Murree Brewery Pakistan and Great Export Opportunities

Religion, Culture and Commerce in Pakistan

Murree Brewery is a Pakistani multinational manufacturer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It is Pakistan’s largest and oldest producer of alcoholic products. In 2015, according to Wikipedia, it produced approximately 10 million liters of beer, along with hundreds of tons of single malt whiskey, Scotch whiskey, vodka, and brandy.

The Murree Brewery Company Ltd. was established in 1860 to meet the beer demand of British personnel at Ghora Gali near the resort place of Murree. The Brewery was managed by the family of Edward Dyer, father of Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer. In the 1880’s the company established a further brewery in Rawalpindi and a distillery in Quetta. Due to the scarcity of water in Murree in the 1920’s, brewing was mostly transferred to Rawalpindi but malting continued at Ghora Gali until the 1940’s, when this property was sold.

Furthermore, this brewery, built in the Gothic revival style of architecture, was burnt down during the independence of Pakistan in 1947, while the brewery in Quetta was destroyed in the 1935 Quetta earthquake. In the 1940’s, the controlling share or interest in the brewery was obtained by Peston Bandhara, who used to run a liquor business in Lahore before the Pakistani independence. His son, the late M.P. Bandhara later carried on the business and now it is being run by a grandson, Isphanyar Bandhara. In the 1960’s the brewery imported oak casks from North America, Australia, and Spain, and the underground cellars now hold over half a million liters of malt whiskey for varying periods of maturation up to 12 years. Murree brewery produces a world class single malt whiskey. A new beer canning and modern bottle filling facility were installed in the 1990’s, which was reportedly imported from Germany.

Moreover, in 2007, Murree became the Muslim world’s first brewery to make 20-year-old malt whiskey named “Rarest Malt Whisky”. But, according to law, it cannot be exported and cannot be consumed by 97% of the population of Pakistan as the local law prohibits Muslims from drinking alcohol. However, CEO of Murree claims that “99 percent of his customers are Muslims.” In 1977, the Murree Brewery suffered a significant setback when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto imposed a total alcohol prohibition in Pakistan, to appease Islamic elements of the electorate.

Subsequently, the government of General Zia-ul-Haq amended this law, requiring anyone wishing to consume alcohol to present credentials demonstrating that they were non-Muslim. The small Christian, Hindu, and Parsi communities were not large enough to support the enterprise, and production had to be scaled back. However, gradual relaxation of the prohibition laws has allowed Murree Brewery to introduce variations of Murree beer, vodka, gin and whisky.

Today, all Murree products are readily available in legal liquor shops that operate openly in Karachi in places like Samsara and Defence. It is also available in the interior of Sindh.

Although the consumption of alcohol in public places is still nominally banned, it is becoming increasingly available in clubs and high-class restaurants in Sindh. Murree brewery has started producing mineral water as well in all sizes and shapes available in the market. It has also surfaced that on June 6, 2012, Scout Willis, the daughter of Hollywood actor Bruce Willis, was arrested in New York City and jailed overnight for drinking a beer manufactured by Murree Brewery. Now that’s a beer that went too far, however, if restrictions on the export of alcohol are removed, Pakistan can generate a good amount of revenue out of this viable product.