India Drinks Way More Whiskey Than Anyone Else

When told to list the most whiskey-lovin' countries in the world, you probably think of the UK, the US, and Japan. But it turns out the Indians are far outdrinking us all when it comes to the smoky stuff.

Hilary Pollack

Hilary Pollack

Photo via Flickr user paradisecircus

In the US, we take our love of whiskey pretty seriously. Bourbon may be from Kentucky, but our whole country is bourbon country, feel us? It's pretty fair to assume that Jack and Cokes are equally ubiquitous in Seattle, Kansas City, and Miami. We all love our whiskey.

Then lend a moment of thought (or pour out a touch of Grant's) to Scotland, home to the smoky booze and indisputable hub of consumption of said stuff. Scotch, after all, is a £5 billion industry for them (as well as an all-encompassing drinking tradition). You could almost say that Scotland wouldn't be itself without plenty of Scotch to fuel it, both culturally and economically.

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And then there's Japan and its own masterful incarnations of whiskey. Yamazaki Single Malt 12 year, you are incomparable. Intoxicating. Irreplaceable. Japan took home the top honor of number-one whisky in the world late last year, and there's been loads of chatter in the past few years about Japan's whiskey industry actually overshadowing that of Scotland's—if such a thing could be considered possible. (And many people think it is.)

So when it comes down to it, in this grand whisk(e)y rat race, which country actually drinks the most of the stuff? Is it the party-animal Americans? The good ol' Scots and their friends in England? Or perhaps the Japanese, with their growing recognition in the scene?

Turns out, none of the above. Not even close.

According to a new report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the country that's guzzling the most whiskey in the world is … India.

Yup, while we 'Mericans drank a mere 462 million liters of whiskey, Indians totally blew us out of the water by sipping down a staggering 1.5 billion liters, leaving any competition fully in the dust. (That's about half of the world's whiskey, in total.) And the UK, with all of its pomp and Scotch, wasn't even in the top four whiskey-consuming countries: France and Japan both trumped it, by getting faded off 140 million liters and 109 million liters respectively.

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When you do the math, that's more than a liter of whiskey per Indian person per year. And there are a hell of a lot of people in India: a little over 1.2 billion. In terms of per-capita consumption, France, Uruguay, the US, Australia, Spain, the UK, Ireland, and even the United Arab Emirates all beat out India. (The French, for example, drink an average of more than two liters per person per year, and Americans drink nearly one and a half.)

Still, kind of a shocker? Yeah, we'd say so. But with a population that big, you might say that they had a leg up (as well as plenty of their own producers … ever had 8 PM, Blender's Pride, or Bagpiper?). Indian whiskey brand Officer's Choice is actually the world's most popular whiskey brand across all subcategories when it comes to numbers, despite the fact that you may never have even heard of it. Guess we're stuck in a bubble with our Johnnie Walker and Jameson.

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We've been meaning to branch out from always drinking beer with our Indian food, anyway. Maybe this is a good excuse to try a whiskey sour with our saag paneer next time around.

And as for the runners-up in the game—guess we'll just have to try harder next time. We've got to give credit where credit's due when it comes to being a true whiskey-drinker.