Royal Stag

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Royal Stag
Type Indian whisky
Manufacturer Seagram Manufacturing Ltd.
Distributor Pernod Ricard
Country of origin India
Introduced 1995
Alcohol by volume 42.8%
Colour Brown
Flavour Strong malty flavour
Ingredients Indian grain spirits, Scotch malt
  • Royal Stag
  • Royal Stag Barrel Select
Related products

Royal Stag, also known as Seagram's Royal Stag, is a brand of Indian whisky, owned by Pernod Ricard, and launched in 1995.[1][2] It is Pernod Ricard India's best selling brand. It is a blend of Indian grain spirits and imported Scotch malts. It is commonly available in 1L, 750ml, 375ml and 180ml bottles, and also available in 90ml and 60ml bottles.[3] The brand is named after a species of deer famous for its antlers,[4] that is also featured in its logo. It is produced in several company-owned as well as bottler-owned distilleries.[5][6] It does not use any artificial colour or flavour.[4]

Pernod Ricard has identified Royal Stag, along with Imperial Blue, Blenders Pride, Chivas Regal and 100 Pipers as the company's five core brands to build its spirits business in India.[7] Royal Stag sold 12.3 million cases in 2011, toppling Absolut Vodka, to become Pernod Ricard's largest selling brand in its global portfolio of alcoholic beverages.[8]


Royal Stag was launched in India in 1995 by Seagram,[5] with a product promise of "No Artificial Flavours". The brand sold around 400,000 cases in 1997.[9] The Hindu reported that in the calendar year 2000, Royal Stag sold more than one million cases, making it the second brand from a multinational liquor company, after United Distillers & Vintners (UDV) owned "Gilbey's Green Label" whisky, to do so.[5] Seagram's global business was jointly acquired by Pernod Ricard and Diageo on 21 December 2001. The two companies later split Seagram's business based on the previously announced framework agreement signed between them.[10] Seagram's Indian operations were acquired by Pernod Ricard.[1] Pernod Ricard had previously entered the Indian market by acquiring a 74% stake in United Agencies Ltd (UAL), with a bottling facility in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. UAL was merged with Seagram's Indian business and continued operations under the name Seagram Manufacturing Ltd. The decision to integrate UAL into Seagram was taken due to the latter's larger operations in the country.[11]

In the calendar year 2001, Royal Stag was selling over 125,000 cases per month[12] and sold approximately 2.5 million cases in 2002.[13] The brand's annualised sales during the 2004 calendar year crossed 3 million cases,[7] and increased to nearly 4 million cases in 2006.[14] Royal Stag was ranked second among Indian spirits brands in Impact International's 2008 list of "Top 100 Brands at Retail Value" with a retail value of US$505 million.[15] The brand reported sales of 8 million cases in 2009 and nearly 10.6 million cases in 2010.[16]

Royal Stag sold 12.3 million cases in 2011, toppling Absolut which sold 11.3 million cases, to become Pernod Ricard's largest selling brand in its global portfolio of alcoholic beverages.[8]

Barrel Select[edit]

Pernod Ricard launched a premium version of Royal Stag, called Royal Stag Barrel Select in December 2011.[17] United Kingdom-based consultants CARTILS developed the packaging and developed a marketing strategy for Barrel Select. CARTILS felt it was necessary to differentiate the brand from Royal Stag, to avoid portfolio cannibalisation. The Barrel Select bottle has a rectangular shape similar to Royal Stag, and features an image of a stag.[3][18][19]


Royal Stag is placed in the deluxe segment of the Indian whisky market and is priced to target the middle class.[4] The brand's main national competitor, at its price point, is United Spirits Ltd's McDowell's No.1 whisky.[20] In some states, Royal Stag also faces competition from Radico Khaitan's 8 PM Royale,[21] Mason & Summers' "Royal Crown",[22] and United Spirits Ltd's Royal Mist whiskies.[23]

Advertising alcoholic beverages is banned in India as per the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which came into effect on 8 September 2000.[24] To circumvent the ban liquor manufacturers use surrogate advertising or develop associate properties. Royal Stag uses three themes – Mega Movie, Mega Music and Mega Cricket – to promote the brand.[4] According to Seagram India's vice-president, marketing, Bikram Basu, "We've developed Royal Stag Mega Cricket and Royal Stag Mega Movies to promote the brand." Mega Cricket sells cricket gear, and sponsors cricket events, and Basu claims that Mega Movies sponsors "around 8–10 national releases of Hollywood movies every year." The brand often uses cricketers and Bollywood stars in its advertising. The brand's slogan is "It's your life, make it large."[3]

