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Lord of malts - The Hindu

Lord of malts – The Hindu

There is more to that glass of whisky than meets the eye. With the various blends and concoctions on offer, it is said that it takes a true connoisseur to appreciate the subtle differences. And, it was to educate whisky drinkers on the makings of a good Scotch that Diageo’s global whisky master, Ewan Gunn, came down to India during the recent Vault Biennale festival in Mumbai. The festival, that featured tasting pods, workshops and masterclasses, had Gunn conduct a masterclass for aficionados.

In a telephonic interview, Gunn talks about his love for Scotch whisky and his nearly two-decade experience in the industry. “My father introduced me to scotch before my University days. I fell in love with the complexity and flavours of the drink. I also love to travel and this is a job that embraced both my passions,” he says.

Lord of malts

Given that Indians have always been fans of scotch and are ready to accept various single malts, Gunn says, he enjoyed how people were intrigued by the flavours of whisky during his masterclass. “I spoke about single malts, blended scotch whisky and more. People were intrigued by how lots of flavours work together in harmony to create new ones. They were enthusiastic about tasting and mulling. Everyone’s experience of flavours is unique; it is a personal journey. Different people pick up on different flavours and that makes these masterclasses so interesting,” he adds.

Bar trends may come and go and newer spirits might enjoy their moments in the sun, but a love for scotch has been pretty constant, according to Gunn. “Johnnie Walker has been the best-selling international spirit for a long time now. There has also been an increase in the number of people visiting Scotland to learn about scotch,” Gunn states.

But people do tend to get intimidated by mixology, he observes. “You can make a great drink quite easily with just a few ingredients. In fact, cocktails are a nice way to introduce someone to scotch. A Johnnie Ginger, for instance, only needs lots of ice, a squeeze of orange and is quite an easy way to enjoy scotch. I still enjoy a good scotch cocktail; it is not just for beginners.”

It is all about striking a balance when it comes to creating a whisky cocktail, says Gunn. A delicate Scotch whisky will need lighter flavours such as ginger ale, honey, soda, lemon or orange.

A more smoky malt will be bold and boast heavy full-bodied flavours. These work best with sweet vermouth, star anise or ginger beer, he explains.

Given his long-standing affair with malts, Gunn has seen trends come and go. But the current bar trend that he has been noticing globally is sustainability.

“Many bars are working towards being more energy efficient, minimising water wastage, and using locally sourced ingredients. It has become a powerful talking point with bartenders these days. Also, there is a shift in the way people are drinking today. They prefer lower alcohol content in their drink: it is all about enjoying a longer drink,” he says.


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