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June 20, 2024

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A Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky Accessories

My first interaction with Vaniitha Jaiin was at a tasting event hosted by The Macallan in Mumbai earlier this year. Vivacious and infectious with energy, she asked me, a perfect stranger, “So, what are we drinking today!”. My own taste is unfortunately rather faint for a neat glass of single malt but Jaiin had no qualms sniffing and sipping gracefully from her tumbler, laughing and unfazed. I hope to one day drink whisky in this way, not just undeterred by its potency but also very much delighting in it. Until then, if the Cosmos work for Carrie Bradshaw, then the Cosmos work for me. Jaiin told me about her interest in spirits that I later learned was a gross understatement. After years of a life and a half in the corporate world, Jaiin decided to pursue an intensive wine and spirits programs in London and with a luxury brand management degree in tow, she finally founded The Perfect Pour.

Image from The Perfect PourHarmonising her classroom knowledge with real world practices, Vaniitha Jain now runs a leading consulting arm in the field of alcobev. As a prominent name in the industry, she has served as an international wine and spirits judge, and has also been a columnist for leading publications on this topic. With her passion for whisky and dedication to shaping the industry, Jaiin’s insights into whisky appreciation have been invaluable to connoisseurs and novices alike.

A keen eye on the future of the wine and spirits space in India, Jaiin is committed to curating bespoke experiences, providing brand consulting, and conducting training and research. As someone who has successfully launched her own D2C collection of handcrafted crystal wine and whisky glassware I thought it fit to craft a guide to whisky accessories: what they do, what to look out for, what to avoid, and what to buy. “The way one drinks whisky,” Jaiin emphasises, “… has an influence on the flavour and aromas right when you take the very first sip.”

Whisky Decanters

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A good whisky decanter is a true showstopper that demands attention. These elegant vessels not only showcase your prized spirits but also allow them to breathe and evolve, unveiling their most captivating nuances. Look for decanters with intricate patterns, timeless designs, and quality craftsmanship that can refract the rich, warm hues of the liquid gold inside. As the whisky breathes, unveiling its aromas, the decanter becomes more than just a container – it’s a stage where the art of whisky appreciation takes centre stage. Choose a decanter that reflects your style and sophistication, transforming each pour into a moment of pure indulgence. 

Vaniitha Recommends:

Waterford Crystal

Riedel

Baccarat

Nachtmann

Dartington X Vaniitha Jaiin

[Please Note: International brands like Riedel, Baccarat, you may have to purchase them when travelling abroad.]

 

Whisky Stones/Chillers

Image from Viski

Savouring your whisky at the perfect temperature elevates one’s drinking experience by a mile. Crafted from naturally occurring materials like soapstone or innovative non-porous surfaces like granite, whisky stones chill your dram without diluting its flavours. It is key to look for stones that retain their cool temperature for an extended period and are easy to clean.  

Vaniitha Recommends:

Teroforma

Viski

Bar Box

Georg Jensen

[Please Note: International brands like Teroforma and Viski are currently not available in India, but you can purchase them when travelling abroad.]

 

Whisky Droppers/Pipettes

Image from Angel’s Share

Unlock the intricacies of your favourite dram with the utmost precision using whisky droppers and pipettes. Flavours in whisky tend to dissolve far too effectively in ethanol and hence get locked away in the micelles. By using these tools to add water with pinpoint precision, you can disrupt part of the micelles giving way for strong flavour compounds that were once hidden from your senses to reveal themselves. Any dropper you purchase should have precise measurement markings and be made from durable, high-quality materials. 

Vaniitha Recommends:

Angel’s Share Glass

Glencairn Crystal

 

Whisky Nosing Glasses

Image from Nude

Embrace the art of whisky appreciation with vessels specially designed for tasting and nosing. These glasses are not mere containers but canvases upon which the flavours are meant to be truly savoured. Exquisitely crafted to enhance aroma and taste, they promise an elevated experience with every dram. Look for glasses with a tulip shape or curved bowl that concentrates the aromas, and a narrow rim for optimal nosing. Each curve and contour is designed to amplify the spirit’s nuances, inviting you to fully immerse yourself in the intricate character that lies within. These glasses aren’t mere receptacles; they’re gateways to pure indulgence.  

