Real whisky- distilled in India from syrup

IT’S distilled in India from syrup, but an American court reckons it is OK to call it whisky.

Manufacturers of the drink have fought and won a battle in the US courts to have its product named whisky in the Scottish tradition.

However, European courts - backed by the Scotch Whisky Association - still insist that the molasses-based liquors are called "distilled spirits" on this side of the Atlantic.

Now Indian company Shaw Wallace is planning to target European drinkers by distilling and bottling its own brand of whisky on Scottish soil.

Shaw Wallace is negotiating with leading Scottish producers Kyndal to bring out an Indian brand of Scotch alongside Kyndal’s well-known Whyte & Mackay and Isle of Jura.

Shaw Wallace Distilleries director Amar Sinha said: "We are planning to distil and bottle our popular Royal Challenge brand with Kyndal in Scotland.

"It will be made from grain and sold as a proper Scotch whisky across the Middle East and Europe, including Scotland. The production process should begin in the next four weeks."

Brian Megson, chairman and chief executive of Kyndal, confirmed the two companies were in negotiation. "Mr Sinha is coming over this Thursday and we will be discussing the matter then," he said. "Nothing has been decided as yet."

If the new deal is clinched, the Indian company plans to make use of Kyndal’s plants to launch another two own-label products, which will also be marketed as Scotch whisky.

Other Scottish whisky producers are likely to be less enthusiastic about Shaw Wallace getting a foothold in the industry. The company proved its credentials as a ruthless and formidable competitor by winning the US battle to name its molasses-based Director’s Special a ‘whisky’ against the might of the SWA.

Andrew Gray, sales director of Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, said Shaw Wallace’s move into Scotland was further evidence of overseas companies wanting to muscle in on the insatiable worldwide demand for Scotch.

" We do not see them as direct competitors to our product, which is a single malt, although I’m sure there are companies who may see it that way," Gray said.

A spokeswoman for the SWA said she was "relaxed" about the move, provided the whisky was made in Scotland.