Welcome to a little nostalgia for a few exceptional evenings gone by… a light tripping through a malty memory lane… with a focus on events that expanded understanding, industry connects and some pretty great malts too!
Let’s start by re-winding the clock to the year our original Mumbai tasting group formed. It was February, our inaugural evening was hosted at BlueFrog’s private alcove above the recording studio. We were
#1 – Glenfarclas Mumbai Special 12 year, 105, 21 and 40 year
Later that year we were invited to attend a tasting led by the family own distillery’s George S Grant – a remarkable evening that closed with the Glenfarclas 40 year!
It cemented an appreciation for not only for the whisky but the stories that go with its making – without a doubt it was the stand-out experience of the year!
2012 – 2013
As a tasting group, we began to find our grove with monthly sessions and it became clear who would remain as regular members. We shifted from random contributions to themes hosted in homes as increasing effort and creativity went into sourcing something interesting to share with other members.
This was also the period I went from occassionally jotting down impressions to regularly crafting tasting notes which I posted on my other blog Everyday Asia.
#2 – Jameson Original, 12, Gold Reserve, 18 year, Green Spot + Redbreast
As for memorable event? I will always have a soft spot for the Jameson lads (and hopefully lasses to come too!) who make their way as brand ambassadors to India. In large part this is due to the convivial evening held at one of our members homes in 2013 where they shared insights into the Irish whisky industry, tall tales and good dram or two, augmented by a few more we added to round out the evening.
This was a stand-out year for more than one reason! It would be impossible to limit to a single event. When I look back, I realise this was the pivotal year that opened the most doors to industry insights and introductions. By late 2014, it was clear I was ‘hooked’ on exploring and sharing such experiences, with the birth of this blog the outcome!
#3 – Amrut with Jim Murray (compliments Amrut)
Beyond our regular tasting sessions, I experienced the massive “show” that is a Jim Murray event – in this case sponsored by Amrut. It was memorable but not necessarily for the right reasons!
#4 – Glenmorangie (with Bill Lumsden)
In complete contrast, I was invited to attend an event in Delhi and interview Bill Lumsden for Man’s World. The event? Glenmorangie’s celebration of their prestige line with Glenmorangie’s 18 year, 25 year and Signet expressions. Each was perfectly paired and a true class act.
#5 – Balblair 03, Old Pulteney 12 year, Speyburn 10 year
This was followed a few months later by a master class with Stuart Harvey. Again – full of stories, insights, good company and a most enjoyable dram or two, three with a bonus!
#6 – Whisky Ladies with Karen Walker – Caorunn gin, Balblair 03, Old Pulteney 12 year, Speyburn 10 year, AnCnoc 12 + 22 year
Then an evening with Karen Walker, when she was Global Marketing Head for Invers House for the newly formed Whisky Ladies of Mumbai.
#7 – Mumbai Malt Maniacs Rare Malts – Auchentoshan 40% (1980s), Port Ellen 26 year 1982 50%, Lagavulin 16 year 43% (1980s)
Each experience added a layer and being introduced to India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula was and remains a true gift. His 20th anniversary celebration of Malt Maniacs in Mumbai with Rare Malts from the 1980s was an eye opener to a different ‘style’. Krishna’s knowledge and passion is immense, his ability to discern such nuances and details from a few good whiffs and just a sip is astounding!
By 2016, I was part of 3 tasting groups who regularly ‘fed’ my habit! We had several stand-out evenings and I was consistently impressed with the growing quality and variety of themes. I was also invited to ‘crash’ a private whisky tasting in my home town Winnipeg’s “The Cabinet”.
Some are surprised it took so long, but 2016 was the 1st time I went on a distillery tour. Clearly I’ve not taken a ‘typical’ path as it wasn’t Scotland… nope! Instead it was Gimli, Manitoba, Canada at Crowne Royal’s plant.
#8 – Whisky Live Survival Guide + Collector’s Room –Benromach, Bruichladdich, Kavalan, Nikka, Old Pulteney, Port Askaig, Teeling, Rum + Whisky Masterclass with Luca Gargano + Dave Broom
As for a remarkable event? Without a doubt it was my 1st Whisky Live Singapore experience. I loved everything about it – from the Collector’s Room to masterclasses to engaged conversations with industry experts on the tasting floor. None of the subsequent WhiskyLive’s lived up to this one.
The year started with a trip to Goa, India with a Michael personally giving a tour of Paul John distillery, showing plans for their visitor centre, insights into upcoming expressions, etc.
Mid-year on our way back from our wedding in Canada, a whisky club member arranged a special evening in London with Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of The Whisky Exchange. Following our dinner, he took us to their office, giving a tour of his personal collection in their board room, the rare malts section, warehouse and private bar where he ‘started us’ with something simple – a mere 30+ year Caol Ila! What Sukhinder and his brother have done for the world of whisky is unmatched.
My friend wondered why I never wrote about this experience or took copious photos like I do during our normal tastings together. My response? It was like entering a “whisky temple” and I wanted nothing to distract from fully being there in the moment of that exceptional experience. It was a year later before the Cask Strength Trio selected by Sukhinder that day for the Whisky Ladies was opened.
There were also several events (Glenmorangie Bacalta Launch, DISCUS American bourbon, rye and cocktails, Whisky Live Singapore), however what really stood out was 2 days, 3 tasting experiences featuring 15 whiskies from 3 to 60 years!
All were held with Krishna Nakula and Keshav Prakash and each experience added a richness to a whisky appreciation repertoire, making this my #9 Expert Event:
- Krishna Collection: Glen Grant 60 year, Bowmore from 1970s “The Prestonfield” Vintage 1972, Glen Garioch 17 year (1996), Caol Ila 36 year (1980), Laphroaig 19 year (1996)
- Saturday Speed Tasting: Hyde Single Grain Burgandy, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, Pikesville 110 Proof Straight Rye, House Blend, Midleton Dair Ghaelach
- Dream Drams: Mortlach 37 year 1976, Lochside 1981, Mosstowie 35 year 1979, Aultmore 5 year 2007
2018 – 2019
The next two years were full of so many tasting experiences – introductions to new independent bottlers like North Star and Chorlton, whiskies from new distilleries, another trip to Paul John’s Distillery – this time with the Whisky Ladies.
I have watched with immense pride as our original tasting club members Keshav and Anjan Prakash translated their passions into professions – leading to the creation of The Vault Fine Spirits – a beacon of quality, imbued with their generous spirits.
#10 – The 1st Vault Biennale
Their inaugural spirits festival “The Vault Biennale” brought remarkable spirits and spirit makers to Mumbai in a two day event anchored by spirited stories that personalized and contextualized the passion applied to bringing unique, quality expressions to the world. It was a truly special experience and I hope it will be back next year!
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So happy to see The Vault Biennale, our labour of love for spirits, make it to this honoured list.
Excellent wrap up! How the years have flown.