A lot more play beyond cartoon in Back-to-School licensing
A lot more play beyond cartoon in Back-to-School licensing

Touted as the second most revenue generation season globally, after Christmas, Back-to-School (BTS) category is gradually witnessing a surge in its share of the market portion, especially when kids have greater influence on the purchasing decisions of their parents.

“BTS, including stationery, bags etc is one of the most lucrative categories in India along with apparels and toys for any licensor,” said Anand Singh, Director, Turner International, South Asia.

“Gone are the times when kids used to have just one school bag. Now with growth in spending capacity of parents, most children have 2-3 bags, which indeed, is a welcoming change,” says Bansari Manik, Head – Business Development, Genius LeatherCrafts who are the official licensees for Pampered Girls school bags.

The number of licensees actively operating the market could be the reason behind this boost, other than the exposure to international properties like Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, Oxford University and the consumer’s inclination towards brands and licensed products.

Emphasising on the growing demand, Samir Virani, Founder, It’s Our Studio, says: “Parents are being more open to the options and are letting their kids to be a part of purchase related decisions. Moreover, the penchant towards characters has resulted in multiplying the demand by almost five times.”

“In recent times, everything is so much on the face that the child is well aware of all the characters. Further, the craze to own character inspired merchandise has boosted up to a level where limited edition merchandise is a big go,” adds Virani.

Unlocking the opportunities

While BTS spans across a varied array of products globally; in India, it is restricted to the basic utility products, of which bags have the maximum wallet share and stationery has most of the market share. Moreover, the shrinking age group is also modifying the BTS market. The category which was once heavily dominated by cartoon characters now sees football clubs, universities, and diversified properties such as FCB, Oxford, WikiLeaks etc as options.

In the words of Shree Narayan Sabharwal, Business Head, Simba Toys, “The age group is shrinking in BTS category and 10 is the new 12 at present. A 12-year-old student would now prefer Adidas or Puma and Messy, Ronaldo, Sachin Tendulkar etc adorning their backpacks instead of a Spiderman or a Batman.”

Catering to the changing demands of the target group i.e. school kids, the licensees are running over the mill to incorporate changes in terms of designs while sticking to the look and feel of the IP. “The product design is more childlike and soft in case of a 6-year-old girl; while the colour shades are altered, the logos are set in metal and more vibrancy is added to the product while designing it for a 12-year-old girl,” asserts Manik.

A different set of IPs is made available for the slightly older children, driven by their preference. “Oxford is the most impeccable IP that could be ever related to education, reason being the age-old legacy carried by Oxford University. Moreover, the merchandise under this brand addresses the early teens and teenagers looking for a change from the monotony of animated cartoon characters,” opines Hardik Vasa, the director of Vasa International, which is the Master Licensee of Oxford University in India.

Addressing the bottlenecks

The marketing of ‘back to school season’ is challenging because it’s not a defined season with a predefined start or end like Christmas or Diwali, it doesn’t “officially” kick off with great sales and promotional offers and is pretty much over within a fortnight.

Children in year-round schools could need supplies as early as the end of June or beginning of July, and schools on traditional calendars may not start up until September.

“What is selling more in BTS category is a rhetorical question,” says Anvita Prasad, Head – Licensing at Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd. Adding to it, Prasad says that BTS as a category can be fragmented into – seasonal and evergreen. Products like schoolbags, lunchboxes and water bottles are seasonal and a kid can have a maximum of three or four, but products like stationery and school essentials including notebooks, stickers, pencils etc are in demand throughout the year.

Seasonality obviously has a major impact on market performance as bag packs range up to Rs. 4,500 and comprise of a considerable portion of the wallet share, followed by lunch-boxes and water bottles.

Further, counterfeit and piracy is a concern for both the licensee as well as licensor, which is primarily driven by a lack of awareness about licensing in India. Manish Rajoria, Director, Adarsh Publication, who owns Purple Turtle, says, “There are two sets of retailers following false practices in licensing – one who is not at all aware of licensing, and the other, who does it knowingly. The task in case of the first type of retailers is to make them understand that why do they need to pay a handsome amount in the form of royalty to the brand owners.”

Forthcomings

With hundreds of new properties and many more brands entering the market, the competitive landscape for licensed products continues to intensify, not only for new consumers, but also for the much-coveted shelf space at retailers and perhaps more so online.

To tap on this kids oriented market, the retailers are not only expanding their selection, but are also working on strategies like dropping prices on key school supplies to lure the audiences while forming new alliances; for instance, CNE inking pact with direct seller Tupperware and Genius LeatherCrafts adding Pampered Girls in its kitty for school bags.

