A prohibitively high and complex tax structure is coming in the way of achieving greater potential growth in the premium liquor category in India, Peter Gordon, the chairman of William Grant and Sons Ltd, the family-owned distillery best known for its single malt whisky Glenfiddich, said on Wednesday. “High duties are very prohibitive. It is one of the highest duty regimes in the world,” Gordon told Hindustan Times in an interview.
“It’s a combination not only of scale of duty but also complexity of duty. There are national duty levels and there are regional duty levels. If you are in a tax regime which is 150% and you are in the super premium category, then that necessarily does have a massive effect,” he said.
Gordon is in New Delhi for the auction of the fourth of the 11 bottles of the recently released 55-year-old single malt Scotch whisky — Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve.
He said that there has been a sharp rise in single malt whisky sales in India in recent years.
“We’ve seen robust growth in the standard whisky category in India. People are beginning to understand malts. In India, 80,000 cases of single malt sell, and Glenfiddich has 47% market share,” he claimed.
Over the last four years premium category whisky sales have grown by more than 27% in India and single malt sales grew at 39.9%.
“The domestic and travel retail industry in India is growing very fast,” said Gordon.
Gordon did not divulge revenue or other financial details, but said the closely-held family run company’s plans to ink any tie-up with an Indian firm would critically depend on the domestic duty structure.
“It think it depends very much on the outlook of the relative duty position. We have no detailed discussions going on at the moment,” he said.
The company currently has three brands in India -. Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Hendrick’s gin.
“Going forward, the company will introduce Grants 12YO, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Tullamore Drew in India,” Gordon said.