One of the pioneers of whisky business in India, Sandeep Arora gave LuxeBook all the gyaan on peated whisky, at an exclusive whisky, scotch and food pairing event, The Peat Palate by Beam Suntory at Sofitel Mumbai BKC in association with Arora’s Spirits and Rituals.
Consumers have recently started experimenting with whiskies and peated whisky is leading the pack.
In its essence, peated whiskies have a natural smoky flavour. It is derived from a fuel called peat, which is found in Scotland, mainly from the Lowlands, Speyside, Highlands, Islay and Campbeltown. Each region boasts of a distinct flavour, ranging from light and seasonal to sweet and caramel tones.
Whisky culture in India
Whisky is the preferred spirit of India, a nation where scotch whisky leads the market but a premium Indian whisky like Amrut is not far behind. The Indian whisky market has become experimental and is open to a mix selection of Bourbons, Irish, Japanese and all the world whiskies. The country’s whisky culture is evolving significantly, where a whisky remix or simply whisky cocktail is gaining popularity, says Arora. Millennials, experienced consumers and premium restaurants and bars contribute largely to the popularity of whisky cocktails, lending a new palate to whisky in India.
“Whisky is a huge universe. Whisky cocktails and whisky as a lifestyle are both becoming predominant factors in the Indian scenario. This culture is driven by what the consumer wants to enjoy,” says Arora.
India captures the top spot as the world’s largest whiskey consuming nation, known to produce more than 300 million cases of whisky and consume about 53 per cent of world’s whisky. Essentially, age, taste palate, cost, and the style of consumption drive the whisky narrative. “For many years, Indians used to consume largely Indian whiskeys and occasionally a very few would look at BIO (bottled in origin) brands, which are imported brands.” The early 90s witnessed an influx of international brands, which finally in 2000s led to the popularity of rare whiskies and single malts as cultural and lifestyle concepts.
The interest graph for peated whiskies has been positive with the consumers.
Whisky and food pairing
Pairing food with whisky demands a refined sense of flavours. Scotland and America were among the first to embrace the idea of pairing whisky and food together. Sandeep Arora, who has engaged in curation of more than 1500 menus in the last 15 years brought the concept of food and whisky pairing to India in 2007. It started with an eleven-course pairing of eleven whiskies and eleven types of dishes.
He says, “The idea is not to intimidate a person, but to ensure that, both, food and whisky are in harmony with each other.” Balance and subtlety of flavours along with food texture play a prominent role in rendering a perfect dining experience.
Indian barbecue and western grills go very well with the Ardmore Legacy, whereas a dish like Murgh Malai kebab retains is paired best with a pour of Macallan 12-year-old. Trying smoked cheese with Laphroaig 10-year-old and crème brulee with Dalwhinnie 15 year old makes for a very sophisticated choice.