Speyside tipples

Published: Feb 12, 2020, 07:00 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

The Dram Club will host a day-long whiskey appreciation event as forerunner for Scotland's annual Speyside Whiskey Festival

From April 29 to May 4, Speyside in Scotland, where the River Spey carves its way from the Cairngorm Mountain National Park down to the golden sandy beaches on the Moray Firth coast in Scotland, 3,000 whiskey enthusiasts will converge to witness the Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival. It is the biggest whiskey festival of the world, which spans over six days with 700 events in 50 distilleries. "Over the past few years, we have seen a growing number of people coming from India to visit Scotland and the distilleries," says James Campbell, founder of the festival.

This year, 11,000 enthusiasts will witness a taste of the festival in their own countries through pre-events. The Dram Club, a whiskey and spirits appreciation community which launched last year, will host the first event in India at The Park in Juhu on February 15.

James Campbell (left, facing) at a session

The founders of The Dram Club, Swati Sharma and Vinayak Singh, decided to host the event in Mumbai after they visited the festival last year. "Their understanding of whiskey is so nuanced. They touch upon expression, cask and barrel in thorough detail. It was an eye-opener. In a blind tasting, most of the times people end up liking lesser-known whiskies," says Sharma. Apart from tastings of eight Speyside whiskies picked by a jury as contenders in four categories whose winners will be announced in April, this day-long event will see an opening lunch, blind whiskey tastings, and sessions including GlenGrant whiskey with dessert pairing and an Amrut masterclass.

Opening lunch
On the day, chef Sarita Pereira, founder, The Lovefools, a secr­et supper club in Bandra, has cu­rated a four-course opening lunch with a 12, 15, 18, 21 year old Glenlivet. "From pairing a whiskey with floral and nutty flavours, with a molasses butter, sourdough and truffle brie. I have also put together creamy with nutty undertones of another whiskey with mushroom and macadamia flavours. Another whiskey that has notes of chewy sultanas and sherried peels, gets a touch of apple caramelised miso. I'm also flaming a ramen with whiskey."

Guide(From left) Swati Sharma and Vinayak Singh

Master classes

Master distiller Michael D'Souza will conduct a session for Paul John, while Angad Singh Gandhi, brand ambassador, India, Glenfiddich, will lead the guests through the history and philosophy of whiskey-making with a selection of some of the finest malts from this distillery. Speaking about their whiskey preference trends in India, Gandhi points to experimentation with cask finishes. "A growing phenomenon in the whiskey industry is special cask finishes. Increasingly, distilleries are moving on from traditional cask finishes and experimenting with casks that were earlier used for wine, cognac, wine, champagne, etc," says Gandhi, who will be conducting a masterclass at the event.

GuideBenromach Sassicaia Wood, GlenDronach Peated and Cragganmore 12 Year Old

Single malts continue to be relevant over the years in India. "Indians are a versatile target group and enjoy both rich-peaty whiskies as well as fruity ones. More and more women are joining the single malt community not just as consumers but also as distillers, enthusiasts, brand ambassadors and bartenders, making them a vital part of the community," explains Gandhi.

Down the myths

  • Single malt means all the whiskey in the bottle came from one cask.
  • Older Is Better: There is no such rule that says that an 18-year-old is better than a 15-year-old. Wood/ barrel plays a significant role in the character of a whisky. During maturation, the oak barrels will influence the native flavours of the spirit. Excessive ageing can sometimes take away from a whiskey's flavour profile and balance.
  • Whiskey is not made from barley alone. It also uses rye, corn, oat and wheat.

ON February 15, 12.30 pm
AT The Park, Juhu.
LOG ON TO insider.in
Cost Rs 5,000 onwards

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