The world of whisky is exciting yet very diverse with continued innovation. Whisky mentor and founder of Liquid Sunshine Anchal Kaushal delved into the world of whiskies, a calling she kept on hold for long. Anchal was in Goa to conduct a session on scotch appreciation. She shares with NT BUZZ all information that you need to know about the world’s most preferred spirit – from what food to pair it with to having an enhanced drinking experience, including tips for starters
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
Q: What does your work as a whisky mentor involve?
My endeavour is to break through the hype built around whisky and demystify. As a whisky expert, I try not to disturb people’s drinking styles, since that’s very personal to them, however, I do speak to them on how to appreciate a whisky. Appreciation enables them to evoke their senses, understand the aromas and truly appreciate and enjoy the drink better. I also discuss how whisky is made, what to match it with, and the latest trends in whiskies besides debunking some popular myths. It’s an aspiration to help people discover the joys of savouring whisky, cutting all the intimidating paraphernalia associated with this holy serve.
Q: How did you get into it?
Well to tell you the truth, I was really a telecom geek!
It was many years back that I discovered the beauty of the inimitable spirit. A mat was neatly laid out in front of me, four blends were poured out. A whisky expert was almost nagging us to say the words – pineapple, marzipan, vanilla while I just looked on.
I am not too sure whether to call it love at first sight. But, the whisky that day lingered longer than usual and I couldn’t help being intrigued by the alchemy. I joined the industry, working on brands and stayed on for as long as 7 years. However, one day, I just quit my job and cascaded into the world of whiskies in pursuit of deeper expertise. The calling had been on the cards for long; it just took me time to embrace the idea. I spent many weeks educating myself in Scotland with the assistance of some of the most experienced whisky makers, experts and ambassadors!
Back home, it quietly dawned on me that every whisky appreciation has a tale to tell. A labyrinth of conversations is ready to spring up with every sip. I felt the urge to share the science, craft and the art of whisky with other like-minded individuals. It’s an endeavour to create experiences and, most importantly, to demystify the space of whiskies. That’s when I created my own venture called Liquid Sunshine.
Q: Tell us about Scotland journey, the birthplace of whisky?
I began my tasting journey by making a pilgrimage to the spiritual capital of whisky, Scotland where I spent many weeks educating myself. I lived close to the distilleries, some of the most famous in the world, and traced the processes. I imbibed the experience, immersing in the new chapters I was learning every day.
Scotland’s intrigue lies in its diverse topography. It is so diverse that it is no wonder that the whisky of one region is so diametrically distinct from that of another.
However, the treat is to watch the passion of the people behind the scenes, from the barley growers to the distillery manager to the man who carries the spirit into the big tanks. They all look as if they have sprit running in their veins. No wonder you learn something from each one of them as well.
Q: Tell us about Liquid Sunshine, your venture.
Liquid Sunshine is woven around my belief. We have created customised modules on whisky appreciation to match every requirement, stage and interest. Every module has its own unique vantage point of the spirit. The end objective is to enable people to employ all their senses through the aid of collaborative art, gourmet, or music. It thrills us to share our expertise and stories with you. Whether someone is a beginner or seasoned aficionado, they can join us in exploring the amber universe. We also provide guidance through conversations, content and otherwise on how to drink, how to appreciate, food to match, art of whisky making and comparing whiskeys from across the world. In addition to features, reviews, news, blogs, we look forward to innovative partnership opportunities. Between appreciating the aromas, flavours and colours we don’t forget to keep having fun along the way.
Q: Have Indian Liquor brands managed to match international standards?
Each time world whiskies get spoken about, India gets a proud mention thanks to a brand that started making premium barley whiskey at a time when most companies were making molasses-based whiskies. This brand was recognised by whisky guru Jim Murray in 2014. It’s symbolic of the opportunity that lies ahead.
Q: What are the best foods that can complement the drink?
Food makes a charming interlude. With the whisky in question it can bring out flavour so beautifully that deciphering the flavour gets a lot simpler. To deconstruct whiskies and their flavours I often use the aid of uncomplicated foods.
Q: Have you experience gender stereotyping when it comes to alcohol?
There was a time when you would go to the bar and even before you opened your mouth to ask for a drink the bartender would place a wine in front of you. When you would say scotch on the rocks most of the men would turn their heads as if they heard something wrong, but that’s changing towards being subtle.
However, I must confess, there are times when at the end of a session people ask, ‘So do you drink whisky yourself?’ I just smile.
Q: Do you believe women shy away from whisky, why? How can this change?
I believe this has a lot to do with preconceived notions of who drinks and who does not. Till now, no one took the time or effort to reveal the beauty of whisky. If you look at the way whisky has been targeted and marketed it has almost been a man’s domain, man’s commercial, man holding the glass, group of boys enjoying a bottle of whisky. The most overt spirit to advertise with women as their central theme are the champagne guys, perhaps.
Education is slowly changing this barrier. When I conduct sessions I do see a swell in the women turnout, and they are quite participative. Yes, they do deter from consumption at times and I feel food pairings and versatility of whiskies are ways of making them develop an affinity to this spirit. In this journey the role of the huge mixologist community and chefs will play a great role.
Q: Advice to a whisky newbie!
Go ahead and browse around, find a tasting session/class or an event where you get exposed to a slew of whiskies and see what your palate is most comfortable with.