Whisky… A Spirit to Raise Your Spirits
Food & Beverage Business Review|December 2020 - January 2021
Whisky is a drink that is cherished by both men and women of all ages. It is a drink that is slowly sipped, with friends or alone. Whisky is compared to liquid sunshine whose pouring into a glass is like light music for whisky lovers. Its amazing taste and flavor and large number of varieties make it one of the most popular drinks in the world. Whisky is also considered to be good for your health. It also makes you lose weight. Ashok Malkani takes a look at the variety of whiskies available and the countries manufacturing this nectar. Questions like what is the food that pairs well with this golden liquid and the cocktails that can be concocted from this liquor are also discussed.
Ashok Malkani

To raise your spirits there is nothing as good as sipping the spirit of your choice. As Frank Sinatra remarked, “Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.” And the most coveted spirit, according to the majority of the people, is Whisky. It just whisks your worries away! And as they say, one good thing leads to another so just one drink does not seem to be enough. Like Mark Twain said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” It is said that Love makes the world go around. Whisky makes it go round twice as fast!

Whisky, according to experts, can only be called as whisky if it’s been aged in oak, although the minimum length of time varies from country to country. Whisky is also spelled as whiskey. The extra “e” comes from Ireland and traveled to the U.S. in the 18th century with Irish immigrants. The Scots spell it as whisky. This is also the spelling for all whiskies except those that come from Ireland and the U.S.

The term whisky, or whiskey, comes from the Gaelic word Uisge Beatha, meaning “Water of life”. Phonetically the word sounds like “usky” which, eventually came to be pronounced as “whisky”.

Whisky is not just a drink. It is much more. There are lots of reasons why people love whisky. Some people love it for the warmth it brings to them. It takes the edge off a long day.

There are several health reasons too for drinking whisky. Dr. Jim Swan, hailed as “the Einstein of whisky” had, while speaking at EuroMedLab conference in Glasgow in 2005, said there were great health benefits for people drinking single-malt whiskies. The reason for this is that it contains ellagic acid, an antioxidant, which could absorb rogue cancer cells in the body.

It can also reduce your chance of having a stroke. It is believed that if you have just one drink a day it may provide protection against an ischemic stroke. A 1998 study has found that a big shot of whiskey can help protect against heart disease, and boost the body's defenses against disease by raising the body's level of antioxidants.

So tipplers are drinking that “water of life” with gusto. But which is the age group that prefers whisky to other alcoholic drinks and do ladies opt for whisky?

Arnav Das, Beverage Manager, The Leela Goa, says, “Generally whisky preference cannot be differentiated by age groups; but many times you might also hear that Single Malts are for more seasoned drinkers, basically for the older age group as they understand and know how to drink it and have the pockets to spend on it. I say so because the average price range for a Single Malt is higher than another type of whiskies. Thus blended whiskies are targeted towards a younger age group, those who would rather have their whiskies with mixers. But mixers, I may mention affecting the taste profile of the whisky.”

Speaking about women drinkers, he states, “Women have been adventurous in liquor consumption. The stereotype of vodka and wine drinking doesn’t apply anymore. With hundreds of flavor compounds, oak aging; whisky has now become a matter of taste and not gender. Today around 30% of whisky drinkers are women, which was only 15% in the 1990s.”

Pawan Sharma, Food & Beverage Manager, Hotel Mirador, Mumbai, asserts, “Agewise I would say that whisky is preferred by both, the elder as well as the youth. However, as far as ladies are concerned, they are less inclined to consume whisky. I would say that the reason for the popularity of whisky, as compared to other spirits is due to various reasons like the taste, range, varieties, and price.”

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