India, a land obsessed with Whisky, hadn’t seen it in this light before - uncloaked and magnificent. Ewan Gunn, the Global Scotch Whisky Master at DIAGEO on his Indian sojourn stimulated the aureate liquor with fables, delineating yarns to each one of the premium labels. In an interactive tasting session in the Capital with the connoisseurs of whisky, the crimson-faced, particularly convivial, Ewan, in his dulcet Scottish accent, toured us back and forth the sagas that stand lofty at the rear of the brands’ repute and footing.
Ewan enunciated, “Scotch is scoring high on the palettes of aficionados. It has largely become the key ingredient for cocktails around, and is dominating the cocktail menu even more than vodka or gin. This is amazing to see. Playing around with diverse Scotch can compose a stark difference in the flavor of the cocktail because of the miscellany of flavors within Scotch. I personally love to mix the Red Label with ginger ale and ice – it’s simply incredible.”
As the tasting progressed, we became one with the stories behind each one of them.
- Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve – the most popular whisky in India is quite mellow and has an inherent caramel sweetness. This smooth and balanced amber colored whisky from Scotland gets its name from Walter Millard’s (the man from the East India Company who brought the whisky to India) favorite fishing fly known as the Black Dog.
- Vat 69 – Vat 69 is a Scotch blended whisky created by William Sanderson of South Queensferry, Scotland. In 1882, he made hundred casks (Vats) of blended whisky and asked a panel to taste them. The Vat with no. 69 on it was termed as the best amongst the lot and therefore, the name was attributed to the iconic whisky. It has an oaky under taste with quite an approachable style.
- Black & White – This blended Scotch whisky from Scotland is a beautiful whisky with a mild citrusy flavor coming through. Founded by James Buchanan, the brand motif features a black Scottish Terrier and a white West Highland White Terrier primarily because of his love for animals specially terriers but the well-liked folklore also alleges that he deliberated on the insignia while on his way back home from a dog show. The brand does exceptionally well everywhere in the world but particularly in markets he traveled to all those years ago trading horses and in so doing, selling whisky – Argentina for example. It’s hugely popular in France.
- Johnnie Walker - John Walker, a 15 year old young boy, in 1820 launched this scotch in Ayrshire, Scotland in his grocery store subsequent to his father’s death. Initially it was called Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky but the scotch that he sourced from different parts would change in flavor swiftly; hence, he started blending single malts to prolong consistency in flavor. Later the generations expanded it globally making it one of the biggest and the most iconic brands worldwide.
They were geniuses in Ewan’s words, “In 1860 the Walkers introduced the iconic square bottles that’d have more bottles stacked up in the same space and limit breakage too. They mastered packaging design even before the concept existed. Also, the slant label on the bottle was designed so that it was more noticeable on the bars and could accommodate additional text. They were marketing geniuses. The most identifying characteristic of the JW bottle is its Logo – the walking man made by a cartoon artist – the Walkers didn’t want a conventional Scottish man rather wanted someone more dapper and stylish and therefore, approved of this contemporary logo.”