Indian Whisky: A Burgeoning Newcomer

Indian Whisky is another recent addition to the history of whisky. Its story begins during the British occupation of India in the 1820’s. Scottish Whisky made its way down the the Asiatic country along with the expanding British occupation. Edward Dyer noticed this potential to corner a new market of whisky drinkers and moved to India to establish a distillery. He brought with him all the necessary distillation and brewing equipment from the U.K. This was quite the difficult trek, often times needing to sail up the Ganges and then towed by ox carts to be hauled up the Himalayas.

After all this hard work, India’s first distillery was born. The Kasauli Distillery. This endeavor wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, Dyer was going to make another move. This time to the nearby Solan. An area that Dyer relocated to after discovering its likeness to the Scottish countryside and the abundant source of fresh spring water nearby. In 1835, the move was made and the Solan Brewery was born.

These two companies would be later consolidated with a few others to create the Dyer-Meakin Breweries in 1937. Ultimately, the company would change its name to its current title Mohan Meakin Breweries.

Even though this distillery isn’t the most illustrious or breathtaking, what it accomplished in a short time is.

It created Asia’s first beer brand Lion. Yes, Asia’s First Beer. Not only that, it would produce 37% of al beer circulated throughout India. To put that number into perspective, Bud Light, America’s most popular beer only produces about 14% of the market share in the U.S. in 2018. Lion would remain India’s most popular beer for over a century from the 1840’s to 1960s. Another reigning champ was also produced from Dyer Meakin, Solan No. 1 whisky. Solan No. 1 whisky held the title of best selling Indian Whisky for over century until the 1980’s.

In the modern era, India isn’t the largest producer of whisky in the world, but it sure is the largest consumer. India consumed nearly half of the global whiskey market by volume in 2010. HALF. With just over 1/7 of the world’s population, they consumed half of the global whisky production. It’s safe to say India is in a booming whisky market. The Indian whisky market is definitely something to keep an eye out for. Its consumption alone is a big enough factor to completely alter the path of modern whisky.

Check out our other Whisky History articles here.

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