The Distilled Series 2: Betterment Brands and Godawan

The Distilled Series 2: Betterment Brands and Godawan

18 Mar 2024

“India’s young affluent consumers have a new-found pride in their Indian provenance alongside contributing towards a better, sustainable world. I could not be prouder of Godawan.”
Hina Nagarajan Managing Director and CEO, Diageo India

When you think of an artisan luxury Single Malt, Rajasthan might not be the first place that springs to mind.

And yet the hottest state in India has produced Godawan, a true gem in the Diageo Single Malt portfolio and a flag bearer for Betterment Brands. Consumers are thirsty for products that drive positive change for the environment, society and local communities. And in India, this is especially true for whisky.

India is the largest whisky market by volume in the world. It is a country that has a deep-rooted whisky culture with a long and rich history of appreciation for whisky, that embraces both domestically produced and imported whiskies. In fact, India is one of the few countries in the world where whisky is nearly twice the size of beer.

When Diageo India expressed a desire several years ago to launch a new luxury product in India – one that appealed to the growing number of younger, affluent consumers in India; consumers who possessed what Vikram Damodaran, Chief Innovation Officer, Diageo India, calls “Indian Pride”, it was no surprise that the preference was for a locally produced whisky brand.

“It needed to showcase the very best of what Diageo brings to the table and the very best of what India brings to the table. So it was decided that we would produce a luxury Indian Single Malt,” says Vikram.

Given Diageo owned seven distilleries across India, there was a big decision to make: where to produce this Single Malt? And in making this decision the Diageo saw an opportunity to deliver something entirely new and desirable for local and international markets: to create Godawan, a Single Malt not just about Indian Pride but also about sustainability, local community and ingenuity.

“Choosing the Alwar distillery in Rajasthan might have surprised some. When you think of a traditional distillery you think of Scotland, beautiful lakes and countryside,” says Vikram. “But in drinks production terms Rajasthan is an anomaly. It is extremely hot, dry with no obvious water sources. But when we decided upon producing it at Alwar it made us ask a question of ourselves – how do we create beauty and rarity from this environment?”

And the answer was to focus entirely on creating a whisky with sustainability in mind – to answer every challenge by pushing the dial and ensuring the process was as sustainable as possible.

And in doing so the Godawan team focused on four main areas: Sourcing and Ingredients; Water Usage; Low Carbon Footprint and Local Conservation.

Sourcing and ingredients

Godawan is made using specific barley that needs less water to thrive. The barley used is grown and sourced in six farms local to the distillery – and this in turn allows the barley (and the whisky) to be completely traceable.

Water usage

Godawan uses an efficient slow trickle distillation process. While this increases the distillation time, it decreases the water usage. Since the team started production of Godawan they have made improvements to reduce water usage. As a result, in March 2023, Alwar was awarded the Alliance for Water Stewardship Certification (the first distillery in Asia to attain this standard).

Acceleration to Low Carbon footprint

Alwar has transitioned from coal to biofuel use for the thermal energy requirement in the distillation process. As part of Diageo’s Spirit of Progress 2030, the distillery has committed to moving to 60% renewable electricity by 2026 and 100% by 2030.   

Nature Conservation

Godawan has made a long-term commitment to the conservation of The Great Indian Bustard bird, which appears on the front label of every bottle.

The Great Indian Bustard is on the UN Red List of Endangered species, and with less than 150 birds left in the extreme terrain of Rajasthan. Diageo in partnership with local NGO community groups have worked on various conservation measures. These include safe habitat development through grassland, provision of water, protection from predators and poachers. 

Importantly Diageo is committed to this project long-term, with donations from each sale as well as proceeds from auctions of the Godawan 100 Limited Edition series going towards conservation efforts.

Godawan’s Alwar Distiller is helping to reduce water waste. Find out more here.

The first feature in our Distilled Series, Conscious Wellbeing

The full Distilled Report