This week, the Indian whiskey brand Officer’s Choice was deemed to be the highest selling whiskey brand on the planet for the fifth year in a row. They are also the third highest selling spirits brand. All this in a period where they have had to deal with the effect of demonetisation, prohibition in Bihar and the highway ban on bars and alcohol sales across India.
However, there is a slight controversy around the technicalities. While India registers Officer’s Choice and other similar drinks as whiskey, foreign entities do not accept this definition. It all boils down to different methods of distillation; pot-distillation or cylinder-distillation. The former is the accepted method for making whiskey, rum and most spirits, while the latter is largely only used for vodka because it can distill strong liquids.
In India, these distinctions are not as clear as for the rest of the world. The mass producers of liquor back home all prefer to use only cylinder-distillation for all spirits. To make up for the lack of taste, they add flavours – often from molasses – that are reminiscent of whiskey, rum or any other alcohol they want to package.
This process does not make Indian alcohol any more dangerous or objectively bad tasting, but it does raise the hackles of distillers across the planet who take care to follow certain standards; standards that have not existed in the Indian pot-distillation alcohol industry until 2018. Hence, the the Indian government has a special name for these homemade copies of foreign alcohols – Indian Made Foreign Liquors of IMFLs.
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