The diwali flurry is just over, and I consider this a warmup to the festive season. So now, for the main race, here is a course map. Please chart your way forward responsibly.
I recently got to experience a stunning online tasting organised by Balblair and easily one of the most memorable events of 2021. We tasted four variants of this exquisite single malt which is even purer than my thoughts right at the point when I was born—no colour addition, no caveats, just age statements (12, 15, 18, and 25). John MacDonald, their distillery manager, showed four stylistically very different drams and gave us the story behind them all.
From Scotland to the US of A, bourbons continue to rule popularity charts. Sadly, we don’t have many in India (yet, and I believe this will change for the better real soon) but in the meantime we do have an exemplary brand—Wild Turkey. I’d tell you more about it but let me just throw in this little factoid. Did you know Matthew McConaughey is their creative director? Suddenly, nobody seems to want tasting notes anymore.
Meanwhile, Glenmorangie La Santa is taking wood finishes to a whole different planet. From sherry and sweet wine barrels to a Tokaji one (called, ‘Cake’) I just don’t know when to stop collecting them. And then there’s Ardbeg at the peatier end of the scale for those who like something that will, irrespective of gender, add a sexy husky note to your voice.
Closer to home, Royal Ranthambore, a blended whisky from the Radico Khaitan stable, is a step up to their game. Very sippable on its own and great with highballs, it is a fun affordable pour in exquisite packaging.
An “audacious” Cognac for all the right reasons, Martell is a lovely little number to sip on as the weather gets nippy. Martell VS is quite fruit-forward with layers of cream and some smoke; personally, I like to have it by itself with rich preparations or mixed with tonic water as a refreshing aperitif.
A lovely sip that is crisp and fruity, Mumm champagne works great to start an evening but equally well when paired with foods as diverse as sushi to kebabs and a wide array in between. The heavy proportion of reserve wines and the richness of Pinot Noir help achieve this unique versatility.
People, if you still buy club soda in any form (single use plastic bottles or cans) then please don’t invite me over ever. I fail to understand why everybody doesn’t just switch to Mr Butler—it makes better soda with a finer fizz that is more persistent and the whole thing is cheaper than the bottled commercial stuff. And it is a gazillion times better for the environment than anything else out there. So please, get with it and grab one.
Smoke Aniseed Vodka is homegrown brand doing some great stuff, and their aniseed vodka makes a good case for flavoured spirits which are great just with soda or can be made into cocktails. It’s a good one to have on your shelf and the premium packaging is never out of place.
Sepoy & Co makes a great tonic but its lemonades are equally attention-worthy. Good sober sips especially when nursing a hangover.
Personally, my best cure for a hangover is beer. Simba has been consistently present with their Wit and Stout and both deliver on the tactile front. I always have some at home and no I don’t believe that winters are not conducive to enjoying a cold brew. If anything, I find them even more refreshing.
The writer is a sommelier