Desi whisky brands plan cork stoppers


You may soon see more indigenous whisky brands use cork as stoppers instead of plastic or aluminium, as Indian companies step up their plans to add value to their offerings in a bid to compete with their global counterparts.

A regular feature in champagne and premium wine bottles, cork stoppers are relatively more expensive than guala closures, the plastic non-refillable stoppers that are used in massmarket spirit bottles to thwart the threat of spurious liquor.

“Cork stoppers with Swarovski crystals could be even 200 times more expensive than guala closures,” said Sanjeev Banga, president of international business at Radico Khaitan, which among other spirits also produces Rampur, an Indian single malt whisky. “Cork adds an aura of mystery and drama to a bottle.”

While Radico Khaitan uses cork to seal its premium offerings, other Indian spirits brands, including Paul John and Amrut also follow the same strategy. “We have seen rejection in international markets for not using cork,” said Thrivikram Nikam, executive director of Karnataka-based Amrut Distilleries. “In such markets, bottles using plastic or aluminium stoppers are perceived as substandard.”

Portugal-headquartered Amorim Group, which is arguably the largest natural cork producer in the world, told TOI that it has witnessed a sharp spike in demand of cork from India. “We have seen 80% growth in demand of cork from India since 2015 for spirits,” said Carlos de Jesus, director of marketing & communications at the Amorim Group. “The growth is 20% for the wine category during the same period. The potential in the world’s largest whisky market is huge. We expect India to be among the top 10 global market for cork stoppers in the next 10 years.”

Industry experts said more companies are willing to come forward to adopt cork as stoppers for their spirits brands. “You will soon see brands, such as Solan Gold from Mohan Meakin Group use cork stoppers,” said Sandeep Arora, director of Spiritual Luxury Living, a company that brings premium spirits brands to India.economictimes