Why Indians Prefer Whiskey, Vodka & Rum? Experts Share Insights With Nikhil Kamath

The country's consumption patterns indicate a pronounced preference for these spirits

by Tejashee Kashyap
Why Indians Prefer Whiskey, Vodka & Rum? Experts Share Insights With Nikhil Kamath

India’s fascination with hard liquor, particularly whiskey, vodka, and rum, is a noteworthy phenomenon in the global alcohol market. The country’s consumption patterns indicate a pronounced preference for these spirits. Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of Zerodha and a keen observer of market trends, has engaged with alcohol industry experts to understand the underlying factors in his recent podcast episode.

India’s Love Affair With Hard Liquor

In the most recent episode of his ‘WTF is’ podcast, “WTF, Alcohol is a $70B Business in India?” Nikhil Kamath spoke with several prominent figures in the field, including Suraj Shenai, the founder of Goa Brewing Co., Shuchir Suri, the co-founder of Gin Explorer’s Club, Minakshi Singh, the co-founder of SideCar, the only entry from India on the World’s Best Bars list, and Abhishek Khaitan, MD of Radico Khaitan.

The only nation in the tropical belt where beer and hard liquor consumption are equal is India. Given the climate, they noted, beer is consumed far more frequently in nations like Vietnam than hard liquor. There is a tendency among Indian consumers to prefer spirits that provide a quicker and more intense effect. For the money they spend on drinks, the majority of Indian drinkers would rather become high more quickly. The economic considerations of affordability and availability play a significant role in driving consumer choices. With disposable incomes rising, more consumers can afford premium variants of these spirits, further boosting their popularity.

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Value For Money Factor?


Nikhil Kamath’s conversations with industry experts reveal several key insights into why Indians prefer hard liquor. One primary reason is the perceived value of money. Hard liquors like whiskey, vodka, and rum are often seen as offering more bang for the buck compared to beer or wine. The higher alcohol content means that a smaller quantity can suffice, making it a cost-effective option for consumers.

According to Suri, the country liquor drinking class primarily consumes alcohol due to cost considerations and a desire to become high as cheaply as possible. The proportion of alcohol in these is between 26 and 42%. Their lives are so difficult that they would like to get away from it.

The low ABV of country booze makes it taste delicious, according to Suri. A tharra would have about 28% ABV, whereas a typical whiskey would have about 42% ABV, so you can drink it straight instead of a whiskey that requires mixers. According to him, country liquor also features regional flavours like orange and saunf.

As India continues to grow and evolve, so too will its drinking preferences.

Cover image credits: Canva