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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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– 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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Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wines

Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine
Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine. wikimedia commons

New York, Jan 3, 2018: Although winegrowers seem reluctant to try new grape varieties apparently to protect the taste of the wines, new research suggests that they will ultimately have to give up on their old habit as planting lesser-known grape varieties might help vineyards to counteract some of the effects of climate change.

vineyards. wikimedia commons

“It’s going to be very hard, given the amount of warming we’ve already committed to… for many regions to continue growing the exact varieties they’ve grown in the past,” said study co-author Elizabeth Wolkovich, Assistant Professor at Harvard University.

“With continued climate change, certain varieties in certain regions will start to fail — that’s my expectation,” she said.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that wine producers now face a choice — proactively experiment with new varieties, or risk suffering the negative consequences of climate change.

“The Old World has a huge diversity of wine grapes — there are overplanted 1,000 varieties — and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 per cent of the wine market in many countries,” Wolkovich said.

“We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change,” she added.

Unfortunately, Wolkovich said, convincing wine producers to try different grape varieties is difficult at best, and the reason often comes down to the current concept of terroir.

Terroir is the notion that a wine’s flavour is a reflection of where which and how the grapes were grown.

Thus, as currently understood, only certain traditional or existing varieties are part of each terroir, leaving little room for change.

The industry — both in the traditional winegrowing centres of Europe and around the world — faces hurdles when it comes to making changes, Wolkovich said.

In Europe, she said, growers have the advantage of tremendous diversity.

They have more than 1,000 grape varieties to choose from. Yet strict labelling laws have created restrictions on their ability to take advantage of this diversity.

For example, just three varieties of grapes can be labelled as Champagne or four for Burgundy.

Similar restrictions have been enacted in many European regions – all of which force growers to focus on a small handful of grape varieties.

“The more you are locked into what you have to grow, the less room you have to adapt to climate change,” Wolkovich said.

New World winegrowers, meanwhile, must grapple with the opposite problem — while there are few, if any, restrictions on which grape varieties may be grown in a given region, growers have little experience with the diverse — and potentially more climate change adaptable — varieties of grapes found in Europe, the study said.

Just 12 varieties account for more than 80 per cent of the grapes grown in Australian vineyards, Wolkovich said.

More than 75 per cent of all the grapes grown in China is Cabernet Sauvignon — and the chief reason why has to do with consumers.

“They have all the freedom in the world to import new varieties and think about how to make great wines from a grape variety you’ve never heard of, but they’re not doing it because the consumer hasn’t heard of it,” Wolkovich said. (IANS)