A BLACK market has flourished for Scotch whisky ever since the Indian Government slapped an import ban on the liquor, with much of the demand coming from the cities. Some manufacturers are producing what is advertised as IMFL (Indian-made foreign liquor), which is a blend of Scotch and Indian whisky and hardly the real thing. Nor is the stuff properly bottled. The liquor is most likely produced in one of the side-lanes of Bombay by unscrupulous businessmen, who reuse old whisky bottles. Tim Jackson, director of commercial affairs with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which groups the whisky distillers, said: ''There is a lot of counterfeit whisky in the Indian market which the consumer buys, and for which he pays a substantial sum. ''What some of the Indian companies have done is proposed to the Government that if legal imports of Scotch whisky are permitted, the consumer would get the genuine stuff and the Government the revenue. ''As for us, we would get the opportunity of protecting our brands.'' The latest statistics on alcohol consumption in India are available from the Edinburgh-based SWA. With the country throwing open its doors to virtually everything, Scotch whisky is all set to come on official tap. With deals tentatively struck and in the process of being implemented, British drinks companies are waiting for the opportune moment to make their presence felt in India. Hong Kong-based Akram Fahmi, vice-president for new markets development of Seagram Spirits and Wines, said: ''The marriage season is the ideal time for us to introduce our products in India. A lot of drinking and merry-making goes on at these wedding dinners. India has changed so much.'' Mr Fahmi has played a catalytic role in bringing Scotch to India. Seagram was the first company to approach the Government for permission to distil and bottle Scotch whisky in the country. ''Honestly, it was a shot in the dark, and we were thrilled to get a positive response from the Government,'' he said. ''We will distil grain whisky in India and blend it with imported malt whisky.'' A similar sentiment is expressed by Ken Robertson, head of external affairs at United Distillers, manufacturer of the famous Johnnie Walker brands. The company has already signed a memorandum of understanding with United Breweries of the Vijay Mallya group to import what is the most sought-after Scotch in the country. The Scottish company has not yet made up its mind on its brand strategy, but is likely to bring all three of its brands (Blue, Black and Red) into India. ''We know Indians value Johnnie Walker, but we can only bottle it in Scotland and import it into India,'' said Mr Robertson. William Grant and Sons, distiller of the largest selling single malt Glenfiddich, is willing to bottle its popular blended whisky Grants in India. With a global decline in whisky sales, British distillers are looking to new markets, including India and China, to make up the shortfall. Sales to China jumped nearly tenfold in value and volume terms in the past two years, albeit from a small base.