Signature (whisky)

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Type Indian whisky
Manufacturer United Spirits Ltd (USL)
Country of origin India
Introduced 1994
Alcohol by volume 42.8%[1]
Colour Bright amber[1]
  • Signature Rare Aged
  • Signature Premier Grain
Related products

Signature, also known as McDowell's Signature, is a brand of Indian whisky, manufactured by United Spirits Ltd (USL), a subsidiary of the United Breweries Group. It was launched in 1994.[2][3] Signature is made from aged whiskies from the Islay and Highland regions of Scotland combined with aged Indian malts. This is then blended for an extended period of time to ensure the essence of various Scotches.[4] Signature is sold in octagonal bottles which were designed by London-based design firm Claessens International, who also designed the packaging.[5] It is available in two variants - Signature Rare Aged and Signature Premier Grain.[4]


Signature was launched in 1994.[2][3] The company behind it, now known as United Spirits Ltd (USL) was incorporated in the year 1999 as McDowell Sprits Ltd. The company changed its name from McDowell Sprits Ltd to McDowell & Company Ltd on 1 April 2000. The company changed their name again to the current name USL, with effect from 17 October 2006.[6]

Signature was initially available only in quarts (750 ml bottles), but introduced nips (180 ml) and pints (375 ml) in October 1999.[7] Initially launched in the super-premium segment of the Indian whisky market, Signature was lowered to the premium category in 2001. [8] As part of the repositioning the erstwhile metal canister[disambiguation needed] used in the packaging was replaced by a cardboard one, allowing a significant saving in packaging costs.[7]

In January 2002, Business Line reported that Signature had entered the Canteen Stores Depot (CSD) for defence services.[9] Signature was launched in Tamil Nadu on 5 August 2004.[5]


Signature Premier was launched in two markets in April 2011. It is India's first spirits brand blended with 8 year old scotch. It was crafted by third generation Scottish master blender, Richard Paterson.[10][11] By March 2012, the brand was launched in 24 markets across the country, capturing 3% market share and a consolidated growth of 31% together with the Signature Rare variant. [10]


Signature's marketing associates the brand with lifestyle events and "elite sports"[12][8] such as golf, derby, tennis and polo, besides hosting seminars featuring experts in the field of management and marketing, as well as promoting theatre. [2][3] Signature sponsors the McDowell's Indian Derby, an annual horse racing event, as well as "Signature IPL Nights", the after match parties of the Indian Premier League. Another event sponsored by the brand is the annual "Signature Fashion Tour" which features Indian designers and supermodels.[4] Signature has its own polo team, who won the Indian Open Polo Championship in 2002. The McDowell’s Signature Club Golf Championship, sponsored by the brand, was launched in 2002. The inaugural tournament, which began on October 5,[12] drew over 3,500 golfers from across 12 golf clubs in the country.[3]

Signature sponsored Boniface Prabhu's participation at the 2003 French Open Wheelchair Tennis Championship in France. Prabhu was the first Indian wheelchair tennis player to reach the US Open, British Open and Australian Open Grand Slam semi-finals and finals. He is also the first Indian to be listed in the world ranking in the history of wheelchair tennis.[13] In 2004, Signature is introduced the marketing slogan "The New Sign Of Success" and associated itself with premium lifestyle sports and events such as golf, polo and theatre besides hosting experts in the field of management and marketing. The brand had an annual promotional budget of INR8-10 crore that year. It also unveiled an "Icon Series" advertising campaign that recognized successful new age entrepreneurs. The campaign featured Alok Kejriwal of Contest2Win and Jay Galla of Amaron Batteries "as people who came from nowhere to script new corporate success stories".[2]

In July 2006, Mudra, Bangalore was appointed as the creative agency for the Signature brand, taking over from Rediffusion DY&R, Bangalore, who parted ways with USL mutually.[14] In November 2012, Akshay Kumar was signed as the brand ambassador of Signature for their "Success is living in the spotlight" campaign. The 13 week long TV campaign aired later that month..[15] Abhay Deol was the brand ambassador for Signature Premier in 2012.[10][11]


