Buddy, let's hit the Scotch at duty-free

Buddy, let's hit the Scotch at duty-free

Indian duty-free shops are now the place to be seen -- buying the best aged malts from Scotland
Delhi Duty Free Services
Johnnie Walker launched XR exclusively at India's largest duty-free retail space at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in 2010.

The most likely spectacle at an Indian duty-free shop nowadays is not elderly European travelers buying sandalwood elephants, but globe-trotting Indian businessmen in sharp suits snapping up single malt as if Scotch were going out of style.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) says India is the fifth largest market for scotch shipments (by volume); consumption in the first six months of 2011 was equivalent to 24.2 million bottles.

With India earmarked as a growing market, Scotch distilleries are launching their new products on India's duty-free circuit.

Liquor major Diageo premiered Johnnie Walker Platinum, an 18-year-old whisky, at Indian duty-free shops a week ago, while Johnnie Walker XR, a 21 year-old whisky, first rolled off the country's travel retail shelves last year.

India was also one of the earliest markets for Johnnie Double Black.

William Grant & Sons lists India as one of the early markets for rolling out their 50-year-old Glenfiddich Single Malt. 

And this week, Beam Inc unveiled the most expensive product from the Teacher's brand portfolio in India -- a whisky matured for at least 25 years.

If liberalized import tariffs in India live up to their potential, the sub continent could soon out-drink upwardly mobile business travelers from Korea, Taiwan and China -- the three other big Asian whisky-drinking countries.