If there are two places that have an obvious affinity for whiskey, it’s the United States and Scotland. People in both countries are proud producers and proud consumers, sometimes to the point of obsession. But they don’t imbibe the most whiskey in the world—not by a long shot. When it comes to straight-up volume, India is far and away the biggest whiskey drinking country.
According to research by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Indians consumed 1.5 billion liters of whiskey in 2014. That’s compared to a (relatively) paltry 462 million liters drank in the United States, and 140 million liters drunk in France, the third highest whiskey drinking country. Japan is number four with 109 million liters, and Britain is number five with 77 million liters. In all, India consumed nearly half of all of the whiskey produced in the world.
There are a couple of caveats once the numbers are broken down, however. India has more than 1.2 billion people compared to the U.S. population of 318 million. Winning a numbers game with the second largest population in the world is easy. But not everyone in India is a drinker. The World Health Organization notes that around 85 percent of Indians abstained from alcohol (making the drinking population around 180 million) during the last study in 2010, compared to just 31 percent of Americans (which makes the drinking population around 220 million).
Broken down by total per capita consumption, the list looks a little different. France is the number one country per capita, with 2.15 liters of whiskey drunk per person. Uruguay was next with 1.77 liters, followed by the United States (1.14 liters), Australia (1.3 liters) and Spain (1.29 liters). Likely because of India’s large non-drinking population, the country doesn’t show up on the total per capita whiskey drinkers list until number nine with 1.24 liters.
India drinks a lot of imports, primarily scotch, but it also makes plenty of whiskey itself. Officer’s Choice, a budget Indian whiskey, is the world’s largest spirit brand, and the spirits producer UB India is the world’s largest whiskey company by production volume. Maybe it’s time to try some for yourself.