Food Mood: Whiskey Appreciation Session - Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway

The Glenlivet 21 years
I was invited to a special evening, exclusively for SPG members( Starwood Preferred Guests), to indulge in an educative evening of whiskey appreciation, followed by a delicious five-course meal. Limited to about 30 odd guests, the host for the evening was Saurabh Bakshi, General Manager  of the Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway along with Sandeep Arora – A leading whiskey connoisseur in India. Sandeep explained the nuances of how whiskey is brewed differently from other alcohols, the importance of the number of years the whiskey is kept in the casket, ideal glasses to drink whiskey in and so on. The session was really informative, and left yours truly (a self-proclaimed whiskey connoisseur) feeling extremely ignorant about the world of this golden nectar. Sponsored by The Glenlivet, the guests were offered the variants of 12 years, 18 years and 21 years to understand how the flavours changed with time. (PS: I’ve got my eyes on a Glenlivet 21 year old Whiskey)

The Glenlivet 12 years
The Glenlivet 18 years

The Glenlivet 21 years
Sandeep Arora (on the right) with Vibhour

Post this session, we moved on to dinner and started off with an Amuse Bouche which consisted of poached pears with walnut and blue cheese. I really enjoyed how the sweet taste of the pears complimented the taste of blue cheese. I wasn’t overly fond of the walnuts as they really didn’t add to the overall taste of the dish.

For the salad, I chose the tobacco infused duck with mesclun, figs and pistachio pesto. The duck was cooked to perfection and sliced perfectly. I really enjoyed the organic taste of tobacco that came the moment I put the duck into my mouth.

Tobacco infused duck salad
The vegetarians had a tobacco infused ricotta cheese with mesclun, pickled cranberry and hazelnut. Unfortunately, I did not get to sample this one.

Tobacco infused ricotta cheese

Next up was the soup. So far, Bene has had a 100% record of making the soup my favourite dish of the entire meal. The evening’s soup was made of roasted butternut squash with goat cheese and honey. The soup had a nice fresh fruit like tinge to it and really suited the summer weather. As the chef was telling me, soups and sauces are the toughest things to make as even a little bit of adjustment can completely vary the taste. This soup was superb.

Roasted butternut squash with goat cheese and honey

I chose the non-vegetarian main course which was a whiskey glazed chicken breast, stuffed with smoked cheese and apricot. This came with a helping of truffled fondant potatoes and grilled asparagus. With whiskey being the theme of the evening, the chicken was done really well with the taste changing wildly as you ate. The outer layer had the sweet taste of whiskey which turned into the nice clean taste of tender chicken and finally culminated in a lovely combination of cheese and apricot. It was an absolute delight to have. I am going to frown on the asparagus though – personal taste. 

Whiskey glazed chicken breaast

The vegetarians were offered a dish which consisted of layers of grilled porcini, asparagus and Mediterranean vegetables with crispy carasau bread and risotto tart. My neighbour at the table was kind enough to let me sample from her plate. The bread was a little too crispy making it a bit of a fight to get everything together. What stood out was the taste of the vegetables. I liked my chicken better though.

Grilled porcini, asparagus and Mediterranian vegetables

The meal ended with a unique dessert of poached apples with mascarpone ice cream, hazelnut crumble topped with caramelized whiskey sauce. I always thought mascarpone was typically a cheese, but this was the first time I ate it in the form of an ice cream. The dessert had a unique taste to it and was enjoyable. The dessert truly epitomizes the brilliance of chefs who day in and day out look for new combinations and flavours to put together. Kudos to them. 

Poached apples,mascarpone ice cream with caramalized whiskey sauce

The evening's proceedings concluded with Dominican Robusto cigars being handed out. Sandeep ran us through a small session on how the cigars were made and some of the etiquette to be followed while smoking a cigar.  I’m going to just call out to the boys at Skrat, from Chennai whose song ‘Smoke a Cigar’ kept running through my head the whole time.

The evening was really informative and well planned out. A big thanks to Sandeep Arora, who has made me, and a lot of other folks present, look at whiskey very differently going forward. The food as usual, was exquisite with the soup and the chicken taking a tie at first place. 

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Yours truly featured in the New Indian Express