Gulping down whisky is what we always do isn't it?Because most of us drink to get drunk :)
But suppose today you are told that whiskey does have a taste and flavor that you might cherish neat without a drop of coke or water,many of you will think I am mad.Today I am beginning to evolve this definition of my madness as It used to be to sophistication where I drink whiskey to enjoy and so can you.
Won't it burn is what you will ask me?Not until you gulp it down all at once.What happens is before whiskey we already usually have had some food,so our palette is not adapted to the taste of whiskey as and when it comes,so always the first palette of whiskey is not ready yet.However after rolling around your tongue like a chewing gum,slow and easy,take a sip,sit back and relax and you will be talking to the flavors of whiskey.Quite literally.
As it is said in the world of whiskies,
One man's whiskey is not another man's whisky.
Presented by the Pillars of Whisky Industry 'Amrut Distillery' which has won numerous awards worldwide and also winning the third best whiskey in the world,Whiskey Tasting Event was organized at The Glass House,Bangalore.Now this place is all Glass.It's beautiful.Owned by Rohit who owns a couple of other restaurants such as City Bar,Zaffran,Kobe Sizzlers,
Glass House has cuisine which is inspired European,so its no surprise if you suddenly develop liking for Mango Chicken or Goat Cheese Balls.
A Blind Date With Whiskies Begins
Today was the day of blind whisky tasting.On a bitter note,we hardly knew that these whiskies are a boutique brand from Bangalore and world famous.For the bitterness of whiskies most of us complain about,the bitterness comes from the oak and there are varieties some of which includes caramel,bananas and even anise!Not every whiskey is bitter.
Ashok from Amrut Whisky told us that Amrut started as Amrut lab which slowly evolved over time.The fact that there was this whiskey tasting by Glasgow where they had 800 whiskies from various countries,couldn't recognize the country from which the samples of Amrut were placed.90% of them answered it as Scottish from the Spey Side because of its fruitiness,1% said Irish but none said India.That gave them the drive further to build their identity.Today,the highest consumer of whiskey is from India.
Beginning with the tasting event,I like the fact that it was very fair and done with an open mind.The tumblers were being arranged in Chronological order without names and it was us,who were going to decide what smell do we get what flavors we get and does it last long on our palette or washes off also called the finish.We pretended to be judges in our own right where we were each scoring the blind whiskies.The ones we were tasting had 40-45% alcohol wooh!
The shape of tumbler is such as the flavors are then concentrated.
Nosing And Sipping:The Slow Process of Sophistication We Skip
The first step to tasting any whisky is the smell.First with the first nose and then with the second.As it is said,for everyone a particular nostril is better than the other.For example,A European guy,he is used to strawberry unlike us who get oranges in plenty,the smell to the European guy if citrus might relate to berries more.After you have smelt it once,hold the glass from the bottom with the palm and enclose the top with your other hand.This technique passes the body heat into the glass and the temperature of the whiskey is raised adding onto completely different flavors.
The names of the whiskies were identified later
Like for the whisky no 1 we got flavors of fruity woody citrus while nosing for the first time while
toffee,chocolate,cinnamon spicy while nosing for the second time.It had a bit of taste of plum and apples.The second whiskey has tinges of Anise,Vanilla,Licorice,Honeycomb while nosing and vanilla was more dominant on the palette for the second time which had tinges of spiciness and orange.This one had an aftertaste of saltiness or tamarind and was more complex than the previous one.
Whiskey is a choice.In Scandinavia,people don't want to drink any other whiskey unless Smokey.
The third whisky had citrus,nutmeg while nosing and smokiness dancing due to peat on our palette.
A whisky on a palette is harsh when either the strength of alcohol is high or spirit is not mature enough. Amrut whiskies are made in oak barrel to make it mellow and this creates more character inside the cask over the period of maturation.
Types of Whisky,Peat and Influence of Water
Whiskies are divided into three types - single malt,blended and woven.The woven whiskies are the ones made in the state of Kentucky in America.Single malt whisky has 100% malted barley,water and yeast and its distilled and kept in oak barrel for min 3 years.Blended whiskies which are the most popular and cheaper have 100% malted barley and other cereals like corn,wheat etc.
Now in the above mentioned third whiskey I mentioned peat.Peat moss is nothing but an old plant vegetation formed over millions of years and then discharges carbon with moisture.In old days,Scotland used to use peat as fossil fuel for burning.During the maturing process of barley there are two methods to remove moisture one by hot air and another by burning the peat.
The fourth one has nosing flavor as banana and was sweet and smooth.The fifth one had nosing flavors as caramel and banana and was smoky on the palette.While the last one was too peaty yet fruitfully well balanced.
My favorites were 4-5 and one turned out to be Amrut Fusion.The real test was a win-win! We knew what we had,what we like and how to have it.
The whiskey for the first time,though neat didn't taste bitter,all we had to know was how to drink it in a proper way !