Blog: Olly WehringIndSpirit 2009 – Day One

Olly Wehring | 30 October 2009

We're approaching the business end of day one of IndSpirit here in Mumbai. The morning session was taken up with an opening speech from the head of Radico Khaitan, Dr Lalit Khaitan, and an overview of the Asia Pacific spirits market from Euromonitor. We've also taken a closer look at the alcobev retail scene in India – a country where, of around 4,000 supermarkets, less than 50 offer alcohol for sale. Why? Here's why.

The first afternoon session saw two state excise commissioners, one from Goa, the other from Bihar, face the country's drinks industry to consider the state of India's wildly fragmented duty systems when it comes to alcohol.

What is frustrating to see is that this conversation – also forumed at last year's event - appears to have barely moved forward. Indeed, in 2008 we had four state commissioners to take to task. What remains clear is that the commissioners are open to the idea of broader harmonisation. The dialogue seems to remain anchored, however, to talking about talking.

Where will we be on this matter in 2010? We live in hope.

Elsewhere at the exhibition, the Mumbai leg of the all-Indian bartending competition grows ever more raucous. Tomorrow sees the final, with contenders from across the country looking to mix - and spin – themselves into Indian bartending immortality.

In the exhibition hall, pride of place goes to United Breweries, which has a Team India Formula One car on display. If I keep asking, hopefully they'll finally relent and let me behind the wheel.

Another one for the album awaits, then.


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