Why you’ll do more than just watch as Royal Salute 21 YO stands up to the heat and spice of Peshawri’s signature
Whisky professional Sandeep Arora, of Spiritual Luxury Living, is no stranger to Chennai or its drinking habits. He has organised quite a few vertical whisky tastings, and has made lasting friends here in the process. Every time we speak, he has good things to say about Chennaiites ‘‘who love their whisky and stand by what they like, without affectation,’’ adding, ‘‘Once you crack the surface and win their respect, they make for fabulous friends.’’ Thus, even if we lack the whisky clubs other Indian cities preciously guard – though one such is taking shape here – we do have more than enough aficionados.
Arora is in town this weekend to showcase the Royal Salute 21 Year Old at ITC Grand Chola’s Peshawri. Both celebrated brands, it is one of eight dinners he is hosting across the country under the resurrected Royal Repast experience. The idea behind these evenings is to marry what master blender Colin Scott calls ‘‘the smoothest, richest, most beautiful whisky in the world’’ with intense flavours and spices from the past. ‘‘It is like an iron fist in a velvet glove. It is about power and age…’’ Scott had said during an interview last year. Great for those who enjoy Speyside malts, and quick to get you on board after a couple of sips. Over a year ago, on a malt whisky tour that included Speyside, I visited Strathisla, the malt at the heart of Royal Salute. After a privileged tasting straight from the cask, there was no doubt why the whisky stays in the Royal Salute Vault, under lock and key.
Meanwhile, on the menu at the month-long promotion that begins tomorrow at Peshawri are signatures like Sikandari Raan, the paneer khurchan and the Barrah kabab. Dessert includes their famous kulfi. It is a meal to be savoured, so you can bin all thoughts of ‘‘looking for a quick rush’’, as Prashant Chadha, the hotel’s F&B manager, puts it. The iconic Royal Salute 21 YO is a complex and distinctive whisky that may not be everyone’s cup of tea – many young drinkers are still developing a taste for a 12-18 Year Old. But for the mature whisky lover – Chadha sets the age of the connoisseur at 38 years and above – the robust pairing of a creamy murgh malai with Royal Salute 21 is a treat you don’t want to miss. Plus, Arora is always up for telling whisky tales.
June 21 to July 21, 2014, for a three-course lunch and dinner, at Peshawri, with a 60 ml serving of Royal Salute 21 YO. Rs. 5,000 plus taxes. Details: 22200000
■ Arora shares his private tasting notes, allowing that Royal Salute 21 YO goes very well with barbecued broccoli and cream cheese. ‘‘It warms and softens the palate,’’ he adds.
■ Murgh malai kebab is another staple with the amber liquid that is soft and creamy on the nose.
■ Steamed fish is a big hit, perhaps a river sole wrapped in Asian spices, not chilli, mind.
— Rosella Stephen