India has always had an identity crisis about alcohol: is it a pernicious colonial hangover or secular pleasure? Despite the rising tide of prohibition, whisky consumption is one of the few fields in which our country leads the world (we’re talking quantity, not quality). The coyness continues, but some high-spirited entrepreneurs have come up with new tipples that showcase our national genius for spiritual abstraction.
With premium Indian whiskies like Amrut and Paul John winning international prizes, you might think that our less celebrated wine-makers might have a case of you know… sour grapes. Instead the clever people at Sula embraced the ancient Indian concept of jugaad and produced a ‘premium whisky’ called Eclipse, using a combination of grape spirits (something they are presumably not short of) and a dash of Captain Haddock’s favourite single malt, the Loch Lomond. An English Wine of sorts.
After demonetisation and its discontents, India’s big brewers are banking on a good hot summer of chilled beer. A dozen new brands are expected to be rolled out this year. Craft beers are the next big thing and strong beers have always been inordinately popular. No wonder Carlsberg decided to lead the way with their latest offering Tuborg Classic—a ‘premium strong beer with Scotch malts’. Sounds like it requires at least two cheers: skål and slàinte.