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Could Indian whisky replace Scotch in Russia?

Indian company Allied Blenders and Distillers (ABD) has revealed plans to enter the Russian market and take up market share left by Scotch.

According to reports in First Post, ABD, which produces the Officer’s Choice whisky brand, disclosed that Russian vodka manufacturer Alcohol Siberia Group (ASG) will soon become the sole distributor of two of its brands.

In a move that will mark the first time ABD’s brands will be marketed in Russia, the company reported via Kommersant that it is looking to take up market share that has been vacated by Scotch brand owners boycotting Russia.

Historically, whisky exports to Russia have been on the rise, with Russia’s 2021 volume being 61% above the pre-pandemic level, however, the recent invasion of Ukraine and subsequent trade sanctions have meant that this upwards trajectory has threatened to take a nosedive.

Economic sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine are biting hard on the alcohol sector. Many of the global drinks giants have either mothballed operations or are seeking to sell up in Russia and there are now fears that consumers are increasingly at risk from potentially harmful illicit concoctions, but there are ways the market has managed to get around the issues.

In an effort to evade numerous sanctions placed on Russia, its leader Vladimir Putin has set in place parallel imports, otherwise known as the grey market, for certain western products, including numerous popular drinks, including whiskies.

Reports now state that ABD products began last month and will continue until October 2025 and a 0.75 litre bottle of Officer’s Choice Blue whisky will be priced at approximately RUB1,000-RUB1,200 (US$13-US$16), giving Russian consumers more options than to do without their whisky fix.

Additionally, the reports have detailed how ABD’s Sterling Reserve’s whisky’s price is also set to stand at somewhere between RUB1,100-RUB1,500 (US$14-US$20) per bottle, making ABD’s expansion into the market a move that could be fruitful should Russian’s decide to switch to more cost effective and readily-available alternatives.

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