In the 2008-09 fiscal year, sales of Signature whisky crossed 1 million cases for the first time.[16]

The following table shows the annual sales of Signature Rare:

Year Sales (in million cases)
1998-99 0.018[3]
2000 0.11[8]
2002 0.18[3]
2003 0.22[17]
2009 1.1[18]
2010 1.3[18]
2011 1.6[18]
2012 1.8[19]


Signature Rare[edit]

  • McDowell's Signature Rare Whisky Mobile Bar Pack won the Indiastar Award 2002 for "its innovative concept, visual appeal and convenience". Indian Institute of Packaging's Indiastar Award is an annual national award for innovative and creative designs in packaging, in constructive and material usage, innovative technology and in the incorporation of environment considerations.. The winners are eligible to enter the Asiastar and Worldstar awards organised by the Asian Packaging Organisation and the World Packaging Organisation. The Signature Mobile Bar was designed by Pearl Polymer, is easy to carry and has space for the bottle as well as a glass. This was the third time McDowell's Signature Rare Whisky won the Indiastar Award. The first was for the green Signature Canister and the second for the twin pack offer.[20]
  • Won silver and best in class at the 2005 International Wine and Spirit Competition[21]
  • Won gold in "Blended Whisky (Under 10 Years Old)" category at the 2010 International Whisky Competition held in Chicago, United States.[22]
  • Won bronze at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles..[21]

Signature Premier[edit]

  • Signature Premier Grain whisky was awarded "Whisky of the Year 2012" by the International Whisky Competition held in Chicago.[23][10][11]
  • Signature Premier Grain whisky was awarded "Whisky of the Year 2012" at the World Spirits Awards held in Austria.[10][11]
  • The brand also won a silver medal at the Ninth ISW International Spirits Competition held in Germany.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b "Spirits Review for Signature Rare Aged Whisky $6". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d "UB expects CSD sales to boost Signature whisky". Business Line. 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "UB Spirits Division Eyes 27% Growth For Signature Sales". The Financial Express. 2003-07-04. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  4. ^ a b c "Signature". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  5. ^ a b "UB's `Signature' whisky in TN". Business Line. 2004-08-06. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  6. ^ "United Spirits Ltd Background details about Company Profile". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  7. ^ a b "Signature Whisky in nips and pints". The Financial Express. 1999-09-09. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  8. ^ a b c "Signature whisky pushed to premium category". The Economic Times. 2001-11-16. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  9. ^ "Defence canteen supply - McDowell's Signature takes on Royal Challenge whisky". Business Line. 2002-01-09. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "India's First Aged Whisky - Signature Premier - Completes its Maiden Year on a High". 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "India’s First Aged Whisky - Signature Premier – Completes its Maiden Year on a High". Central Chronicle. 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  12. ^ a b Anil Urs (2002-10-03). "McDowell’s Signature to enter defence canteen stores". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  13. ^ "Signature to sponsor Boniface Prabhu". Business Line. 2003-06-25. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  14. ^ "Mudra bags the creative duties for McDowell's Signature Whisky". 2006-07-25. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  15. ^ "Akshay new brand ambassador of McDowell Signature". DNA. 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  16. ^ "United Spirits FY09 profit falls 5%". The Economic Times. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  17. ^ "Seagram knocks out Royal Challenge from top slot in AP". Business Line. 2004-03-16. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  18. ^ a b c "WORLD WHISKIES – Brand Champions 2012". 2012-07-18. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  19. ^ Indian Whisky Brand Champions 2013. (2013-07-08). Retrieved on 2013-12-23.
  20. ^ "Indiastar Award 2002 goes to McDowell's Signature Rare Whisky Mobile Bar Pack". 2002-12-05. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  21. ^ a b "Signature Award". Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  22. ^ "The 2010 International Whisky Competition Announces the Official Results for the Best Whiskies of the Year". 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  23. ^ "International Whisky Competition Unveils Winning Whiskies for 2012". 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 

External links[edit]