Brand ambassadors[edit]

In 2004, Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram was fined 25,000 Pakistani rupees (INR19,743[25] / £238) and ordered to apologise to the nation by a Pakistan Civil Court, for allegedly appearing in a Royal Stag advertisement. His lawyer, Fawad Chaudhry, denied the allegations. Akram had appeared in a publicity campaign for Royal Stag that year, along with cricketers Harbhajan Singh, Glenn McGrath, Jonty Rhodes, Andy Flower and Stephen Fleming.[26]

In 2006, a Royal Stag ad featuring Harbhajan Singh without his turban, with his hair tumbling down over his shoulders, outraged orthodox Sikhs, who burnt effigies in the city of Amritsar.[27] Sikh clergy and its representative body, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) demanded an apology from Singh and demanded that Seagram withdraw the ad, which the SGPC termed, an "offensive representation which has hurt the feelings of Sikhs." Singh later apologised saying, "I apologise. In case I have hurt the feelings of my people, it was really not my intention."[28]

The brand's first TV commercial with Saif Ali Khan as brand ambassador, aired in 2007. The campaign was developed by creative agency Ogilvy & Mather. It featured cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa. According to Bikram Basu, vice-president, marketing, Seagram India, "The TVC [television commercial] intends to further strengthen the brand's positioning of "Make it Large"."[29]

On 10 February 2010, Pernod Ricard India announced that it had signed Shahrukh Khan, for an undisclosed amount, as the brand ambassador for Royal Stag, for a period of one year. The company said that Shahrukh would work in tandem with Saif Ali Khan, who has been the brand ambassador since 2007.[30] In April 2013, social activist T Satish Kumar and student leader Banoth Amru Naik, from the Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh, filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) against Telugu film actor Mahesh Babu for endorsing Royal Stag. The annulment of the agreemenet would result in Sri Lanka Cricket losing its rights to organise matches at the stadium.[31]

Cricketers that have featured as brand ambassadors or have appeared in Royal Stag advertising include Andy Flower, Gautam Gambhir, Glenn McGrath, Harbhajan Singh, Jonty Rhodes, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ricky Ponting, Robin Uthappa, Stephen Fleming, Wasim Akram and Yuvraj Singh.[26][32]


The Royal Stag brand often sponsors various music and sporting events. Royal Stag has been associated with Sahara Cup matches in Toronto, Canada from 1996 up to 1999.[33] Under the name "Seagram's Royal Stag Mega Music", the brand sponsored a multi-city music tour featuring Strings, along with Saif Ali Khan (then brand ambassador) and Parikrama in January 2008.[34]

In September 2010, The Island reported that the chief incumbent of the Rangiri Dambulla Temple and owner of the land on which the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is built, Ven Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thero, had written a show cause letter dated 2 September to Sri Lanka Cricket, after the latter had violated the lease agreement between the two, by allowing Royal Stag and McDowell Platinum whisky to advertise in the stadium during the 2010 Sri Lanka Triangular Series.[35] Royal Stag was the title sponsor for the 4th Mirchi Music Awards, which was held in Mumbai on 21 March 2012.[36][37]


The following table shows the annual sales of Royal Stag:

Year Sales (in million cases)
1997 0.40[9]
2000 1.0[5]
2001 1.12[38]
2002 1.75[38]
2004 3[7]
2006 4.2[39]
2007 5.6[39]
2008 6.8[39]
2009 8.4[39]
2010 10.4[39]
2011 12.5[40]
2012[40] 14


Royal Stag was launched in Nepal on 10 October 2000. Pernod Ricard entered into a Technical and Marketing Agreement (TMA) with Himalayan Distillery for domestic production of the brand in Nepal, from the latter's distillery in Birgunj, Narayani Zone. The brand is classified as Nepal-made foreign liquor and is a blended whisky. It is a blend of imported Scotch malts and Nepali grain spirits. Himalayan Distillery had a distribution network of more than 46 exclusive dealers across Nepal, and over 6 million litres production capacity as of October 2010. The factory produces 25,000 cases in a month.

