It was the Irish who invented whiskey in the 10th century as a medicine. Their distilled and aged barley water proved so delicious that they named it uisge beatha or agua vitae (Latin: water of life). Since then, it has been the favourite of icons from Winston Churchill and Mark Twain to Frank Sinatra and Haruki Murakami.
For Jude de Souza, founder of The Revolver Club, it is the perfect drink for an evening of jazz. To mark World Whiskey Day today, the club will host a listening session of Prohibition-era jazz with a whiskey and barbeque tasting session in Bandra.
"Jazz music has a natural connection to whiskey," he explains. While the evening is more experiential than academic, de Souza says, "For music lovers, it is a nostalgic connection. The jazz renaissance of the Prohibition-era had a lot to do with the drink of whiskey that drew people to watering holes which moonlighted as liquor dens." From Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie to Miff Mole and Benny Goodman, the music will match the vintage taste of the spirit, he promises. "We want to create a vibe that people can enjoy while listening to the music," de Souza adds.
Gagan Sharma, certified sommelier and founder of Indulge India, explains the mystery of the drink to our amateur mind. "It has evolved with civilisation, and caused civilisation to evolve," he remarks. Having hosted several tasting sessions across the world, Sharma reveals that the Indian consumer is showing a growing interest in bourbon and aged American whiskeys, as well as the cask-aged ones.
To avoid a hangover of technical terms, we let the expert unravel the perfect whiskey for you to try out (see right).
On May 20; 8pm
At Veranda Rooftop, 331, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
Log on to revolverclub.com
Those seeking a little adventure should head East, says Sharma. The rise of Japanese and Indian whiskey is filled with delightful surprises.
. Toki (Japanese) for its subtle refined qualities.
Best served: With a dash of water or in a highball
. Gianchand (India) carries a sweetish, spicy taste.
Best served: Straight or on the rocks
If your palate is new to the spirit, Sharma recommends beginning with Irish whiskey. "They are lighter and
fruitier, and make for a good starting point," he remarks. American whiskeys are
also a good choice because they have a sweeter palate, he points out.
. Jameson (Irish) carries a light and fruity flavour which is popular among the youth.
Best served: With ginger ale
. Jim Beam (American) is a lighter, smooth and simple bourbon.
Best served: In an old-fashioned cocktail, or with cola or ginger ale
If your palate prefers a more advanced selection, there is a wide variety to choose from. "The complex flavours of scotch are a good choice," he notes, adding that they are best drunk neat or with a dash of water. To our surprise, he cites that whiskey etiquette is to mainly drink it neat. "We tend to prefer it on the rocks or with cold cola because of the warm weather," he explains. Peated whiskeys are also growing in popularity, Sharma points out. With complex and refined flavours, they suit the advanced palate.
. Woodford Reserve (American) is a twice-barreled matured bourbon.
Best served: Neat
. Woodburns (India) carries a full-bodied, smoky flavour.
Best served: Neat
. Laphroaig 10 years (Scotch, peated) with its medicinal, smoky flavour.
Best served: Straight or with a dash of water
. Glenfiddich 15 (Scotch) is a matured single malt with a complex aroma.
Best served: Neat
1. Whiskey sour
Sometimes called a Boston sour, it is traditionally made using Scotch, lemon juice, sugar and a dash of egg white to go.
2. Old-fashioned whiskey
A traditional whiskey cocktail made with bitters, soda water and an orange garnish on top.
3. Whiskey highball
Created in the 1900s, it combines whiskey with soda water or ginger ale and a lemon garnish.