There’s so much more to whisky than meets the senses, and Delhi-dweller Angad Singh Gandhi doled out exactly what that entails. The Glenfiddich brand ambassador is never in one place for too long as he hops from city to city, teaching bartenders and spirits enthusiasts how to make the most out of every sip.
And as he does hop from city to city, Angad Singh Gandhi makes sure he enjoys his surroundings; after all, that’s a big part of what he does. But in his early days, he needed the money to make those journeys happen. “It’s important to understand the people in each area: what are their preferences, patterns, costs? whisky was always a huge interest to me, but I also have a huge one in beer. During an exchange programme in college, that’s where it all started. From seeing the different types of beers across Europe, my interest naturally melded into whisky. My mind was always inquisitive to know about how it gets made, distilled, fermented and everything. But I found that what the books could never teach me were what the people could. The biggest educator is travel.”
Scotland for the win
Angad, who used to be a banker, stumbled into his ambassadorship for Glenfiddich by chance. But when the offer came about he just couldn’t refuse. He travelled to the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland and met with like-minded people who taught him so much, he couldn’t believe the dearth of knowledge to be had. But what struck him in particular was that Glenfiddich is one of the world’s last family distilleries and that alone immersed him even more in the emotive side of the brand.
With his 30th birthday looming ahead, Angad found himself growing a lot in Scotland, adapting to the sensibilities and humours of the locals, adding “They’re a bit rough on the tongue there but that’s the charm of it. If they like you, they won’t be sweet with you, they’ll be cutting jokes on you! Great people, great leadership, great fun.”
And what an environment in which to learn. “It wasn’t like a course where you do a number of months and then come back,” he recalls, “but it was more of a continual back and forth where you’re seeing different stages of the creation process. I’d go for two months and come back and go again, learn something new and read up on it… it’d become a part of my own lifestyle — which is how it was meant to be.”
So what keeps Glenfiddich upping its game? For Angad, it’s primarily important to understand the historical evolution of the product that takes centre-stage. One stand-out incident is in 2010 during an precedented snowfall in Dufftown when a lot of whisky from local companies got wasted but Glenfiddich wasn’t ready to dispose months’ worth of work. Malt-master Brian Kinsman, the family and team selected casks of different ages and finishes (including Oloroso sherry and American oak) to create a non-aged single malt whisky. The — aptly named — Snow Phoenix is bottled at 47.6% ABV. This was a one-time bottling, never to be created again. The story of adversity branded by a mythological notion, is one for the ages and such stories inspire people like Angad for the future. And it’s funny how Angad, from such a story, calls the drink itself “liquid sunshine.”
So what’s next? Angad looks to celebrate the whisky culture in India, understanding the conversation is evolving around liquors. While his father enjoys a vastly a different type of drink than he does, he sees the beauty in difference and hopes others do too.