Rohan Bharadwaj, APAC ambassador of Grant’s whisky, talks about the famous cocktails and how much you know about them.
Whisky has this incorrect, outdated and old fashioned image of being consumed by lanky old men and purists in cigar rooms. Instead, the drink is being consumed by well-travelled millennials of all genders. Exposure to different cultures and information is the key reason for the way the younger generation is drinking this alcohol, assumed to go best with ice and water, in cocktails too. In the US, women now make up to 37 per cent of consumers and almost a third of whisky drinkers in the UK. Even in India, women have shown a rise in the consumption of the alcohol, be it in the form of a cocktail or on its own.
You don’t really have to be well-travelled as access to global cultures, eating habits and drinking trends are now so easily available on the internet for us to play around with. The privilege of having information has exposed millennials to trends from around the globe and it would be correct to say that we are now more experimental with our choice of what goes into our bellies. We in India are now opening up to drinking whisky in cocktails, mixers like apple juice and ginger ale which was not the case just a decade ago. This is definitely encouraging.
While hosting a tasting event at a golf club in India, I introduced the Grant’s & Ginger Ale cocktail to veteran whisky drinkers only to find them pleasantly surprised. None of them had tried it before as most of them enjoyed their whisky with water and ice. Now I’m not saying that is not the correct way of drinking whisky but their reaction and surprise on how well whisky goes with ginger ale was just as refreshing as the drink itself.
A crucial reason why the alcohol is being experimented with is also because the consumers are more discerning and open to experimentation with their food and drink choices. Access to different cultures has opened up people to variety, be it in their choice of fashion, living standard or drinks and food.
You go to any bar in India and you will see an equal number of whisky cocktails being served along with vodka and gin.
It is a base spirit with a wide range of flavours that makes it possible to pair it before, with and after dinner as well. Depending on where the whisky comes from, it can have a flavour profile, ranging from sweet to spicy to earthy smoky notes.
It goes well with seafood, cheese, chocolates, sushi and a varied range of Indian delicacies. For instance, whisky with just a few drops of water, goes very well with a lot of tandoori food as it balances the smokiness and acidity extremely well.
Whiskies of Scotland
Whisky is produced all over Scotland but most of the brands that we see at bars come from four major whisky-producing regions – The Highlands, Speyside, Islay and The Lowlands. Each region produces a different style and character of whisky.
Speyside, which is the undisputed centre for Scottish whisky, has fruity and sweet characteristics. Think of icons like Glenfiddich which is renowned all over the world for its pear, apple and toffee notes.
Highland whiskies are more full-bodied, nutty and spicy in character. This is a big whisky-producing region, so there is a range of varietals. Think of notes of honey, spice and heather. If you go to northern Highlands you’re very likely to find whiskies which would give you lovely top notes of peat but an underlying oakiness and fruitiness to your whisky.
Lowlands are not one of the biggest whisky producing regions in Scotland but produce a unique type. Most are very easy on the palate.
Think of the elegant floral notes with a balance of citrus, honey and cereal topped up with a very smooth and mellow finish.
Islay: Often the victim of incorrect pronunciation, it is actually pronounced as ‘eye-lah.’ Peat is the characteristic of this beautiful part on the west of Scotland. Islay malts are more pungent, heavily peated compared to your speyside or highland whiskies with notes of smoke, brine, and hint of seal salt that intrigues your palate.
There is no set way of drinking whisky and I encourage people to enjoy it the way they like, especially in a cocktail or a mixer like Ginger Ale and Apple. For me, it is the most versatile hard drink out there that offers a wide range of flavours. Balancing the flavours with the right mixture in a cocktail can make the varied notes stand out.
My cocktail choice depends upon the time of the day, the occasion and the place I am at. If I’m home just on a day-off relaxing with my friends, we make sure we buy some ginger ale from the local shop and it’s time for G&Gs (Grant’s & Ginger ale) over some ice.
It really is a great afternoon-evening drink to beat the hot and humid conditions and best enjoyed with friends because it is so simple to make and yet so delicious. If at a bar post 11 pm (which does happen frequently with my kind of job), I love my Grant’s old fashioned or a Grant’s Blood and Sand.
Writer: Rohan Bharadwaj
Courtesy: The Pioneer