Marketing director Vinay Joshi tells stories about the lure of white liquor consumers to flavored whiskey, accusing the British of ruining whiskey knowledge in India, and why “JD” is Tennessee whiskey and not Bourbon.

Growing up, few brands have always succeeded in creating in me an inexplicable lust for them. A Zippo lighter, a Marlboro cigarette, an Omega watch, the complete works of Tintin and Asterix, the oval headlights of a Mercedes, a Sony boombox, they were the torchbearers of my childhood zeitgeist fed on copies hackneyed foreign magazines. and TV shows that I was not allowed to watch. Cold halves, inaccessible halves.

One of those brands was Jack Daniel’s. During my childhood I recognized him as “JD” and had no idea what was inside this eye-catching square bottle. Today, I love and love all those years ago, not only for the bottle, but also for the sweet Tennessee whiskey it contains.

Founded in 1866 in Lynchburg, Tennessee in the United States, Jack Daniel’s is known for its whiskey and even today every bottle is made in the same place.

The most famous of its products is Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 which qualifies as a Bourbon; a premium form of whiskey made only in the United States, primarily from corn and must be stored in charred oak barrels, among other qualifiers.

The baptism of ‘No.7’ is a mystery. Jack, the founder, never revealed why he chose 7. Conspiracy theories range from the seven women in Jack’s life to his belief in the superstition of having perfected alcohol on his seventh attempt.

But, the makers of this drink would rather you call it Tennessee Whiskey rather than Bourbon. Why? Because “we filter our Tennessee whiskey through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal before aging it … Called the Lincoln County Process, this is what gives it its unique taste as it removes all of the moisture. bitterness that whiskey gets during the distillation process. Tennessee whiskey is a plus on bourbon, ”notes Vinay Joshi who heads marketing for Brown-Forman (Jack’s parent company) for the Indian subcontinent and the Maldives.

The drink, over the course of the century, has aroused an unrivaled cult. What other brand can count Frank Sinatra and Keith Richards as regular consumers? It’s no wonder that the Jack Daniel’s have become a super cool and kind of rebel to many young children.

Jack Daniel’s has sunk in the hearts of countless citizens of the world and India is no different. It came to life in India. Joshi says the country is the whiskey capital of the world and “over 50% of the whiskey volume is in India. It is important in terms of volume and will catch up in terms of value. He explains that this is due to the vast volumes of inexpensive whiskey consumed here and that same volume attracts global and local businesses.

While Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 drink has legends in its ranks, who rushed for the square bottle in India? They cannot be students or young workers because the brand is premium and few people can easily afford it.

“Jack Daniel’s is a brand that is served in good establishments as well as in questionable joints,” Joshi quotes from one of the brand’s popular global campaigns and uses the statement to explain that the drink finds drinkers from “bankers to. bikers “. The brand is aimed at all those who want to enjoy a premium whiskey of good quality, remarks the marketing manager.

However, he gives in and reveals that “the consumer is anyone over the legal drinking age and up to 40-45 years old and we define them internally as independent spirits of the next generation”; people who relate to the core values ​​of independence and authenticity of Jack Daniel.

And speaking of people, I gave him a stereotype of Tennessee whiskey consumers mostly from Punjab or northern India. He refused to sip. Over the past couple of years, the brand has seen healthy growth in Tier 2 markets like Poona or Nagpur as well as Indian metropolitan cities and not just a single state or region.

The poison of India is excessive whiskey. The country drinks the drink more than anyone else in the world, but unfortunately it is not too familiar with the diverse world of whiskey. For example, most drinkers’ knowledge of whiskey is limited to Scotch whiskey. Then there is also the fact that you can write whiskey or whiskey (the US prefers the latter). Jack Daniel’s despite his popularity had to deal with this problem.

Joshi blames the British who brought Scotch whiskey (whiskey distilled in Scotland) to India and despite Jack Daniel’s gigantic popularity and his over 50% share in Western markets, “awareness levels of our whiskey are low” .

Jack Daniel’s has invested a lot of effort, through activities and initiatives, to educate professionals (bartenders and F&B staff) about its offerings, its history, which makes it special because these people help influence the choice of a consumer. “We had reduced (brand building) over the past two years because of Covid,” he reveals.

This is not all bad news. The B2B channel is back, he notes, and “we’ve seen good footfall, numbers, across cities since the restrictions were lifted. And in some of the outlets, the feedback we have received is that they are doing more than pre-Covid level business. “

What I found surprising was the diversification of Jack Daniel into flavored whiskey. Yes, the brand offers Tennessee Honey, Tennessee Fire and Tennessee Apple being the new flavor of the city. I wondered if the flavors were nothing more than a carrot to hang in front of young drinkers to draw them into the whiskey.

It’s for anyone who wants to try something different Joshi says and remarks, “It makes Jack Daniel’s more accessible as a brand for people who don’t drink whiskey; they are consumers of white spirits or people who do not have the palate for the strong taste of whiskey.

If you thought these flavors were a hit, you haven’t come across Jack Daniel’s best-selling item after Old No. 7 — T-shirts. “Globally, the second biggest SKU for us after Old No. 7 whiskey is a Jack Daniel’s t-shirt,” Joshi explains and reveals how some people tattoo the mark on their bodies as well.

I assumed that Jack Daniel’s was selling their merchandise online to keep the brand memory fresh in the minds of minors who, once of legal drinking age, might try to rush to the brand. It turns out that it was a decision to attract attention and “an additional source of income for the brand.”

And speaking of eye-catching, there’s not much in the way of marketing or brand communication unless you have an international advertisement for Jack Daniel’s on Spotify. Where does the Indian brand spend its media funds? On GQ broadcasts or social networks. It is the latter.

“A good chunk of our money goes into digital and social media and that’s where we educate consumers,” Joshi explains and gives us an interesting insight into in-store advertising. In the world of alcoholic beverages, stories are media space in themselves. “In our categories, there are approximately 20,000 stores including 10,000 stores relevant to a brand like Jack Daniel’s… you can communicate, advertise and interact with consumers without any restrictions.”

Secret Origins, Chief Poison and one of the world’s leading t-shirt vendors, Jack Daniel’s is a hypnotic brand and has come of age in India at the right time when people want to get their lives back on track with some zest. .