Now when schools are opting for customised bags carrying school logos, it is the notebooks with superheroes or animated characters imprinted on them where the retailers have their eyes laid on. While Ben 10, and the like are the eternal IPs in this category; Despicable Me (Minions!), Frozen and IPs inspired from games like Angry Birds are the new entrants.

 
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11 Must-Have Whiskies Under Rs 10,000 to Elevate Your Collection
11 Must-Have Whiskies Under Rs 10,000 to Elevate Your Collection
 

Whisky, with its rich heritage and complex flavors, has long held a revered place in the hearts of connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. Whether it’s a smooth single malt savored in a quiet moment of reflection or a bold blend enjoyed in lively gatherings, whisky has a unique way of marking moments and creating memories.

In recent years, the appreciation for this storied spirit has seen a remarkable surge, particularly in regions where its consumption was traditionally limited. This rise in popularity is coupled with an expanding market that offers a wide range of options, from high-end collector’s editions to more affordable, yet quality, selections.

For whisky enthusiasts or newcomers looking to build a collection without breaking the bank, there's good news. The world of whisky presents a plethora of excellent options under Rs 10,000. This price range is a sweet spot, offering access to some of the finest whiskies, each boasting its own unique history, crafting process, and flavor profile.

In this guide, we'll explore 11 such whiskies that deserve a place in your collection. From the smoky peat of a classic Islay to the smooth sweetness of a Speyside malt, these selections promise to take you on a journey through the rich and varied landscape of whisky at a price that’s hard to beat.

1. Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old 

Origin and History

Glenfiddich, Gaelic for “Valley of the Deer,” is synonymous with Speyside whisky and has been a cornerstone of this whisky-producing region since 1887. Pioneered by William Grant, this distillery has remained family-owned for generations, a testament to its commitment to tradition and quality.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

The Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old is matured in Oloroso sherry and bourbon oak casks, a process that gives it a distinctively rich, mellow flavor, and a golden hue. This single malt is renowned for its beautifully balanced nose and complex palate.

Tasting Notes

On the nose, it offers a bouquet of pear and subtle oak. The palate is greeted with orchard fruit flavors, particularly pear and apple, with a hint of oak and a touch of honey. The finish is long, smooth, and mellow.

Awards or RecognitionsThis expression has won numerous awards for its consistently high quality, including a Gold at the 2018 International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Food Pairings
Its light and fruity character makes it a perfect accompaniment to seafood, particularly smoked salmon, or simply enjoyed on its own or with a dash of water to unlock its flavors.

2. Jameson Irish Whisky

Origin and History

Founded in 1780 by John Jameson in Dublin, Ireland, Jameson has become one of the most recognizable and popular Irish whiskies globally. The brand has a rich heritage, and its story is deeply intertwined with the history of Ireland itself.
Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

Jameson Irish Whisky is known for its smoothness, which is achieved through a triple distillation process, a tradition of Irish whiskies. It's a blend of pot still and fine grain whiskies, aged in oak barrels that previously held sherry, bourbon, and Spanish Malaga.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: A light floral fragrance, peppered with spicy wood and sweet notes.
  • Palate: Perfect balance of spicy, nutty, and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry. The smoothness is remarkable, with a gentle warmth leading to a lingering, flavorful finish.
  • Finish: A smooth and sweet finish with milk chocolate and butterscotch.

Awards or Recognitions

Jameson has been lauded in several international spirits competitions, reflecting its consistent quality and popularity.

Food Pairings

  • Pairs exceptionally well with ginger ale, enhancing its smoothness without overpowering its distinct character. It's also versatile in cocktails and can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Perfect with apple pie or chocolate desserts for a contrasting flavor experience.

3. Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch

Origin and History

Monkey Shoulder, named after a term used for temporary injury workers suffered in the whisky industry, is a relatively new brand that has quickly gained popularity. It's a blend of three of Speyside's finest single malts.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

This whisky is a mix of three different Speyside single malts, matured in bourbon casks. The focus is on creating a rich, smooth, and approachable flavor profile, making it a favorite among new whisky drinkers and connoisseurs alike.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Delicate floral notes intertwined with zesty citrus, honey, and spiced oak.
  • Palate: Smooth and creamy with hints of mellow vanilla, sweet spices, and a touch of oak. The presence of malt is evident, providing a nice depth.
  • Finish: Long and smooth, with a lingering taste of honey and a hint of spicy oak.

