Why would a wine maker foray into the whisky space? To give it a twist!
"We've always wanted to offer something new to our consumers and therefore Eclipse is crafted with a twist, with the addition of a matured Grape Spirit and blended with peated malt and scotch," Yogesh Mathur, Vice President, Artisan Spirits Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of Sula Vineyards, told IANS as World Whisky Day was celebrated on Saturday (May 20).
"So, even though Sula has ventured into the whisky market, we have successfully managed to keep our feet firm to our roots. In this cluttered beverage market, Eclipse is clearly a stand-out from the crowd as being the only whisky in the market produced with matured grape spirits, leaving a smooth and lasting flavour of fruits and vanilla on the palate," he added.
What else can one expect in the whisky space in the year ahead?
"There seems to be a growing trend of whisky cocktails, which is very exciting. In general, the way in which whisky is consumed these days is more relaxed -- acceptable neat, with ice, with mixers and in cocktails - whatever consumers prefer," Caroline Martin, the master blender for Diageo's Signature whisky, told IANS in an email interaction.
Don't many consider it sacrilegious to use whisky, particularly single malts, as a base for cocktails?
"I agree it's sacrilege and so we used the Glennfiddich 12 (instead of a higher-end single malt). Why not experiment? Not everyone is a purist," Chef Manish Mehrohtra had previously told IANS at a tony food-tasting event.
So, enter the Monkey Thandai, with the base being Monkey Shoulder, a free-spirited, fun-loving three-malt blend with an easygoing smooth, rich and mellow vanilla deliciousness. Quite faddish it has become for the Indian summer drinker.
To get back to Martin, how does one describe a whisky drinker?
"In my opinion, people who are new to whisky prefer accessible flavours, whereas adorers of whisky are more open to more robust flavours.
"I think this very much depends on the occasion to some extent. Consumers will choose what they want to drink depending on what they want to get from it. It's important, therefore, to ensure consumers are given a broad range of whiskies to choose from -- in terms of flavour/price and the like -- so that their drink of choice is always a whisky," she added.
What then, at the bottom line, drives the whisky market in India?
"India is the world's biggest whisky market and that makes it a fantastic place for us to do business. One of the biggest trends we are currently seeing in India is the rise of a cocktail culture in whisky," James Pennefather, Managing Director, William Grant & Sons India, told IANS.
He attributed this to three factors.
"Bartenders with better skills, an increasingly vibrant bar scene plus drinkers with an international outlook who are looking for different drinks' experiences."
"Through our investment in mixology initiatives such as our current 'Summer Tails' activations in bars and programmes such as the Ultimate Bartender Challenge have helped develop bartenders' skills further," Pennefather added.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at email@example.com)
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