Irish beverage firms line up series of launches in India (With Images)

March 18th, 2009 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Riding on the success of the Bailey’s cream liqueur, Irish companies have lined up the launch of a wide range of whiskeys, stouts and liquors in the Indian market this year to give discerning consumers a taste of their brewing and distilling expertise that dates back 5,000 years.

Carolans, a relatively new brand of cream liqueur, Tullamore Dew, among the fastest-growing blended whiskey brands in Ireland, Wild Geese, a brand of whiskey named after Irish soldiers, and Connemara, the country’s lone single malt peated pot, are among various brands set to make their way into the Indian market.

Beverage experts from Ireland, here as part of the celebrations at the embassy to mark St Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of the European country, said the Irish double-cream high fat milk was also best suited for Indian sweets.

This variety of milk worked particularly well for making “kheer”, “payasam” and other milk-based sweetmeats, they said, adding this was the reason why they were also keen to promote their dairy products, especially cream and cheese, in India, along with their beverages.

“In 2001, Irish beverage and food exports to Asia stood at 400 million Euros. Since then, it has doubled, thanks to India,” said Ronan Gillespie, a senior official with Next Step International, a US consulting firm that is promoting Ireland in India.

“Ireland now sees India as the key market for liquors and dairy products. We are working closely with the Embassy of Ireland in India to promote awareness about Irish food and drinks,” Gillespie told IANS here.

He said the strategy was part of thrust given by the Irish food board, Board Bia, that had identified the four BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as potential markets in 2009.

“In 2008, exports to India stood at 20 million Euros. We are introducing three new Irish beverage brands to the Indian market this year,” Gillespie said.

Tullamore Dew, one of the fastest growing blended whiskey brands in Ireland, will be launched in India later this year. Brewed in the Midleton distilleries in the southern coast of Ireland, it sells six million cases worldwide.

The whiskey was first distilled in 1829 in a small town of Tullamore, County Offaly in Ireland, but is now produced in Midleton, County Cork.

Wild Geese, a brand of whiskey named after the Irish soldiers, who fought in Spain and France against the British in 1700, will be introduced in India later this year. After Britain defeated the Irish armies, the soldiers fled to France. The exodus was known as the flight of the Wild Geese, Gillespie said.

An independent distillery, Cooley Distillery, located in the Cooley peninsula on the country’s eastern coast, will launch Connemara, the country’s lone single malt peated pot (distilled in copper pots) whiskey in India this year.

These apart, two major Irish liquor brands, Diageo and Pernod Ricard that claim a fair share of the high-end foreign liquor segment in India, have identified much larger sales opportunities for two brands.

These are Jameson, one of the oldest Irish whiskey brands, and Guinness, a vintage brand that is celebrating its 250th birthday in 2009, being founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness in Dublin.

Executives from the Irish beverages industry said they were encouraged by the response for Bailey’s, which has emerged as the largest selling Irish cream brand, available in India since the 1980s.

This liquor, they said, now occupies nearly 50 percent of the imported liqueur market in India, giving a lot of hope for Carolans, a relatively new brand of Irish cream liqueur, which will come to India this year.

According to the government-run Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India is the third largest market for spirits and beer in the world, with demand estimated at 373 million cases.

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