Indian Spirits Will Give Jane Walker a Run for its Money

Because, you are on the wrong side of the feminist movement.

Jahnabee Borah

Back in the day, before the advent of mobile phones, drinking rum and coke was a rite of passage for boys and girls stepping into adulthood. Now, adulting also includes having a home bar with rum, coke and a bottle of Johnnie Walker whiskey or scotch; a popular choice due to its easy availability and an affluent status tag.

Will stocking aforementioned bar with Diego’s latest offering for International Women’s Day, Jane Walker make a difference? To add to the collection perhaps, but if Diego believes that one would buy into Jane Walker’s branding stance ‘celebrate progress in Women’s Right’, it is akin to saying we are too drunk to know better. The only change is the tweak in the label, with the marching woman in a Tuxedo replacing her male counterpart. Diego claims that this is a limited-edition collection with 2.5 lac units, and for every Jane Walker bottle that’s produced, they will donate $1 to organisations that support women’s causes. We are willing to wait, watch and come back with a report if the brand lives up to this promise.

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However, if the brand believes that women, purely in the Indian context, do not prefer whiskey, it definitely needs a reality check. “At our cigar events, women in saris are casually smoking with a whiskey glass in hand,” says Mumbai-based sommelier and wine educator Nikhil Agarwal.  He goes on to add, “Women are curious and the information that is passed around by women who attend these events, leads me to believe that they are sampling alcohol in a manner that did not happen earlier.”

The same holds true for beer. When we reached out to Mukesh Tolani, Co-Founder of Bengaluru’s popular Toit brewery to find out if they have crafted a beer to target women, his response was, “Interesting question. We have never felt the need to do so, because we find that there are an equal number of boys and girls crowding the bar area with their beer orders.” 

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Nikhil dives deeper to reveal that in the beer category, the wheat version is a clear winner among girls for its slightly fruity taste making it ‘friendlier’ to consume. Add the Toit quote about how wheat is a winner across men and women. Fun fact: One of the earliest evidences of beer brewing dates back to 1800 BC when the Sumerian civilization thrived in Mesopotamia--archeologists have unearthed the ‘Hymn to Ninkasi’ - a tribute to the Sumerian Goddess of beer, that includes an ancient recipe of beer brewed by female priestesses. 

Indian women are leaving no glass empty. Exactly a year ago, the India Wine Insider report released in Mumbai revealed some interesting insights. Here’s one: Indian women are spending slightly more than men, on a bottle of wine. According to the report that was named “the first-ever comprehensive survey of the urban Indian wine consumer” by the Economic Times, a growing number of Indian wines and it was about time that a comprehensive survey was conducted among consumers to benefit of this young industry. There were no surprises when the report indicated the number of women consumers are an important market segment. However, it pointed out that not only are women shedding their inhibitions related to alcohol consumption, but they spend slightly more than men on a bottle of wine.

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“There is an increase in the number of women sipping on a glass of wine in the afternoon. Interesting, because it is an act of enjoying and appreciating wine, rather than getting tipsy. There is a growing number of women in Tier 2 cities who are as uninhibited about alcohol consumption as their urban counterparts, and wine is their drink of choice,” shares Nikhil.   

From Old Monk to Sula and Bira, there is no denying that Indian spirits and wines have a cult following. To honour the contribution of the leaders in this segment, Living Foodz has introduced a category in their annual award platform, Living Foodz Epicurean Guild Awards. 

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Whether Jane Walker will impress Indian women and leave a mark in the current scenario, only time, social media and future home bars will tell.

Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Image editing: Vartika Pahuja 


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