September 2, 2021
India boasts a boggling array of regional, homegrown alcohols — from Himachal Pradesh’s apple liqueur, Goan coconut and cashew feni, and Manipuri atingba to Sikkimese chhang, Rajasthan’s liqueurs, and mahua made by Adivasi communities. This list represents a mere fraction of India’s diverse liquors, vital to the communities, geographies, and cultures that birthed them.
Yet, the largest segment of India’s alcohol industry isn’t these indigenous liquors, but Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), namely whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka, and the like — liquors that originate abroad, but are manufactured in India. India is one of the fastest-growing alcohol markets globally, but regional liquors are losing out to IMFL, wine, and beer. So for a country with so many liquors, why does its superb feni or chhang remain mostly unknown outside India?