The past few weeks have been particularly rich when it comes to new beverages being launched in the country.
The Diwali season is truly India’s Christmas unless, of course you, like me, also celebrate Christmas, in which case, you have two super festive occasions to look forward to.
For me, celebration is about togetherness, about sharing and partaking food and drink. The past few weeks have been particularly rich when it comes to new beverages being launched in the country. There has never been a better time to celebrate the ‘Make in India’ movement than now. Otherwise put, I can come up with some really innovative reasons to justify opening up a bottle on Monday at 10 am.
Stranger & Sons: This may not be entirely new, but is, by far, the finest gin to come out of India, and your next trip to Goa would be incomplete without a bottle of this being brought back to impress the social circle. Aromatic and balanced, lovely with tonic, or by itself on ice.
Kati Patang: A new beer and, unlike the hordes before it, one that is treading a different path. Instead of launching with a wheat and lager, they have put forth a lovely ruby on the market (which is more ale in style). Made well and true to the style, it is a lovely sip for those who crave a good fresh pint.
Mad King: This very ornately-labelled beer is a fresh take on the Belgian Witbier and lager styles. Their aromatised wheat and the punchy (hoppy) lager are a welcome addition to our shelves. Technically, this beer is made in Belgium, but sticks with an Indian recipe, so I guess we can claim some Indian connection here.
Eight Finger Eddie: Goa is never known to do things shyly and this beer is a bold IPA from India’s beach state, named as a tribute to the original American hippie who made Goa his home. Like its eponymous protagonist, this IPA stands to enrich Goa with a unique flavour—it is pretty true to style, a fairly session-able IPA, which makes it a great brew for beachside bumming.
Hopper: Much like Mad King, Hopper is based out of India, but brewed in Belgium. A crisp fresh Witbier and a smooth lager are the signature styles of this brand. At the recently held Oktoberfest event in Delhi, they showcased a bevvy of many other beer brands, which will soon join Hopper in India.
Aberlour: These double-cask aged single malts are quite exquisite and this one marries fruity crispness with some savoury dryness and a touch of cocoa on the finish. Definitely subtle and classic in its taste profile, a splash of water can really open up the aromas on this.
Ballantine’s Single Malt Glenburgie 15: From a brand that has long been known for its blended whisky now comes a super-special aged single malt (from Glenburgie). The decade-and-a-half-old spirit is smooth, silky and resplendent, with an almost honey-like sweetness that lingers on well after the sip. No dilution needed, just cool it slightly and enjoy neat.
Singleton of Glendullan: In case you didn’t know it, the Singleton isn’t one single whisky. Sorry, bad pun. There are many single malts that come under the Singleton nomenclature. Earlier, we had the Glen Ord and now we have the Glendullan releasing sometime January 2019. It is a lighter-style malt, aged in both American and European oak, and holds a deft balance between the sweet fruits and the dry spices.
White Walker: For lovers of good ol’ Johnnie, here’s something new to look forward to. This limited-edition packaging is a tribute to the TV show Game of Thrones. Fans of Scotch and the show will enjoy this unusual blend, which requires you to serve it straight from the freezer—the best way to enjoy its caramel-laced and vanilla-scented bouquet. Even the empty bottle is something to cherish: the temperature-sensitive ink on the side reveals a message for GoT fans.
Malabar Secrets: In case this homework list gets too heavy for you, take resort in the range of alcohol-free bitters that have just been launched by Malabar Secrets. They are great infusions with water or soda, and can even make for a wonderful tonic to accompany your gins. What I liked most about them was that they managed to play strong Indian spices in delicate balance, considering how easy it is to go overboard with the cardamom and saffron (and most mixologists sadly do). These, by contrast, were far gentler and yet distinct enough.
The writer is a sommelier