By Ruhi Gilder
As more and more women and millennial drinkers take to whisky, it continues to be India’s favourite spirit, pandemic or no pandemic.
American writer Mark Twain had once famously said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” Irish or American, Scottish or Japanese, the gold elixir has always fuelled the creativity of the greats. No wonder then that whisky is one of the most loved spirits in the world, especially in India. We are one of the largest whisky consuming nations in the world. Even now, in the pandemic, the growth of the spirit market is promising. Many women and millennials are taking to whisky, ordering it at home, and quietly relishing its many layered notes.
Home consumption
Home is where the good whisky is. Lockdown blues have fuelled one of the biggest whisky-consumption trends today — drinking whisky at home. Premium whiskies are expensive, and most bars and restaurants don’t stock up the ultra-elite drams that appeal to a serious enthusiast. These are better savoured at home as it is also economical to do so, says Vinayak Singh, a whisky connoisseur and Co-Founder of the Dram Club, a whisky appreciation and education platform. He believes that whisky drinking at home will continue even post the lockdown.
For your home-bar experience, LuxeBook recommends Chivas 18YO, with 85 unique flavour notes in every drop.
Experimentation
Another interesting trend is experimentation. The lockdown has given people the time and opportunity to experiment with different whiskies. “People went from spending Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 on a bottle to splurging Rs 24,000 to Rs 25,000 on a premium whisky to try something different,” says Singh. Neha Shah, 43, Chief of Staff at a leading Mumbai- based non-profit says that her love for whisky grew in the lockdown. “I feel that whisky lends itself better to an intimate atmosphere of sitting and chatting, rather than dancing at a party, and the lockdown has given people ample time to do so,” she says.
And while Shah has been dipping into her home stock of whiskies purchased during her travels, others signed up for online tasting sessions to try something new. “There was an uptick in online whisky tastings and discussions. But that trend died down after restaurants and bars opened as people prefer a more real experience,” says Singh. “But if things persist the way they are now, online whisky tastings might see a comeback,” he adds.
LuxeBook recommends Chivas 25YO, a delicious blend with notes of peach and almond, it’s the world’s first luxury whisky, debuted in 1909.
Women lead the way
Many Indian women are developing a taste for fine whisky. Photo credit: shutterstock
Though a historically male-oriented market, in India the demographic is now veering towards women. The Dram Club hosts women-only tasting events, where they serve 3-4 styles of whiskies, and the attendees at the event are 29-year-olds to 72-year-olds.
Since its inception in February 2019, Dram Club has seen 40% female attendance at their experiential tasting events. Singh attributes women’s growing interest in whisky to higher purchasing power.
“Moreover, in our experience, women tend to have better sensory appreciation and are good at recognising and appreciating the subtle aromas and flavours of a whisky.” Sarjita Raiyani, a 48-year-old Mumbai-based interior designer has been enjoying whisky, either on the rocks or neat, for the past 2 years. “I started drinking Scotch for three main reasons. One, to give my husband company. Two, it has less calories when consumed without added mixers, and it’s a great way to connect and bond with my male friends, who are mainly whisky drinkers.”
For all calorie-conscious drinkers, a 30 ml pour of a 40% Chivas Regal contains about 66 calories, which is less than that in a 100g banana!
Home of Chivas Regal, Strathisla Distillery in the Scottish Highlands was founded in 1786
Cask strength whisky
There has been a shift towards cask-strength whisky, a type of whisky that is taken out of a cask, undiluted with water and bottled straight away, usually leading to higher alcohol by volume (ABV), upwards of 50%. Most whiskies are 40% ABV, but some premium ones are bottled at higher alcohol content. Though laws in India don’t allow you to sell alcohol higher than 50% ABV except in Goa, where you can sell up to 60% ABV. A lot of whiskies that fetch a premium value are bottled at cask strength.
Blended whisky
Dispelling the notion that blended whiskies are inferior to single malt, Singh laments the lack of consumer awareness and education in the Indian market. “There is a big taboo against blended whisky, but blended whiskies are phenomenal.” Most single malts are also blends, but they are from one distillery, hence the word ‘single’. Blended Scotch, however, it is all about using variable input whiskies to get the same result time after time after time, a truly admirable skill Innovation in blends, and their smoothness is attracting a new segment of drinkers, the millennials.
Bright future
Whisky looks poised for a golden future. It is finding a niche with millennials and a fan base of women drinkers, who are choosing their favourite drams with care. As a millennial just starting out in the world of whisky, you can find me raising a glass of Chivas XV, aged for 15 years, with a refined fruity flavour and velvety finish.
You may also like:
World Whisky Day: Whisky experts tell us which is their favourite dram