My father is one of the greater influencers of my taste in beverages. It is from him that I was introduced to my first glass of Scotch whiskey and have thoroughly enjoyed the taste of a good Scotch ever since. Considering my love for whiskey, I was very thrilled to be invited to a whiskey-tasting workshop by Amrut Whiskey. And to make the entire experience a lot better, this was organized at The Glass House – Deli bistro Bar at Lavelle Road in Bengaluru.
This was definitely the first time that I was attending a session which wasn’t just a mere whiskey tasting workshop, but was to be an elaborate experience in how to savour and appreciate whiskey in general. We were offered six different whiskeys and were not told which of them the Amrut brand was. Through the course of the workshop, one was to savour each of the six and rate the same based on criteria such as smell, balance and taste.
To guide us through the workshop was Ashok Chokalingam, Rakshit Jagdale and Mr. Vikram from Amrut. Ashok was in fact the Whiskey Ambassador for the year 2012, voted by the Icons of Whiskey. Ashok expertly guided everyone through the proper way to appreciate a whiskey in its entirety. His experience was clearly showing as he exposed everyone to the simple nuances of the smell of a whiskey and how simple things like temperature drastically change the aroma. Ashok even shared tit-bits of what were the ingredients of certain whiskeys that gave them a unique smell, ingredients such as peat, barley, berries, caramel and others.
|Ashok Chokalingam explains the right way to taste a whiskey|
|Practical experience on the effects of temperature on the aroma of a whiskey|
We were also helped to sample and savour a whiskey the right way to ensure we are able to taste all the ingredients and ensure the intended taste hits the intended spots on the tongue. It was extremely educational to know how to correlate the spot the whiskey hits on the tongue can be used to identify the region from which the whiskey possibly comes from. Ashok went on to explain certain myths about whiskey making and differentiating the marketing from the reality. He also shared the history behind how Amrut whiskey came to be. What started out as a project challenge during his MBA in Newcastle for Rakshit Jagdale, Amrut whiskey has grown to become one the most reputed whiskey brands coming from India.
As we sampled the various whiskeys, we kept rating them on various factors on a scale of 1-10. At the end of the workshop, the scores were tallied and everyone was eager to see which whiskey was what and which made the top choices among the six. The most popular choice was in fact Jim Beam. The next two winners of the blind test were in fact from Amrut distilleries - The Amrut Fusion and the Amrut Peated Single Malt. Both these beat the likes of the ever popular Johnnie Walker Black Label and surprisingly even beat Glenmoraingie which is the third highest selling whiskey in the world. (Please don’t beat me up if I got that stat wrong). The blind test gave great credibility to Amrut as a brand and gave me great pride that it’s being distilled here in namma Bengaluru.
|The Amrut Fusion Whiskey|
After the whiskey-tasting workshop, we had Rohinton Mottahed from The Glass House who explained about the concept behind the restaurant and the ambitions they have for the place. It was evident that the venue aims to position itself as one the classiest joints in the city and offer patrons the best of everything right from alcohol, to food and an overall great experience. They even have their own labelled wine and artistic cutlery that spells out the name of the venue.
We had Chef Preetesh who explained his take on the dishes served on the menu and were offered some of the dishes to sample. We started off with the Goat Cheese Lollipops. This was goat cheese with chopped dates and jalapeno stuffing served on a breadstick. I rather enjoyed the milieu of flavours on this one. The saltiness of the goat cheese, the sweetness of the dates and the spice of the jalapeno were three distinct flavours that played around with my taste-buds with no one flavour dominating the other. I recommend this to folks who enjoy the taste of goat cheese. And this is quite light on the tummy too. This was followed by a Beef Carpaccio. The beef had been cured in some red wine but somehow neither offered the taste of the wine nor the taste of the beef. While the dish was presented quite well, I really was not sure of what to make of the dish in terms of taste.
|Goat Cheese Lollipops|
Next up was the Chicken Fire Cracker. Tender chicken covered in a mix of mango puree and mustard was, as the name suggests, an explosion of tastes in my mouth. The sweetness of the mango and tanginess of the mustard left a long lasting taste. I definitely recommend this for the ambitious non-vegetarian. This was the best dish from the entire set of dishes we sampled.
|Chicken Fire Cracker|
For the vegetarians, we had a Stuffed mini-Eggplant Roulade with hummus. Despite my aversion to all things eggplant, I actually enjoyed the taste of this dish. The taste of eggplant that I normally do not enjoy seemed to have been completely muted thanks to the filling, which if I remember correctly, was ratatouille. The hummus was a nice touch. While most of the others frowned at the prospect of eggplant, I enjoyed this one. I also took a favourable liking to the Lamb Sliders.
|Stuffed Mini-Eggplant Roulade|
We were also served a version of the popular British dish, Fish and Chips. Rather messy to eat, the taste of the fish was completely subdued thanks to the sauce that was used. This is something you could give a miss. The final dish of the evening - the Margarita Pizza, was rather different with the taste of pesto dominating everything else. The buffalo mozzarella made the cheese nice and stringy, not to mention very appetizing when one pulled off a slice from the rest of the pizza. This definitely falls in my list of dishes I would recommend to people heading to The Glass House.
|Fish and Chips|
The combination of an evening of great whiskey with good food was something to be remembered. I also got to meet a whole new host of fellow food and beverage enthusiasts which was really nice. I’m definitely going enrol myself for the distillery tour of the Amrut factory. Of all the whiskey’s we tried that evening, the Amrut Fusion was my favourite. Kudos to Ashok and the rest of the team for introducing me to this whiskey and more importantly, showing me the right way to truly start appreciating a good whiskey.