Serving Whisky to the World is Indian Liquor Baron Rakshit Jagdale

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While studying in the UK, in 2001, Rakshit Jagdale did a detailed survey on the popularity of Indian liquor across the continent. Later in 2004, Rakshit launched India’s first Single Malt, Amrut, which has a wide presence globally for the last 12 years. From UK, they went to Western Europe and in 2008, it ventured in the US and Canada. Now it is selling in 12 countries globally.

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The inception of Amrut Distilleries goes back to 1948, when Rakshit’s grandfather, late Radhakrishna Rao Jagdale, started a simple bottling and blending unit. In 1972, Rakshit’s father, who is currently the Chairman and Managing Director, Neelakanth Rao Jagdale, joined the family business. He later insisted that the product should be displayed in malls and distributed as Amrut.

Amrut Single Malt was first introduced as brand overseas, and then it was brought to India. Talking about taking an Indian whisky brand global, Rakshit says, “An Indian Single Malt whisky has its own uniqueness and we wanted to create a niche for Indian Malt Whiskies in the world. We never wanted to be compared with Irish, Japanese or any other malt, we are leading and it has its own uniqueness and that is our USP.” The initial days were challenging as we had to convince our consumers that India does produce and can produce excellent quality liquor.”

In India, the brand is spread across major states in Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Chandigarh in North India and Union Territories like Daman and Diu and Pondicherry. “Our focus today is the export market and Karnataka and Goa. We are also planning to spread our brand across India, which will take a few years,” reveals Rakshit on expansion.

Amrut Single Malt whiskey is now available in 21 variants and out of which only three are available in India, mainly in Karnataka. The remaining portfolio is sold overseas. The reason being, most of them are bottled at high strength, which is about 57.1 per cent, and in India, liqour cannot be sold beyond certain percentage.

Internationally, it is looking at the Eastern Block like Poland, Czech Republic etc. The revenues currently stand at Rs 300 crore for the entire group. “We have large presence in Karnataka and Kerala, where we supply our economic and Indian made liquor. The malt whiskey currently accounts roughly 8 per cent compared to other domestic liquor brand," Rakshit adds.

(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)