Aparna Batra, CEO, William Grant & Sons India (*)

I’m sitting with Aparna at the William Grant office in Gurgaon, which without doubt is one of the most tastefully done up offices I’ve seen.

One thing you’d like to change about the Indian market:

Not much really! We love the Indian market. It’s a robust whisky drinking market. We hope however like any other company which markets BIO (bottled in origin) products that the regulatory environment becomes easier.

Who do you think sets drinking trends in India?

The consumer. Absolutely. But equally, clever marketers. The consumer today is very strong, and India has a very discerning consumer. If brands are able to adapt to what the consumer is looking for, then it’s a win-win situation.

Aparna Batra

What according to you is the most overrated drinking fad / drink in India at the moment?

I don’t want to speak generally, because one man’s poison is another man’s favourite spirit! But I don’t understand RTD’s in the Indian context. I’m wondering where it will go in India. Personally speaking I’d be interested in seeing where Whisky RTD’s go for example.

What’s the next big thing for India?

I’m continuing to hope that it’s Single Malt. If you see the 2011 CAGR (cumulative annual growth rate) data, then it’s 39% growth.

Which is your favourite beverage brand ad campaign?

I like the new Glenfiddich “Spirit of the Pioneer” campaign. It has intense depth to it. It’s about encouraging people to believe in themselves, and that “one day I will”. Also, it’s not just an ad campaign, it goes on the ground, where we encourage pioneering spirits via bringing them together in interesting events. I believe, there’s “a one day I will” in each of us. I also think the Chivas Brothers Age matters campaign is a very interesting campaign. I’m seeing more reality in advertising, as the consumer can’t be fooled any more.

Which is your favourite Bar in India and why?

My favourite bar for ever is the Polo Lounge at the Hyatt

One fictional character that you’d like to share a drink with?

You’re talking to a Pisces and an avid reader, so at this moment I’m tossing between several of my childhood heroes. Maybe Peter Pan? I wonder what the drink would be though. It might be milk! But I think Peter Pan is also ageless, so it could also be a Hendrick’s cocktail.

If you were stranded alone on a deserted island, what’s the one drink that you’d long for?

Water. I’m an aquaholic. If I’m feeling relaxed and calm, then the Balvenie 21.

* – Aparna Batra is no longer the CEO of William Grant & Sons India.