Looking for a Scotch alternative? Try this Indian single-malt whisky.

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The bottles

Godawan single malt whiskey, Godawan 01 “Rich & Rounded” and Godawan 02 “Fruit & Spice”

The back story

We all know the glories of Scottish single malt whiskies. And some of us have also come to discover the same from Japan. But now, is it time to embrace the Indian equivalent?

Yes, Indian single malts are rising in popularity, both within India and the global market, with many of the higher-end versions finding their way to the U.S. Just consider one research report that says the Indian whisky industry is projected to grow at annual rate of 7.6% in the coming years — increasing from 241.7 million cases in 2022 to 375.1 million by 2028.

It’s also worth noting how some very major players in the spirits world are entering the business. Which brings us to Godawan, an Indian single-malt brand from the global spirits conglomerate Diageo
that was released starting in 2022 and recently became available in the U.S.

Vikram Damodaran, chief innovation officer for Diageo’s India operations, told MarketWatch that what distinguishes Godawan especially is the locally sourced barley used in making the whisky. It “has its own sense of robustness,” he said.

Of course, another distinguishing factor is India’s hot climate and how that affects the aging process. In short, it quickens it, but Damodaran says that has no effect on the quality. It does, however, make for much more loss — what’s called the “angel’s share” — in the cask, but the brand says what’s left is all the more complex.

Damodaran says the brand is being targeted for “well-traveled Indians,” noting that it launched first in Dubai. But obviously, there’s a broader potential for whisky lovers across the globe to try it.

As for the name, it refers to a bird found in the Indian subcontinent that’s celebrated for being among the heaviest flying creates across the world.

What we think about them

These are solidly crafted, reasonably priced whiskies – full of flavor and, yes, reminiscent of Scotch, but having some character all their own. I like the 02 Fruit & Spice, which lives up to its billing. Damodaran says you should pick up raisins and nuts on the palate, but also a “cool finish that reminds you of menthol.”

How to enjoy them

Damodaran says they should be tried neat at first to appreciate their flavorful complexity, but he says there’s nothing wrong with adding a big ice cube to also enjoy them. He also suggests using the 02 Fruit & Spice in a whiskey sour.

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