The importance of lowering barriers to entry to the Indian whisky market has never been more important. The huge population, growing disposable income and increasing social acceptability of drinking alcohol is turning India into the largest consumer of spirits in the world. India is set to take over from Russia in 2013 if the trend continues in its current vain. Last year the IWSR forecast that Indians would consume between 190-200 million cases of whisky over the next 5 years. This is more than the brandy, vodka, rum put together.
However the duty on imports of scotch whisky are amongst the highest in the world and the tax structure is complex with national and regional taxes on whisky. This means tax on whisky can be as high as 150%. The Scottish Whisky Association have been fighting this battle for some time but the politics in such a vast country are complex and they are in effect using protectionist tactics to protect their own whisky producers of which there are many.
However as the emerging middle classes learn about the quality of Scottish single malt scotch whisky there is an increasing demand. Glenfiddich is said to have already claimed a massive 47% share of the single malt market in India and premium whisky sales continue to grow at a rate as high as 40%. Although the larger operators such as Diageo are able to enter these markets it is still impossible for internet retailers such as the Scottish Whisky Store to enter the market and delivery within the country is still difficult to guarantee due to poor infrastructure and issues at customs. We hope this will change in years to come.