The budget Scotch whisky segment is one of the most hard-fought battlegrounds in the Indian market, and there are a number of brands trying to assert their dominance over the others. Among the many brands that compete fiercely with each other, it is 100 Pipers Deluxe, Black Dog Black Reserve and Teacher’s Highland Cream that have been the most popular in recent times.
Of course there are others such as J&B Rare Blended, VAT 69 and Black & White that enjoy a considerable influence in the segment. Although, their glory days appear to be behind them for now.
The Whiskypedia pits the three heavyweights of the blended Scotch whisky category today, comparing 100 Pipers Deluxe, Black Dog Black Reserve and Teacher’s Highland Cream for the quality of their blends, their taste and how pocket-friendly they are for the Indian whisky lover! Let’s see who wins the battle of the budget blended Scotch.
For a blended Scotch whisky, this is where it all begins. The quality of the source whiskies truly determine the character and the potential of a blended Scotch, which is a combination of single malt, and single grain whiskies blended together to create something magnificent.
The 100 Pipers blend is built around the extraordinary Allt a’Bhainne single malt, a delightful balance between sweet and spicy. There are more malt and grain whiskies that make up the 100 Pipers Deluxe blend, but you never quite see the influence of the Allt a’Bhainne single malt wear off.
Black Dog, another growing player in the blended Scotch segment in India sadly has divulged no information regarding the source whiskies that make up the Black Dog blend. The company website claims the Black Dog Black Reserve blend is made up ’25 fine whiskies that create a bouquet of all the flavours of Scotland’, although there is no way to verify the authenticity of this claim.
When it comes to our third challenger, Teacher’s Highland Cream, it was once the highest selling blended Scotch whisky in India before it was dethroned by none other than 100 Pipers. Nevertheless, there are few brands that still are as good as Teacher’s Highland Cream although the brand has suffered a few setbacks in India, one of their key markets worldwide.
The Teacher’s Highland Cream blend is built around the fully smoked Ardmore single malt. Around 25-30 whiskies make up the blend for this Teacher’s expression, of which malt whiskies amount to a 45% ratio, with the rest made up by grain whiskies.
Now that we have gained an understanding on what makes up our favourite blended Scotch whiskies, let us move to the next and perhaps the most important aspect of what makes a good blended Scotch, great!
All right so let’s get down to brass tacks as some whisky lovers would put it. For a lot of people, what goes into the whisky, the age or the contents don’t necessarily matter except for great taste. So which of our three contenders win this category hands down?
Our first contender is 100 Pipers Deluxe blended Scotch which resonates extremely well with the Indian whisky drinkers’ palate. An aromatic blend with generous amounts of fruit, and a touch of peaty smoke and toasted oak barrels deliver the perfect combination.
The 100 Pipers flavours are as equally captivating as the aroma, with rich fruity flavours greeting you immediately, followed by a mesmerizing balance of sweet honey and creamy vanilla. The intense fruit, soft smoke and incredible smoothness can be credited to the Allt a’Bhainne single malt that we mentioned earlier. A delicious blend that delivers what it promises with every single drop.
Next up is our second contender, the Black Dog Black Reserve, which has often been cited as a smooth blend, which are said to make up for its lack of rich flavours. On the nose, the Black Dog Black Reserve gives off whiffs of burnt caramel and vanilla, courtesy to the maturation in ex-Bourbon barrels. There are subtle hints of spice and leather, although the smoky caramel definitely overpowers everything else.
The Black Dog Black Reserve brings forth some hints of a fruity character, and even carries some sweetness intermingled with that distinct smokiness. The finish is slightly spicy, and quite warming, and wears off slowly. We feel the Black Dog Black Reserve could have done much better, and thought it had far more potential as it seems to be gaining some traction in India.
Let us move on to our third brand, the Teacher’s Highland Cream, which as you must expect, is intensely smoky from the get go. Let us delve deeper into the aromas and flavours of this whisky to understand it better, and learn why it used to be immensely popular and what led to Teacher’s being knocked off its perch over time.
Smoke and honey mingle together on the nose with a generous helping of fruit, and on the palate, you will be greeted by some more sweetness, smoke and spice. A delicate finish, although it could have been richer and we would not have complained. It is true that this Teacher’s expression may not have changed at all, but the Indian whisky enthusiasts’ preferences sure have.
When it comes to the taste test, The Whiskypedia considers the 100 Pipers Deluxe blended Scotch always prevails over its competitors. This Scotch has towered over the others for quite some time, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
It is no secret that India is a price-sensitive market, and for many years, this led to distillers and other brands persevere in order to drive the costs down. They resorted to blending imported Scotch malts with Indian grain whisky, or even turning to neutral spirit distilled from molasses.
With Blended Scotch whisky, there cannot be any such methods to bring down the prices. Which is why Scotch whiskies have nearly always been deemed to be of superior quality by the whisky enthusiasts back in India, and in many parts of the world.
Technically, pricing among all three of the brands has virtually no disparity, and all of them fall under the same price bracket. Which brings us to the question – Which blended Scotch whisky brand does the most business in India?
Sales figures are a very satisfactory benchmark in order to determine how well a particular brand is doing in a specific market; especially when comparing brands that belong to the same segment such as 100 Pipers Deluxe, Black Dog Black Reserve and Teacher’s Highland Cream.
100 Pipers definitely has an edge over any of its competitors when it comes to sales figures. In fact, it was 100 Pipers Deluxe blended Scotch whisky that was the first Scotch brand to create history in India by selling more than 1 million 9-litre-cases of their product in a single year!
No other brand has managed to register numbers as astonishing as this one. The Indian whisky appetite is virtually satisfied by product distilled in India itself. Not more than three years ago, LiveMint estimated that nearly 98.24% (189.7million 9-litre cases) of the total whisky consumed in the country was Indian whisky itself.
This puts 100 Pipers dominance of the blended Scotch whisky category into perspective, and explains just how well their Scotch whisky resonates with every Indian Scotch lover.
Whisky Under Rs 3000 in India
Whisky Under 2000