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With cricket legend Viv Richards as its brand ambassador, Varchas Whiskey makes India debut

The brand is a tribute to Varchasvi Shankar’s Indian and American roots, and combines the best of both worlds, emulating notes of the east and west in a straight, premium bottled whiskey.

With cricket legend Viv Richards as its brand ambassador, Varchas Whiskey makes India debut

Saturday November 18, 2023,

3 min Read

Varchasvi Shankar often describes his life as being the best of both worlds. A Mysuru boy, he grew up in India and eventually moved to the US for his masters.

Along the way, he developed an affinity for whiskeys and wines—which eventually led him to start Varchas Whiskey around 2022, a line of Bourbons and Whiskeys, which carry an Indian flair.

“The way I see it, I’m making a bourbon, which can only be made in America with an Indian name on it,” Varchasvi Shankar, Founder of Varchas Whiskey, tells YS Life. “I’m not shy or scared to take my Indian heritage abroad or elsewhere.”

Varchas straight rye

The Varchas Straight Rye by Shankar Distilleries. (Photo credits- Varchas)

The union of the East and the West, as Shankar puts it, is very evident right from the distillery in the United States where it is made. There is a mural of Mysuru Palace alongside a portrait of old Michigan—an homage to the town where it is made.

Along the way, Shankar noticed that the Indian drinking scene was lacking in some options when it came to bourbon. “I realised there is a big opportunity for Bourbon in the country [India], because I only noticed two brands here—Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. That’s when I happened to get in touch with a couple of my buddies over a game of golf and said yeah, let’s do it,” says Shankar.

YS Life had a peak into the Varchas collection.

Up first was the most recent launch in India—the Detroit Reserve, a blended bourbon dry malt and light whiskey. The whiskey’s body carries an effervescent sweet texture, brought on by the distillation process, making it a perfect pairing for cocktails.

It is also what the brand is calling the more accessible part of its line—as it would be priced at the lowest—making it a perfect addition to a home bar or otherwise.

It is also bringing along the Straight Bourbon and Straight Rye Whiskey—the punchier versions of the Reserve spirit, owing to the aging process, which lends it more earthy notes and a tougher mouthfeel on the palette.

When it was time to pick a brand ambassador for his spirits, Shankar recalls his meeting with West Indian cricketing legend Sir Viv Richards at a party to celebrate 50 years of Sunil Gavaskar’s cricket test debut.  

“I recently spoke with him and said, I think you would make the ideal brand ambassador… because he is straightforward, honest, and believed in giving back to the community,” says Shankar.

Ultimately though, Varchas Whiskey can stake its claim as the first Indian craft bourbon to hit the market. “We are slowly starting to take off…We’ve definitely got a long way to go, especially because we are a small brand competing against the big boys. But I believe we have some great products, and with the communities support [both in India and the US], we’re ready to give this a shot,” says Shankar.

Varchas Whiskey is available for purchase  in Bengaluru and Goa. In Bengaluru, the VARCHAS Straight BOURBON costs Rs 9,635 and the Varchas Straight Rye costs Rs 9,902. In Goa, Varchas Straight Bourbon is Rs 8,500 and the Varchas Straight Rye costs Rs 8,500.

Edited by Megha Reddy