Vaniitha Recommends:

Norlan

Nude

Shaze

 

Whisky Decanter Labels

Image from Vagabond House

For those who appreciate the finer details, these exquisite decanter labels offer a touch of personalisation, allowing you to proudly display the provenance of your prized spirits by adding a layer of distinction to your collection. Crafted by skilled artisans, each label is a miniature masterpiece, adorned with intricate engravings or embellishments that reflect the noble heritage of the whisky it represents. These labels transform each decanter into a unique vessel that tells a story of its own. 

Vaniitha Recommends:

Vagabond House

Asprey

 

Whisky Serving Trays

Image from Good Earth

The presentation of an indulgent drink like whisky feels almost as important as the taste itself. Through presentation, you can transform the simple act of pouring into a ritual of refinement. Adorned with intricate designs and superior craftsmanship, these trays create a captivating tableau for your whisky experience. Look for trays with sturdy construction, unique patterns, and ample space to hold your decanters and glassware. Imagine placing your finest decanters and glassware atop a tray that exudes timeless style, its ornate carvings or sleek lines complementing the rich hues of the whisky within. Each tray is a masterpiece in its own right, crafted to enhance the visual appeal of your whisky presentation while providing a stable and stylish surface for your treasured spirits. 

Vaniitha Recommends:

Ralph Lauren Home

Good Earth

 

Whisky Barrel Bar Cabinets

Image from Timothy Oulton

Picture the commanding sight of a cabinet carved from an authentic whisky barrel, its rich patina and intricate details paying homage to the spirit’s noble heritage. For the true whisky aficionado, a whisky barrel bar cabinet is the ultimate statement piece. Crafted from genuine whisky barrels, these cabinets add a touch of heritage to your home bar. Look for cabinets with ample storage space and intricate details that showcase craftsmanship and artistry.  These masterpieces, meticulously crafted by artisans of the highest calibre, store your collection in style but also serve as conversation starters, inviting fellow whisky appreciators to recognise the passion and expertise that surrounds the world of whisky. 

Vaniitha Recommends:

Timothy Oulton

Jonathan Charles Fine Furniture

[Please Note: These international brands are currently not available in India, but you can purchase them when travelling abroad.]

 

Whisky Books

Image from Amazon

For true connoisseurs, exploring the world of whisky goes beyond just taste. It starts with cracking open a book on whisky, where you uncover stories rich in history and expertise. These books extend far beyond tasting notes—they reveal the secrets of whisky-making, helping readers to understand the flavours, distillation techniques, and cultural heritage behind each sip.

Through the lens of these literary works, enthusiasts are transported to the distilleries of Scotland, the bourbon warehouses of Kentucky, and the emerging craft scenes around the globe. With each turn of the page, they are introduced to the pioneers and innovators who have shaped the whisky industry, learning from their experiences and insights.

But it’s more than just reading—it’s a sensory experience. With each description of flavour profiles, nosing techniques, and food pairings, one develops a deeper connection to whisky. It is then that they begin to understand the subtle interplay of ingredients, aging processes, and environmental factors that contribute to the complexity of each whisky expression.

Vaniitha Recommends:

  • “Whisky: The Manual” by Dave Broom: A comprehensive guide to understanding and appreciating whisky, covering its history, production methods, and tasting techniques.
  • “A Field Guide to Whisky: An Expert Compendium to Take Your Passion and Knowledge to the Next Level” by Hans Offringa: An informative guide to navigating the world of whisky, featuring distillery profiles, tasting notes, and expert advice.
  • “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey” by Fred Minnick: An insightful exploration of the pivotal role women have played in shaping the whiskey industry, showcasing their contributions and stories.

Zara Flavia Dmello

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