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Leisure: In good spirits, now & always

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Even as the pandemic ebbs and flows and the heat continues to scorch, here’s how you can spend some quality time with your liquor bottles.

The world of beverages is a lovely euphemistic term for my liquor cabinet, which again applies to my daily drink. Even as the pandemic ebbs and flows and the heat continues to scorch and rise in defiance of all norms and ethics, I have ensured that I spend some quality time with my bottles, which is a lovely euphemistic term for… you get it.

Since we are around Mother’s Day, I thought I would talk about a few drinks that I think are as easy as mother’s milk. Before someone propounds that I am suggesting never being weaned off, what I am saying is this—here are a few things that give me an euphoric high that I (and you) must have felt as a baby while being fed. I can only imagine the tastes and sensations, so please allow me some room for subjectivity, I mean I was only a baby.

I have always enjoyed the eau-de-vie from the tallest stills in Scotland and Dr Lumsden’s blending philosophy—bright with hints of spice and pleasant dryness —almost reflects his own sense of humour. This new one then—Glenmorangie X—isn’t the stuff you pour into a snifter and sit back. Instead you stand up and walk up to behind the bar, measure it out into a jigger and get busy mixing creatively. And it does work better than a regular single malt.

The 10-year-old from the sea house, for example, while still being fruity, has a touch of smoke and toast to it which stands out in certain drinks. One gets used to it but here, with X, the fruit-forward style makes for a rich and fertile base to reflect flavours. Best bit, it’s priced so well that you can now be boasting single malt smoothness and yet enjoy a very balanced drink without having to compensate for the oak (or a steep price tag!)

Tesouro, a small bar tucked away in South Goa, was recently adjudged the 4th best bar in Asia, and while I think the organisers have gotten the list horribly wrong earlier, this year the placements felt more just and sincere. The bar team is fabulous and the drinks they concoct absolutely divine. Among them, Midnight Brekkie stands out for its cognisance of flavours (peanut butter, strawberry, water melon) and high drinkability quotient. In other words, you will definitely order more than one. On my maiden visit, my friend and I ordered the entire menu and this was the only drink we repeated, even though that may also have something to do with the fact that we were nearly 50 shared drinks down!

Diageo has launched two new single malt whiskies and I got a chance to try one of them—Godawan Single Malt. It was extremely fruity and rich, mellow like honey almost, with just that touch of Sherry spice in the end. Quite lovely on the whole and shows pedigree. While I do feel it’s priced mostly right, it might seem a bit high to encourage trials for the first-timers, especially the Scotch snobs. But coming from the very single malt-strong Diageo stables should help. Both the versions nevertheless add to the ongoing Indian single malt saga; two gems that will only mark India’s legitimacy as not only a whisky-drinking but a single malt -producing nation.

As an anomaly, I am mentioning Estuary Water because I am still on the fence about whether it is hype or the real deal. I mean, sure, water can taste different but to declare that this is the best for blending with whiskies is going a bit too sure shot which, to me, is a sign of hubris. I love the packaging (extremely premium and slick) and would love to serve it to all my guests all the time—often the story is more important than the taste—but in my trials with various other mineral waters in a similar range, I was hard-pressed to identify this either as a standout sample or as indubitably the best among the lot. Let me know your verdict.

The writer is a sommelier.

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