Awards or Recognitions

Monkey Shoulder has won multiple awards for its innovative approach and quality, making it a staple in bars worldwide.

Food Pairings

Its versatility shines in cocktails, especially those requiring a robust malt flavor. It also pairs well with chocolate and rich desserts due to its vanilla and spiced oak notes.

4. Talisker 10 Year Old

Origin and History

Talisker, produced on the Isle of Skye, is known for its maritime character, owing to its coastal location. Founded in 1830, it's the only distillery on the island and is revered for its unique character.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

This single-malt Scotch whisky is aged for 10 years in American oak casks. Talisker is known for its deep, peaty taste, combined with a smoothness and complexity that is often attributed to its island origins.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Powerful peat-smoke with just a hint of the seaweed and a salty, sea-breeze character.
  • Palate: Rich and full-bodied, it brings forward flavors of dried fruits, smoke, and barley, complemented by a rich sweetness.
  • Finish: Long and warming, with an intense smokiness and a hint of licorice.

Awards or Recognitions

  • Talisker 10 Year Old has garnered acclaim in various international whisky competitions for its distinctive and robust flavor profile.

Food Pairings

  • Perfectly complements seafood, especially oysters or smoked salmon. The smoky flavor also pairs well with spicy and flavorful meat dishes.

5. Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old

Origin and History

Chivas Regal, with its roots going back to the 1800s, is one of the world's best-selling blended Scotch whiskies. The brand is known for its smooth, rich, and versatile profile.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

This 12-year-old blend is a mix of many different malt and grain Scotch whiskies. The key to its taste lies in the careful blending, which ensures a consistent and balanced flavor profile.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: An aromatic infusion of wild herbs, heather, honey, and orchard fruits.
  • Palate: Rich and smooth, Chivas 12 opens with the taste of ripe, honeyed apples, and notes of vanilla, hazelnut, and butterscotch.
  • Finish: The finish is rich and lingering, with hints of toasted oak and buttery caramel.

Awards or Recognitions

Recognized and awarded globally, Chivas Regal's 12-Year-Old is celebrated for its extraordinary blending and aging process.

Food Pairings

  • Complements a range of dishes, from savory steaks to rich, creamy desserts. Excellent with dark chocolate or as a sophisticated after-dinner drink.

6. Johnnie Walker Black Label

Origin and History

Johnnie Walker Black Label, with over two centuries of blending expertise, is one of the most iconic blended Scotch whiskies. It's known for its unique blend of whiskies from all four corners of Scotland.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

Aged for 12 years, it's a blend of around 40 whiskies, each aged to perfection. The result is a deep and complex flavor, a hallmark of the Johnnie Walker brand.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Rich and tropical with hints of vanilla, sweet spice, and peat.
  • Palate: Smooth and complex, with dark fruits, vanilla, and smoky flavors.
  • Finish: Long and lingering, with a smoky and spicy character.

Awards or Recognitions

Johnnie Walker Black Label has received numerous accolades and awards, solidifying its status as a premium blended Scotch.
Food Pairings

Versatile in pairing, it goes well with grilled meats, rich chocolate desserts, or strong cheeses.

7. The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Origin and History

The Glenlivet, originating from the Speyside region of Scotland, has a prestigious history dating back to 1824. It's known for setting the standard for the Speyside style of whisky.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

Aged for 12 years, this single malt Scotch is matured in a mix of European and American oak, which imparts distinct flavors to the whisky. The Glenlivet is celebrated for its smoothness and floral elegance.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Aromatic and floral, with hints of summer fruits and a subtle creamy sweetness.
  • Palate: Smooth and fruity, with flavors of vanilla, honey, and orchard fruits, particularly pear and apple.
  • Finish: Long and gentle, with a lingering sweetness and hints of nuts and spice.

Awards or Recognitions

The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old has won several awards, reaffirming its status as a classic example of Speyside single malt whisky.

Food Pairings

Pairs beautifully with light seafood dishes, creamy cheeses, or fruit-based desserts.

8. Aberlour 12 Year Old

Origin and History

Aberlour, located in the heart of Speyside, is known for its rich, complex whiskies. The distillery was founded in 1826 and has a strong reputation for quality and craftsmanship.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

This 12-year-old single malt is double cask matured in traditional oak and sherry casks, which contributes to its deep flavor and amber color.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Rich and fruity, with aromatic spices and subtle oak.
  • Palate: Full-bodied, with a balanced mix of sweet and spicy flavors, showcasing notes of chocolate, toffee, cinnamon, and ginger.
  • Finish: Long and warm, with lingering spice and a touch of sweet sherry.

