United Spirits to launch India’s first flavoured whiskey

United Spirits is preparing to launch India’s first flavoured whiskey, its first new product release since Diageo acquired it in 2014.

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Silk, a honey-flavoured whisky that will fall under United Spirits’ McDowell’s portfolio, is intended to appeal to beer drinkers who don’t necessarily enjoy whiskey.

Speaking to India’s Economic Times Amrit Thomas, chief marketing officer at United Spirits, said: “A significant portion of beer drinkers actually never embrace whiskey, because they found the whisky taste to be unpalatable.

“These consumers like the sophistication of whiskey, but they find the taste to be either strong or harsh and never embrace whiskey as a drink for those lighter social occasions.”

McDowell’s was launched in 1968 and is a blend of imported scotch and Indian malt whiskies. Its new Silk honey-flavoured variant is expected to hit markets early next year, with Diageo securing the trademark in February. 

Flavoured whiskies have gained significant market share in recent years, with honey and cinnamon variants popular with younger drinkers.

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Previously, Diageo has launched a three-strong range of sweet pie flavoured Canadian whiskey liqueurs in the US. The brand, Piehole, is available as an apple pie, cherry pie and pecan pie flavours.

Jack Daniel’s meanwhile has achieved success with its Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey.

However while Bourbon, American, Canadian and Irish whisky brands have been keen to jump on the bandwagon, Scotch producers have been more tentative in their approach to flavoured variants. Those that have dared to add a twist have invariably faced a backlash.

Guidelines by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and EU law state no other ingredients except caramel colouring and water can be added to Scotch whisky.

However the SWA has said that if the flavoured bottling is differentiated from Scotch, and instead labelled as a “spirit drink”, no rules have been breached. Examples include Dewar’s Highlander Honey, Ballantine’s lime-flavoured Brasil and J&B’s Urban Honey.

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