Keshav Prakash, Founder & Curator of The Vault, is responsible for sourcing some of the best produce from boutique, independent distilleries from around the world, bringing handcrafted spirits to India, especially fine whiskies and craft gins.
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Prakash wears many hats—he is the founder of the Vault Biennale, India’s first spirits biennale; he was inducted into The Gin Guild, UK, for his contribution to independent and small gin brands; he is a spirits educator, certified by the Board of Cognac, France; and is a life member of The Keepers of the Quaich, an international society which was established by the Scotch whisky industry to celebrate the outstanding commitment of those who produce and promote the world’s finest, distilled spirits.
To celebrate World Whisky Day, we spoke to the Keeper of the Quaich about all things whisky.
India is one of the largest whisky-consuming nations in the world. What kind of growth do you foresee in this sector?
India’s year-on-year growth in the premium and ultra-premium segment has been impressive. I have no doubts that the double-digit growth will continue, both, in volume and value.
What do you think of whisky cocktails? Do you have a favourite?
While single malts are best enjoyed neat, cocktails made from blends can be very interesting. The Old Fashioned and The Manhattan with smoky blends are my favourites.
What kind of drinks do millennials prefer?
Millennials are wanderers and like to discover new things. They can drink anything from classic malts to world whiskies. They will also enjoy craft whiskies.
What are the responsibilities of a Keeper of the Quaich?
Whisky has an important cultural and economic standing in the history and life of Scotland. As Keepers, our responsibility is to keep the flag of scotch whisky flying high. India is one of the few countries with its own chapter!
How will the Scotch whisky business evolve in India?
India will be one of the top three consumers of Scotch whisky very soon. I see a younger audience appreciating this category, as it’s about slow and quality consumption.
What’s your favourite tipple?
A malt from Islay, slightly chilled in the fridge, with a splash of water. That’s my evening drink.
How do you think the alcohol industry will change post the lockdown?
The Industry is not likely to change. I do foresee organisations working closely with different governments introduce reforms such as home delivery and e-commerce. There are so many draconian regulations that must be scrapped. This is such a good opportunity for the industry and the government to talk to each other.
What is your business strategy? How has it changed since March 2020?
Until fine dining gets back to near normal, we will have to pivot from a B2B strategy to a B2C focus. I doubt if anyone can draw a map of what is in store for us in the mid-term, but the industry needs to, more than ever before, stick together and help each other and march on.