Awards or Recognitions

Aberlour's 12-Year-Old is frequently recognized in international whisky competitions for its exceptional balance and depth.

Food Pairings

Ideal with rich desserts like chocolate cake or as an accompaniment to a cheese platter featuring aged cheeses.

9. Laphroaig 10 Year Old

Origin and History

Laphroaig, hailing from the Isle of Islay, is famous for its intensely peaty and smoky whiskies. Established in 1815, the distillery has a long-standing tradition of using local peat and water for distillation.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

The 10-year-old expression is matured in ex-bourbon barrels, which gives it a distinctive smoky flavor, typical of Islay malts, coupled with a touch of sweetness.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Bold and smoky, with a strong peat presence accompanied by hints of seaweed and a slight sweetness.
  • Palate: Rich and full-bodied, showcasing deep smoky flavors, along with hints of vanilla, malt, and a touch of the sea.
  • Finish: Long and peaty, with an enduring warmth and slight saltiness.

Awards or Recognitions

Laphroaig 10 Year Old is a highly acclaimed whisky, particularly among lovers of peaty and smoky single malts.
Food Pairings

Best enjoyed with strong flavors like blue cheese or smoked meats, which complement its robust character.

10. Balvenie 12-Year-Old DoubleWood

Origin and History

The Balvenie distillery, located in Speyside, Scotland, has a rich history dating back to 1892. Known for its traditional craftsmanship, Balvenie maintains a high level of hands-on production, including growing its own barley and maintaining its own cooperage.

Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

The 12-year-old DoubleWood gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types. It starts in traditional whisky casks, and American oak ex-bourbon barrels, and finishes in European oak sherry casks, which contributes to its rich, mellow flavor.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry notes, layered with honey and vanilla.
  • Palate: Smooth and mellow, with beautifully combined flavors of nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness, and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry.
  • Finish: Long and warming, with a pleasant, lingering sherry tone.

Awards or Recognitions

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old is a highly acclaimed whisky, praised for its depth and balanced flavors.

Food Pairings

Pairs well with caramel desserts or rich, creamy cheeses, complementing its sweet and smooth profile.

11. Glenmorangie The Original 10-Year-Old

Origin and History

Glenmorangie, one of Scotland's most renowned distilleries, has been producing whisky since 1843 in the Highlands. It's famed for its use of the tallest stills in Scotland, which contribute to its distinctively smooth and elegant character.
Distillation Process and Unique Characteristics

The Original 10-Year-Old is matured in first and second-fill American white oak casks. These casks are known for imparting a natural sweetness to the whisky.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Aromatic with floral notes, hints of peach, and vanilla.
  • Palate: Creamy and fruity, with flavors of peaches and cream, citrus, and a hint of nuttiness.
  • Finish: Gentle and lingering, with subtle notes of orange and vanilla.

Awards or Recognitions

Glenmorangie The Original is celebrated worldwide for its refined smoothness and elegant profile, winning numerous awards in international competitions.

Food Pairings

12. Indri-Trini

Excellent with light seafood dishes or fresh fruit desserts, enhancing its delicate fruity character.

At the heart of Piccadily Distilleries is Indri, a one-of-its-kind single malt made in India. Launched in 2021, Indri-Trini is India's first triple cask single malt bottled at 42.8% abv. Indri or Indriya in Sanskrit refers to the 5 senses - smell, taste, touch, sight and sound. Trini literally alludes to the three coveted casks that the single malt is matured in—ex-bourbon, ex-French wine and PX Sherry. Having won more than 14 global awards so far, Indri Trini has put India on the world map of premium single malts like never before. The smooth single malt carries a deep amber colour and notes of caramelized pineapple, vanilla, black tea, raisins, honey and a long aftertaste of sweet fruity flavours that leave you wanting for more.

Conclusion

Each of these 11 whiskies offers a unique experience, catering to a range of palates and preferences. Whether you are drawn to the peaty punch of an Islay malt like Laphroaig, the smooth elegance of a Speyside whisky like Glenfiddich, or the balanced richness of a blended Scotch like Johnnie Walker Black Label, there’s something in this list for every whisky enthusiast. At under Rs 10,000, these selections provide an accessible entry into the world of premium whiskies without compromising on quality and taste. As you explore these diverse and exquisite whiskies, remember to savor each sip and appreciate the craftsmanship and history in every bottle.

 

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