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May 20 is World Whisky Day: Why would a wine maker foray into the whisky space? To give it a twist!

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Wine, Pixabay

– by Vishnu Makhijani

May 20, 2017: Why would a wine maker foray into the whisky space? To give it a twist!

“We’ve always wanted to offer something new to our consumers and therefore Eclipse is crafted with a twist, with the addition of a matured Grape Spirit and blended with peated malt and scotch,” Yogesh Mathur, Vice President, Artisan Spirits Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of Sula Vineyards, told IANS as World Whisky Day was celebrated on Saturday (May 20).

“So, even though Sula has ventured into the whisky market, we have successfully managed to keep our feet firm to our roots. In this cluttered beverage market, Eclipse is clearly a stand-out from the crowd as being the only whisky in the market produced with matured grape spirits, leaving a smooth and lasting flavour of fruits and vanilla on the palate,” he added.

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What else can one expect in the whisky space in the year ahead?

“There seems to be a growing trend of whisky cocktails, which is very exciting. In general, the way in which whisky is consumed these days is more relaxed — acceptable neat, with ice, with mixers and in cocktails – whatever consumers prefer,” Caroline Martin, the master blender for Diageo’s Signature whisky, told IANS in an email interaction.

Don’t many consider it sacrilegious to use whisky, particularly single malts, as a base for cocktails?

“I agree it’s sacrilege and so we used the Glennfiddich 12 (instead of a higher-end single malt). Why not experiment? Not everyone is a purist,” Chef Manish Mehrohtra had previously told IANS at a tony food-tasting event.

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So, enter the Monkey Thandai, with the base being Monkey Shoulder, a free-spirited, fun-loving three-malt blend with an easygoing smooth, rich and mellow vanilla deliciousness. Quite faddish it has become for the Indian summer drinker.

To get back to Martin, how does one describe a whisky drinker?

“In my opinion, people who are new to whisky prefer accessible flavours, whereas adorers of whisky are more open to more robust flavours.

“I think this very much depends on the occasion to some extent. Consumers will choose what they want to drink depending on what they want to get from it. It’s important, therefore, to ensure consumers are given a broad range of whiskies to choose from — in terms of flavour/price and the like — so that their drink of choice is always a whisky,” she added.

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What then, at the bottom line, drives the whisky market in India?

“India is the world’s biggest whisky market and that makes it a fantastic place for us to do business. One of the biggest trends we are currently seeing in India is the rise of a cocktail culture in whisky,” James Pennefather, Managing Director, William Grant & Sons India, told IANS.

He attributed this to three factors.

“Bartenders with better skills, an increasingly vibrant bar scene plus drinkers with an international outlook who are looking for different drinks’ experiences.”

“Through our investment in mixology initiatives such as our current ‘Summer Tails’ activations in bars and programmes such as the Ultimate Bartender Challenge have helped develop bartenders’ skills further,” Pennefather added. (IANS)

 

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Oldest recorded solar eclipse occurred 3,200 years ago

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Solar eclipse

Cambridge University researchers have pinpointed the date of what could be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded. The event, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BC, is mentioned in the Bible, and could help historians to date Egyptian pharaohs.

“Solar eclipses are often used as a fixed point to date events in the ancient world,” said Professor Colin Humphreys from University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.

Using a combination of the biblical text and an ancient Egyptian text, the researchers were able to refine the dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, in particular, the dates of the reign of Ramesses the Great, according to the study published in the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

The biblical text in question comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua and has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries.

It records that after Joshua led the people of Israel into Canaan, a region of the ancient Near East that covered modern-day Israel and Palestine – he prayed: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

“If these words are describing a real observation, then a major astronomical event was taking place – the question for us to figure out is what the text actually means,” Humphreys said.

“Modern English translations, which follow the King James translation of 1611, usually interpret this text to mean that the Sun and Moon stopped moving,” Humphreys said.

“But going back to the original Hebrew text, we determined that an alternative meaning could be that the Sun and Moon just stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining. In this context, the Hebrew words could be referring to a solar eclipse, when the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, and the Sun appears to stop shining,” Humphreys said.

This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated ‘stand still’ has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses, he added.

Independent evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC can be found in the Merneptah Stele, an Egyptian text dating from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah, son of the well-known Ramesses the Great, the study said.

The large granite block, held in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, says that it was carved in the fifth year of Merneptah’s reign and mentions a campaign in Canaan in which he defeated the people of Israel.

Earlier historians had used these two texts to try to date the possible eclipse, but were not successful as they were only looking at total eclipses, in which the disc of the Sun appears to be completely covered by the moon as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.

What the earlier historians failed to consider was that it was instead an annular eclipse, in which the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too far away to cover the disc completely, the researchers said.

In the ancient world, the same word was used for both total and annular eclipses.

The researchers developed a new eclipse code, which takes into account variations in the Earth’s rotation over time.

From their calculations, they determined that the only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, in the afternoon.

If their arguments are accepted, it would not only be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded, it would also enable researchers to date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merneptah to within a year.

Using these new calculations, the researchers determined that Ramesses the Great reigned from 1276-1210 BC, with a precision of plus or minus one year.(IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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World’s oldest Italian wine has been found: US Study

The Italian wine was found in a large storage jar and belongs to the Copper Age

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World's oldest Italian wine found
World's oldest Italian wine found. Pixabay
  • The world’s oldest Italian wine in a large storage jar from the Copper Age
  • The discovery is detailed in Microchemical Journal
  • Chemical analysis conducted on the ancient large storage jar tested positive 

Florida, USA, August 25, 2017: Researchers from the US have found evidence of the world’s oldest Italian wine in a large storage jar from the Copper Age which indicates that winemaking in the region began as early a fourth millennium BC.

The discovery, detailed in Microchemical Journal, could dramatically predate the commencement of winemaking in Italy.

Traditionally, it has been believed that the production of it developed in Italy in the Middle Bronze Age (1300-1100 BC).

Chemical analysis conducted on the ancient large storage jar tested positive.

Lead study author Davide Tanasi from University of South Florida in Tampa, US, conducted chemical analysis of residue on unglazed pottery found at the Copper Age site of Monte Kronio in Agrigento, located off the southwest coast of Sicily.

The team determined that the residue contains tartaric acid and its sodium salt, which occurs naturally in grapes and in the winemaking process.

The researchers are now trying to determine whether it was red wine or white wine. (IANS)