Royal Stag is sold in Nepal in bottles of 750 ml, 375 ml and 180 ml. The brand dominated its operating segment with over half of the total market size. Its annual sales crossed over 250,000 cases in a total market size of 450,000 cases in 2009.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Pernod Ricard India set to take over Seagram's local operations this week". The Financial Express. 12 February 2002. 
  2. ^ "McDowell's No.1 Platinum advertisement featuring MS Dhoni takes a dig at Royal Stag". The Economic Times. 24 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Royal Stag". Pernod Ricard. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Royal Stag celebrates a decade of excellence". The Himalayan Times. 10 October 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Royal Stag". 
  6. ^ Paul Nyman. "Seagram Royal Stag Whisky". 
  7. ^ a b c "Seagram identifies 5 core brands to build spirits biz". Business Line. 31 March 2005. 
  8. ^ a b "Royal Stag topples Absolut Vodka to lead volume chart in Pernod's portfolio". The Economic Times. 10 February 2012. 
  9. ^ a b ""Millionaire" crown for Royal Stag". The Hindu. 12 January 2001. 
  10. ^ "Pernod Ricard to acquire Seagram Spirits & Wine jointly with Diageo". 20 December 2000. 
  11. ^ "Pernod to merge with Seagram in India". The Hindu. 3 November 2001. 
  12. ^ Arshdeep Sehgal (20 November 2001). "Desi whiskies go classy". The Economic Times. 
  13. ^ Arshdeep Sehgal (13 November 2002). "Pernod to cork up Santiago & Tilsbury, open Seagram". The Economic Times. 
  14. ^ M Padmakshan (23 October 2006). "Seagram to roll out locally made wines". The Economic Times. 
  15. ^ Boby Kurian (5 March 2009). "McDowell's in top10 global spirits league". The Economic Times. 
  16. ^ "Royal Stag, Officer's Choice challenge Mallya's empire". The Times of India. 16 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Pernod Ricard India raises local whiskey price bar". 3 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "Royal Stag Barrel Select". The Dieline. 7 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "New packaging, New Royal Stag. New Blenders Pride". 30 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "UB relaunches flagship brand McDowell No. 1". Business Line. 26 February 2002. 
  21. ^ "Radico uncorks battle Royale with McDowell No. 1 whisky". Business Line. 6 May 2004. 
  22. ^ "Mason & Summers pours out 2 more whisky brands". Business Line. 4 January 2005. 
  23. ^ "USL launches Royal Mist whisky in Jharkhand". The Financial Express. 8 November 2007. 
  24. ^ "Alcohol Law in India". 16 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "XE Currency Table: PKR – Pakistani Rupee". 9 March 2004. 
  26. ^ a b "Wasim challenges ruling". BBC News. 9 March 2004. 
  27. ^ Coomber, John (8 January 2008). "Turbanator's history with Aussies". Fox Sports. 
  28. ^ Ramaninder K Bhatia (8 October 2006). "Bhajji can't let hair down". The Times of India. 
  29. ^ "Royal Stag mixes a large one with Bollywood and cricket". 24 December 2007. 
  30. ^ PTI (10 February 2012). "Shahrukh Khan roped in as ambassador for Royal Stag". The Economic Times. 
  31. ^ "Two Youths Accuse Telugu Star Mahesh Babu for Making Them Alcoholics". International Business Times. 5 April 2013. 
  32. ^ "Gautam Gambhir is now Royal Stag's brand ambassador". 
  33. ^ "Seagram Ropes in Top Cricketers". The Financial Express. 11 November 2002. 
  34. ^ "The Seagram's Royal Stag Presents Saif Ali Khan, Parikrama & Strings four city concert comes to the Capital". afaqs!. 27 January 2008. 
  35. ^ "SLC to lose Dambulla Stadium?= Violated agreement by permitting Indian liquor promotion". The Island. 6 September 2010. 
  36. ^ "4th Mirchi Music Awards". The Times of India. 25 March 2012. 
  37. ^ "Radio Mirchi honours music talent at the Royal Stag Mirchi Music Awards". afaqs!. 22 March 2012. 
  38. ^ a b "Seagram's spirited growth stuns desi brands". Business Line]]. 5 August 2003. 
  39. ^ a b c d e "WORLD WHISKIES – Brand Champions 2012". 18 July 2012. 
  40. ^ a b "Indian Whisky Brand Champions 2013". 8 July 2013. 

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