IANS Interview: Whisky pioneer Paul John wants palate revolution for Indian consumers

Mumbai, Jun 13 (IANS): Whisky pioneer Paul John has called for a significant shift in the liquor-consumption habits of Indians.

The Indian liquor baron, who owns the multiple award-winning John Distilleries, feels that as a country with a varied profile of liquor, we need to develop a palate for finer notes when it comes to liquor.

In an interview with IANS, John said that so far, the Indian liquor industry has been just selling rum to the consumers largely, and calling brandy or whiskey as different things.

“This has been happening for 200 years," John said, as he demanded a change in the consumption habits while also pointing at how single-malt is not supposed to be diluted with water, as is the common Indian practice.

“I don't know whether you can blame the Britishers because they introduced the system of Indian-made foreign liquor when they were making all this stuff like foreign liquor, but it was all completely Indian-made," he said.

“My challenge is to convert the Indian consumers' palette from rum to single-malt. Then I don't need to promote the brand Paul John Whisky as such, I just need to make the consumers develop an evolved sense of taste towards the flavour notes and the profile. If the consumer gets that right, my job is done,” he told IANS.

“The Indian consumer needs to be served with higher-end liquor with a sense of flavour, the character of the liquid. Ideally, it should be had with either no water or very less water,” he added.

India is a large country producing a substantial quantity of molasses. The liquor made from molasses is then given different names after adding colour to it.

“I think it's only in the last seven or eight years that the government has promoted a lot of grain-based distilleries where we have started making alcohol from different types of grains," John said, signalling at a paradigm shift at the cusp.

Recently, the Malhar Citrus Indian Craft Gin from John Distilleries Ltd (JDL) was awarded the gold medal, while the Malhar Classic Dry Indian Craft Gin bagged the bronze medal at the 2024 San Francisco World Spirits Competition in the US.

When asked what’s the biggest challenge for his world-class liquors, John pointed out the arduous logistics process which easily takes 5-6 months for a bottle to land up at the stores abroad before it leaves the inventory in India.

John, who expects some logistical help from the authorities, said, “I would be happy if they could make it a lot easier. The shipping time takes almost three to six months before we can get a product into a retail shop in any particular country."

He then quoted an example of the Christmas edition, which is a limited number of bottles for the whole world.

“We start planning from February or March itself for the year. And then by April or May, we have to get it shipped out so that it reaches at least by October. I think this is an area where I would like to see some positive changes," the whisky pioneer told IANS.



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Title: IANS Interview: Whisky pioneer Paul John wants palate revolution for Indian consumers

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