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164 www. bus- ex. com November 09 That's spirit

Amrut Distilleries November 09 www. bus- ex. com 165 That's spirit Bangalore- based Amrut Distilleries produces one of the finest single malt whiskies in the world, and has ambitious plans for expansion, as Rakshit Jagdale explains to Gay Sutton W hen you think of single malt whisky you tend to think of the highlands of Scotland: rugged heather covered mountains, peat bogs and incredibly fresh spring water that imparts its own unique quality. You don't tend to think of the heat, colour and exuberance of India. Yet connoisseurs around the world are beginning to realise how wrong that impression is. Amrut single malt whiskies have been making an appearance in specialist shops all across the European Union, are now breaking into the markets of South Africa and Australia and are gaining a reputation for quality. Spirits have, of course, been distilled in India for many generations. Amrut Distilleries is a family run business formed just after the independence of India in 1948. Beginning in a small way in Bangalore, a major milestone came in 1961 when the company began to supply the Armed Forces of India. Today, Amrut has two distinct product streams. The mainstay of the business is the production of around 2.8 million cases of rum- India is the second largest producer of sugar cane after Brazil- one million cases of brandy and 400,000 cases of blended whisky for the domestic market. The majority of this is sold in the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala, but the Armed Forces continues to be an important customer, being the only truly pan- Indian distribution channel. The second product stream- a range of high quality single malt whiskies which are purely for the export market- is setting India firmly on the whisky making map. Confident in the quality of the product and undaunted by the big names in the world market, Amrut decided on a bold approach to the introduction of its export whisky: it took it directly to Scotland. " We launched Amrut, India's first indigenously produced single malt whisky, in Glasgow on 24 August 2004," explains executive director Rakshit Jagdale, grandson of the company's founder, Radhakrishna Jagdale. " Since then we have expanded our sales into the whole of western Europe. Most of the EU states import our product." There are currently six whiskies in the single malt range, including two cask strength and two peated versions, and these retail on the European market for anything between £ 26 and £ 39 a bottle. One of the six has also been awarded the