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Indri Indian Whisky – Your Complete Guide to Exploring This Rising Star

Welcome to the final part of our three-part series on the biggest Indian whisky brands. This week, we take a look at the history and development of Indri. 

Be sure to read the previous installments on Amrut as well as Paul John and Rampur.

India became the UK’s largest market for Scotch whisky by volume in 2022, importing 219 million bottles according to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Surprisingly, Scotch whisky imports comprise only 2% of the Indian whisky market, as India is also amongst the world’s major whisky manufacturers, producing 189 million cases of whisky in 2019. 

The majority of Indian spirits labeled as ‘whisky’ are closer to rum due to being distilled from molasses, falling within a category of alcohol termed as Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), and are marketed to domestic Indian consumers. 

Historically, India’s malt whisky distillation occurred only on a small scale, as the production of alcohol from barley proved controversial in an era of widespread poverty and grain shortages. 

Inspired by the continually expanding single malt market forged by the Scotch whisky industry, India’s distillers have aspired to release their own premium single malt whiskies, demonstrating the quality and unique character whisky gains in India’s tropical climate. 

A trilogy of articles explores the history and development of India’s four largest brands which have gained international recognition for Indian single malt whisky. 

The final article examines newcomer Piccadily Distilleries Indri single malt brand, the highly regarded winner of the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023. This article also considers upcoming brands and developments within the Indian whisky industry. 

A History of The Piccadily Distilleries Group 

Piccadily Distillery

The Piccadily Distilleries Group was originally established as Kedar Nath and Sons, by K.N. Sharma in 1953. Located in Doraha, Punjab, Kedar Nath and Sons began as a liquor distributor, quickly expanding and gaining all the Punjab region’s key liquor supply contracts. 

In 1967, the ‘Piccadily’ brand was created when the ‘Picadili Restaurant and Bar’ opened in Chandigarh, with K.N. Sharma inspired by London’s Piccadilly Circus. The Piccadily Group continued to diversify the company’s business interests, entering film distribution by opening theatres in Amritsar and Jalandhar in 1972 and launching the first ‘Piccadily Hotel’ in Chandigarh in 1975. 

The Piccadily Distilleries Group In The Modern-Day 

In 1993, the Piccadily Group expanded into the alcohol manufacturing and distillery business by purchasing the company’s first sugar mill and distillery in Patiala, Punjab. The Piccadily Distilleries division quickly grew as a second sugar mill and distillery was established in Indri, Haryana in 1994. 

From 2008, Piccadily became the first Indian company to be granted permission to produce alcohol using sugar cane juice, the liquid extracted from pressed sugar cane, using American oak barrels imported from the United States for maturation, when distillation began in 2009. The Camikara cane juice rum brand was launched in 2022.

Indri Single Malt Whisky 

A bottle of Indri Indian Whisky

By 2010, Piccadily Distilleries was envisioning the creation of a whisky distillery to rival those in Scotland, and focusing on the production of premium high-end malt spirits adhering to Scottish and EU definitions and legislation. 

Where Is Indri Whisky Made? 

Piccadily commissioned Raj Industries to repurpose the Indri distillery in 2010, building one of India’s largest malt plants on the site. A third Piccadily distillery was established at Bawal, Haryana in 2018, with the aim of producing high-end spirits, whilst phasing out the molasses-based Indian whisky of the past. 

Piccadily Distilleries malt whisky bottling for the Indian domestic market, Whistler Blended Whisky was launched in 2020. 

Which Indri Whisky Is The Best? 

An image of the Indri Diwali Collector's Edition 2023
Indri’s Diwali Collector’s Edition 2023 was awarded ‘Best In Show Double Gold’ at the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023.

In 2021, Piccadily Distilleries launched Indri Single Malt Indian Whisky for the international market, with the Indri Trini expression. Indri Single Malt is made using six-row barley grown in India’s Rajasthan region and distilled in Indian crafted copper pot-stills resulting in a light, floral, and fruity spirit. 

Piccadily’s first bottling, the Indri Trini expression is named for the triple cask maturation, using ex-bourbon, ex-wine, and PX sherry casks. A cask strength expression, Indri Dru, was released in 2023. 

Gaining greater recognition of the quality and growing popularity of Indian whisky globally, the limited-edition Indri Diwali Collectors Edition 2023, a peated Indian single malt matured in PX sherry casks, was awarded ‘Best in Show Double Gold’ at the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023. 

Indian Whisky: The Future  

Since 2004, Indian whisky releases have positioned India as a purveyor of quality malt whiskies whilst earning global recognition. This is evidenced by the medals and awards India’s malt whiskies have collected, for instance, the Paul John single malt brand has won over 300 awards in less than a decade, including medals at the World Whisky Awards and International Wine & Spirit Competitions. 

Similarly, Amrut’s Fusion expression was voted as the Whisky Bible’s 3rd Best Whisky in the World in 2010, and Indri’s Diwali Collectors Edition 2023 competed against over 100 global whiskies to be awarded ‘Best in Show Double Gold’ at the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023. 

The Domestic Market For Indian Whisky 

Domestically, sales of Indian single malt whisky have increased, accounting for 33% of India’s whisky market in 2022. Whilst India’s single malt distillation currently comprises approximately 10% of the country’s alcohol production, the growing popularity of Indian whisky in domestic and export markets makes it a certainty the percentage of malt distillation in India will increase. 

New Indian malt distilleries are also jostling for position, Goa’s second distillery Kamet, and Godawan, Rajasthan’s first distillery owned by international beverage company Diageo, launched their first single malt expressions in 2021.   

A Timeline of the Piccadily Group/Indri Indian Whisky 

1953                K.N. Sharma establishes a company named, Kedar Nath and Sons, in Doraha, Punjab. A liquor distributor, Kedar Nath and Sons quickly expanded and was awarded the state’s major liquor contracts.

1967                The Piccadily Group brand is launched when the company opened ‘Picadili Restaurant and Bar’ in Chandigarh.

1972                The Piccadily Group enters the film distribution business, opening theatres in Amritsar and Jalandhar.

1975                The Piccadily Group opens the first ‘Piccadily Hotel’ in Chandigarh, with the chain later expanding to other Indian cities.

1993                The Piccadily Group purchases the company’s first sugar mill and distillery in Patiala, Punjab, entering the alcohol manufacturing and distillery business.

1994                The Piccadily Group establishes a second sugar mill and distillery in Indri, Haryana.

2008                The Piccadily Group becomes the first company in India to be granted permission to produce alcohol from sugar cane juice.

2009                Importing oak barrels from the United States, the Piccadily Group begins distilling using sugar cane juice.

2010                Envisioning a malt distillery to rival any in Scotland, and focusing on the production of premium high-end malt spirits adhering to Scottish and EU definitions and legislation, the Piccadily Group commissions Raj Industries to repurpose the Indri distillery, building one of India’s largest malt plants.

2018                A third Piccadily distillery is established at Bawal, Haryana.

2020                Whistler Blended Whisky is launched in India, the Piccadily Group’s domestic whisky bottling.

2021                Indri Single Malt Indian Whisky is launched for the international market, with the Indri Trini expression.

2022                Camikara cane juice rum is launched.

2023                Indri Dru, a cask strength expression is launched for the international market. Indri Diwali Collectors Edition 2023 is released, and wins ‘Best in Show Double Gold’ at the Whiskies of the World Awards 2023.

 

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