Says whisky connoisseur Sandeep Arora on perfecting the art of the spirit, and bringing an international whisky bar to India
It’s not easy holding an audience after they’ve been given five free shots of whisky. But Sandeep Arora manages. The connoisseur was in the city for a whisky appreciation and food-pairing session held at the ITC Grand Central last week. “The number of years written on the bottle is not necessarily the age of the whisky. It means that the youngest whisky of that blend is that old,” he informs, before going on to tell everyone that not all blends and malts have to be served in flat glasses. “Some can also be served in champagne flutes and this (pointing to his flute) is deliberate.”
Last year, Arora set up a personalised service which allows patrons to call upon his expertise to set up a proper bar in their homes.
“We will design the bar on the basis of the personality of the person involved, how often he or she entertains guests, what kind of gatherings he or she hosts, followed by what alcohol is appropriate for what parties, how it should be served and what food it should be offered with it,” says Arora. In October, he is formally launching the Scottish concept of whisky tourism in India. “After all, we are the largest whisky drinking nation in the world; we consume 200 million cases every year.”
But what really has him occupied right now is another plan. “I have just signed the license to bring the biggest whisky bar in the world to India. It will either be in Delhi or Mumbai,” he says, insisting that this eatery — the first of its kind — will serve Scottish cuisine with the choicest spirits.
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No ice, please
“Whisky is all about taste. The best way the spirit will express itself is when you add a little water to it. It helps open up the whisky. This is the basic parameter. Adding ice is horrible. Add a little water to your whisky and watch the flavour-bearing aroma oils stir. They reach the top and that’s when you get a whiff of it. The ideal way is to keep adding a little water till the sharpness in the throat goes away. Adding too much water to whisky is like having ice-cold pizza or biryani with sambar. Eat protein rich food while drinking whisky. And drink lots of water.”
Serve it right
“The glass you serve the whisky in is critical when it comes to truly tasting it. Blends are best enjoyed in traditional glasses, while malts can be accessorised with glassware that allows nosing. Bourbons are considered more fun with mixers.”