 2000 INR.
25. Jack Daniel’s
Whisky brands in India whether manufactured or top-selling, Jack Daniel's gives a nostalgic and classic addition to the list. This Tennessee whisky never fails to exaggerate the emotional appeal to a whisky lover, with sweet and soft butterscotch sip rolling in your mouth. The alcohol percentage is 45, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 has more sales in India the affordability is 4,600 INR approx for a 750 ml bottle.
The nineteenth century in Indian history saw the introduction of scotch whisky and the first whisky distillery was established in Kasauli in the late 1820s. India took the lead of the largest whisky consumers, as much as 48 percent alone globally.
An aficionado, Jean LeNoir said the best time to drink a peg of whisky is in the late morning, before lunch when your mind and taste buds are relaxed and the aroma of the whisky is appealing.
Snacks and side ingredients that best compliment whisky have a very appetizing variety like dark chocolate, cheese, dried fruit and nuts, lemon, ginger which boosts medicinal features of whisky, ginger ale, and much more.
Moreover, whisky holds notable health benefits because of its plant-based antioxidant ingredients which helps reduce risks of heart failure, lower bad cholesterol, reduce fat in the blood, drinking whisky in very less amount every night can lower chances of having a stroke, whisky has a proportion of ellagic acid which helps to cope with cancer, even simple hassles like cold and digestion related problems are invigorated with a small amount of whisky.
So do not guilt over that held toast and enjoy your love for whisky. Also, let us know your favorite whisky brand in India in the comment box. Do, like, and share this with your buds.