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Celebrating versatility of American Whiskey

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 15:43 Hrs  [IST]

For any product to gain global recognition, it is important that the country that produces owns it and take pride in it. The famous American Whiskeys of Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye are part of a rich heritage that the whole country take pride in, and highly regulated still by the laws so that they are made using the specified ingredients, processed in a particular manner, aged and packed with utmost precision so that it reaches the connoisseurs of whiskey globally without losing its flavour. Distilled Spirits Council United States (DISCUS), the agency that promotes American Whiskeys globally, organised a ‘Great American Whiskey Experience’ event in Delhi to celebrate the World Whiskey Day recently where American Whiskey Ambassador in India, Yangdup Lama, renowned mixologist explained the heritage, unique characteristics of the US Whiskeys and also demonstrated how to make classic cocktails using these great whiskeys to the connoisseurs delight, writes P Krishna Kumar.

It was first of the nine American Whiskey promotional seminars that SCS Group, India representatives of DISCUS, set to hold in five primary cities in coming months. The venue was QLA Restaurant in Delhi. I attended an American Whiskey tasting event for the second time in less than a year, but it rather had a ‘refresher’ effect. But for a different ‘Ambassador’, the briefing was same. The difference was more in the presentation. Last year, the focus was largely on food pairing, but under the new Ambassador, Yangdup Lama, the focus was not on food, rather on ‘classic cocktails’ with Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye Whiskeys.

After all, the name and fame of American Whiskeys travelled across the world through these classic cocktails only, confirmed Lama. Bartenders made these classic cocktails with elan and Whiskey enthusiasts just celebrated it for over a century across the world. “Craft whiskeys and classic cocktails have made a comeback in the last one decade globally. When they came back after decades, they came back in a much more evolved format because of high level of understanding of the bartenders about the ingredients, the process and techniques,” informs Lama.

Lama presented with aplomb six selected classic cocktails using Bourbon and Tennessee in just over an hour-long event to deride all myths about their complexities. These included Mint Julep, Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, The Ginger Baker and Spiced Boulevardier. When most of the cocktails were presented in the “classic” fashion, Lama tried to give his personal touch to couple of them – The Ginger Baker and Spiced Boulevardier. “The key route that American Whiskeys have taken globally for popularity is the cocktail route. That is why I decided to present the same classic cocktails,” he stated.

After signing up as the Whiskey Ambassador for DISCUS, Lama went on a recce of the Whiskey making region of the US to hone his knowledge about the products and their history and heritage. Lama was simply floored by the passion and pride every distiller and whiskey-maker have in their products. They celebrate each and every element that contributes to the making of those great products – weather, water, ingredients (corn/rye), barrel, etc. “They use their resources to the optimum and take pride in it. Any country which makes great spirits take great pride in it and in their resources,” he stated, “As a country, we are short of it,” he said taking a jibe on India.

The production of American Whiskeys of Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye, are governed by US law in terms of its ingredients, quality and quantity of inputs, usage of barrels, aging, etc. The main ingredients used in American Whiskeys are corn and rye. They contain minimum of 51% corn or rye as per law. They are aged in charred new oak barrels.

“My role as the Ambassador is to speak to consumers about the uniqueness of the products, the origin, heritage, journey, etc. One need not be snobbish about US Whiskeys. It’s free for all. One can drink it straight up to understand its characteristics, have it on the rocks, and mix it with whatever one likes. It’s an all-rounded product,” Lama said.

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