Royal Challenge

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Royal Challenge
TypeIndian whisky
ManufacturerUnited Spirits Ltd (USL)
Country of origin India
Introducedearly 1980s
Alcohol by volume 42 .8%
ColourGolden amber
Related products

Royal Challenge, commonly referred to by the abbreviation RC, is a brand of Indian whisky, manufactured by United Spirits Ltd (USL). It was launched in the early 1980s.[1] According to Binod K. Maitin, a United Breweries technician who oversees all the liquor blends for the company, Royal Challenge is a grain flavored whisky, blended with Scotch malts and Indian malts.[2][3] In an article for The Wall Street Journal, reporter Eric Felton states that, "About 12% of the blend comes from real malt whiskies: some of it made in India, some actual Scotch. The rest of the mix is a neutral spirit distilled from molasses. (It's much easier and cheaper to grow sugar cane than barley in India.) That means that, strictly speaking, Royal Challenge, like most Indian "whisky", is actually a rum flavored to pass as whisky."[4] The manufacturer has refused to state the percentage of Scotch whisky used in the blend.[2] In the United States, Royal Challenge is referred to as "spirit whisky".[5] Besides India, Royal Challenge is sold in several other countries including the Middle East and the United States.[2][3]


Royal Challenge was originally manufactured by Shaw Wallace and launched in India in the early 1980s. In March 2000, Shaw Wallace re-launched the brand with new packaging and advertising created by Ammiratis Puris Lintas.[6]

United Spirits Ltd (USL), a Diageo group company, acquired Shaw Wallace in July 2005.[7] On 1 April 2008, Shaw Wallace was merged with USL and Royal Challenge officially became a USL brand.[8] The same month, the UB Group hired Claessens International to redesign the packaging of Royal Challenge.[9][10]

Royal Challenge was officially introduced in the United States by American United Beer & Spirits (UBS) at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Conference in April 2012.[11]


In an early advertising campaign, Shaw Wallace described its products as "India's most wanted" and "The competition's envy, Shaw Wallace's pride".[12] In December 2003, Royal Challenge launched a new advertising campaign, "What's life without Royal Challenge". The new campaign sought to portray the Royal challenge drinker as a "young contemporary urban male who exudes relaxed confidence". The campaign, created by Orchard, was estimated to cost Shaw Wallace 12-14 crore.[13] Royal Challenge has often sponsored golf events like the CII Golf championship, the Indian Golf Championship and the Indian Open Golf, and also associated itself with the sport.[14] In 2004, Bangalore-based Golfware India Pvt Ltd was licensed to manufacture and distribute golf clubs and accessories with the Royal Challenge logo.[15]

The Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challengers Bangalore was named after and is sponsored by Royal Challenge.[citation needed] The team was first unveiled on 12 March 2008.[16] A PIL was later filed by a Faridabad-based resident Krishan Kumar Aggarwal,[17] who alleged that the UB Group was seeking to promote its liquor brand under the garb of the IPL team. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition on 29 April 2008.[18] Royal Challenge also partners other IPL teams (Delhi Captitals and Kings XI Punjab) and the Sahara Force India Formula 1.[19]

In February 2012, American United Beer & Spirits (UBS), the exclusive United States importer and distributor of the UB Group, signed Indian actress-turned-enterpreuner Pooja Batra to represent Royal Challenge whisky in the US.[2]


Royal Challenge led the premium whisky segment by sales volume throughout India during the 1980s and 1990s. It held this position until 2004.[20]

In the 2003–04 fiscal year (ending 31 March 2004), Royal Challenge become the first premium whisky to cross one million cases in a year. It accounted for 65% of the 1.5 million-case premium whisky segment of the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) industry.[21]

The following table shows the annual sales of Royal Challenge:

Year Sales (in million cases)
2002-03 0.85[22][23]
2006 1.1[24]
2007 1.2[24]


  1. ^ "Royal Challenge Whisky". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Vora, Shivani (29 February 2012). "India's Newest Export: Whiskey". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Royal Challenge whisky reminds good times abroad". 2 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Royal Challenge Whisky". Cms Drinks International. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Kyndal signs up for Indian whisky launch". Marketing Week. 27 June 2002. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Shaw Wallace relaunches Royal Challenge". Business Line. 26 February 2000. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Radico, Mason, BDA in fray for part of SWC liquor biz ICICI Bank talking to suitors". Business Line. 31 May 2005. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Shaw Wallace board okays merger with USL". The Hindu. 30 November 2007. Archived from the original on 2 December 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  9. ^ Udit Prasanna Mukherji (26 April 2008). "Mallya to keep brand Shaw Wallace alive". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  10. ^ M Padmakshan (3 August 2002). "Liquor brands going for stylish, sleeker looks". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Pooja Batra Appointed US Brand Ambassador For Royal Challenge Whisky". 16 April 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  12. ^ "'Vijay Sahib Aap Bhi' - Shaw Wallace new TVC takes a dig at UB". The Hindu. 26 January 2000. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  13. ^ Ashish Sinha (15 December 2003). "New Shaw Wallace campaign targets youth". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Royal Challenge to focus more on golf". Business Line. 12 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Royal Challenge brand promotion via Web site". Business Line. 28 February 2002. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Vijay Mallya unveils IPL team Royal Challengers". The Economic Times. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  17. ^ "SC dismisses case over Mallya's IPL team's name". 28 April 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  18. ^ "Court rejects plea against 'Royal Challengers'". The Hindu. 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  19. ^ "Royal Challenge". Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  20. ^ "The Hindu Business Line : Seagram knocks out Royal Challenge from top slot in AP". Business Line. 16 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Royal Challenge whisky sales cross 1-m cases". Business Line. 8 April 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  22. ^ "Seagram knocks out Royal Challenge from top slot in AP". Business Line. 16 March 2004. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  23. ^ "Shaw Wallace hopes to register record sales of RC". The Economic Times. PTI. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  24. ^ a b "WORLD WHISKIES – Brand Champions 2012". 18 July 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2013.

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