Sandeep Arora tells us what to expect, ahead of the seventh Icons of Whisky Awards this weekend
AISE your glasses, as the seventh edition of the Icons of Whisky awards comes to town. Organised by UK’s Whisky Magazine, the event kicks off tonight at the ITC Grand Chola and will felicitate the very best associated with the amber drink. “We will have two categories of awards. While the first will honour the best whisky bars (chosen from over 400 entries), the other will salute the innovators, ambassadors and chefs,” begins Sandeep Arora, widely hailed as India’s whisky ambassador and the director of Spiritual Luxury Living—the international spirits and whisky experiences firm that first brought the awards down in 2008.
Playing with the number seven, the night will feature seven styles of whisky cuisine. “We’ll begin with a Singleton, followed by food canapés based on whisky. After the awards, guests can try brands from companies like Diageo, Ian Macleod and Pernod Ricard at the bar, and enjoy the different courses paired with whisky, including desserts served with cognac,” says Arora, adding that one of the highlights of the evening will be the launch of an international whisky brand, for the first time in the country.
Meanwhile, we ask last year’s winners if they have seen a change in how Indians are drinking the malt. “People are more educated now on whisky drinking and etiquette. They understand nosing and the importance of glassware. And instead of just looking at the right side of the menu, they now ask us about age and undertones,” insists Prashant Chadha, the F&B manager at Cheroot, ITC Grand Chola. New World whiskies are also fast catching up, especially Japanese. “The guests who come to the Peshawari order brands like the Yoichi Nikka, Nikka Miyagikyo or the Nikka Taketsuru, which go beautifully with the meaty, spicy cuisine,” Chadha adds. And while he wouldn’t say there is a huge surge in women sipping whisky, he says he does see an upswing.
Ritesh Choudhary, director F&B at The Marriott Mumbai says there is stiff competition between vodka and whisky drinkers now. “We pride ourselves on our variety—Royal Salute, Glenlivet. Johnnie Walker Black Label, Glenfiddich 21—and while not too many ask for Japanese whiskies, we’ve seen more guests who try our Asian cuisine sampling it,” says Choudhary. Plans are on for next year. Arora says he wants to take it across the country and is looking at hosting the awards in Mumbai next.
From 8 pm. By invite only. Details: 22200000
—Surya Praphulla Kumar