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Royal Stag, Officer's Choice challenge Mallya's empire

Written By Rana G on Friday, December 17, 2010 | 7:24 PM

MUMBAI: French drinks giant Groupe Pernod Ricard's Indian whisky, Royal Stag, rocked away as the first MNC spirits brand to cross 10 million cases in annual sales during 2010, even as Allied Blenders & Distillers' (ABD) Officer's Choice Whisky stormed past McDowell's No.1 Whisky to emerge as the country's second-largest spirits brand during the year.

Industry leader United Spirits Ltd's regular-priced Bagpiper Whisky topped the charts with 16.5 million cases but reported flat growth as the brand lost numbers in key states like Andhra Pradesh.

Beer-to-airline billionaire Vijay Mallya-backed USL has five of the top 10 Indian spirits brands—based on the annual brand-wise numbers reported by their companies. But his spirits empire, which claims nearly 50% share of the domestic consumption, is now faced with hawkish rivals in the form of Pernod Ricard and ABD.

Not surprisingly, in a country with strong affinity to brown spirits, whiskies dominated the list with seven representations.

Officer's Choice Whisky reported the fastest growthit jumped 36% from 11.10 million cases in 2009—in one of the most profitable years for the domestic drinks industry as raw material costs eased considerably.

It could threaten Bagpiper Whisky as the top Indian spirits brand if the momentum continues in 2011.

Nevertheless USL's McDowell's No.1 Whisky (14.3 million), Celebration Rum (13.8 million) and McDowell's No.1 Brandy (11.7 million) occupy the remaining three slots in the top-five list for 2010.

At the sixth place, Royal Stag Whisky is ending the year with the depletion of nearly 10.6 million cases. The brand has reported about 30% year-on-year growth as it jumped from around 8 million cases in the year 2009. Royal Stag, with an average trade price of Rs 353 per quart, battles McDowell No.1 Whisky, which grew at about 6% during the year.
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