I always loathe that humans are a slothful lot and the only reason we show ingenuity in our inventions is to find new ways to propagate our lazy lifestyles. All modern inventions reek of our longing for comforts that nature didn’t intend, but we so desire. From refrigerators to automatic flush systems, everything is one big propaganda to help us plod through life slower than otherwise.
But amidst all the so-called loathing, I never once stop to embrace this culture of comfort. It’s ironic that I like being served only because I find myself a slave to my senses, which are being rendered senile before their time all thanks to comforts. A recent bout of laze-ridden lounging was a particularly enjoyable one. I was asked to fly down to Mumbai for a tasting of a new single malt to be launched in Scotland. The master distiller, I was told, would be conducting the event personally. Bill Lumsden is the anti-thesis of master distillers—he’s young, clean-shaven, and witty—so I, the self-styled anti-thesis of anything active, decided to willingly make this trudge, which involved one nasty airport with musty carpets and an uncouth crowd and a city with traffic that you grow old waiting in. I reached Mumbai and was swiftly whisked off to the Four Seasons hotel, the one hotel that seems to conduct more than your regular share of high-profile beverage events. A lovely lunch followed with Glenmorangie aplenty (some exclusive variants were served too) and I quietly complied. And then on cue, we were ushered into the adjacent room with a round-table set-up and a very large screen at one end. I imagined that Lumsden, who was conspicuous by his absence during the meal, would magically appear now and show us a presentation on the new spirit.
All that did happen. He appeared magically on the screen and he was the presentation! Except that it wasn’t a recorded monologue. He was being streamed live across three countries and people like us were gathered around in rooms in Sydney and Seoul as well watching this presentation. This was technology and it wasn’t being lazy. It was practical. And saving us the guilt of carbon miles. But more than all that, it was an exciting new format. We would be tasting the same single malt here in this room in Mumbai as Lumsden took his glass and brought it to his lips.
I was clearly not the only one in the room impressed, cameras phones were out everywhere streaming this live on to various social media platforms, and hearts and likes were pouring in. The event was, as current terminology would suggest, somewhat going viral. What a novel way to conduct a launch. Sure, we will have the master distiller visit us later in the year, but save for his actual physical presence, this was no different. We asked questions (India asked more astute ones than Korea, and Australia was somehow just inaudible) and got answers live in a face-to-face interaction. And we got to taste the new whisky of the hour: the limited-edition Bacalta by Glenmorangie. Finished in Madeira casks, the notes and flavours are reminiscent of this ‘cooked’ wine from Portugal. Bacalta is Gaelic for baked, which is quite the apt name then. The whisky was ripe, powerful, creamy, unctuous and lasting.
I admit that this is not the first time I have tasted a product in this ‘live and online’ manner. Some very fine Italian wines had been launched across eight international cities last year similarly, but I was the only one privy to it from India. Here, we were a roomful of enthusiasts in a cushy five-star hotel enjoying a fine meal and a dram, and acting as if nothing wasn’t commonplace about tasting a whisky with a gentleman sitting 4,000 miles away! A small thank you to the local Moet-Hennessy team, which clearly did a far outstanding job of an organisation than their counterparts in Seoul or Sydney.
Well, if this is the future of lazy, sign me up. And while at it, set a bottle of the Bacalta by the bedside, so that I don’t have to reach for it too far. It is expensive, but nothing prohibitive as bottles that brandish the words ‘limited-edition’ on them.
The writer is a sommelier