Mumbai: Much to look forward to at this festival dedicate to liquor

By Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

Updated: Feb 15, 2019, 19:44 IST

Taste craft spirits, tune into conversations and attend masterclasses at a festival dedicated to booze

What happens at a spirit festival? People drink and make merry. If that's what you thought, you're only half right. Keshav Prakash, founder of The Vault Collection and curator of The Vault Biennale scheduled for this weekend, points out, "It is all about story-telling."

Both days of the festival are divided into two sections - Indulge and Listen - which involve masterclasses and talks. An added "Taste" section will allow visitors to sample over 40 hand-picked craft spirits and beverages from around the world. "Look out for contemporary gins, and new spirits like Brazilian cachaca and French armagnac and calvados," says Prakash, whose visits to world spirit festivals, including Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, Cocktail Spirits in Paris and Bar Convent Berlin, inspired him to curate one in Mumbai.

"The idea is to focus on the product and appreciate it. Not because it is a popular brand, but because you like it. That is why storytelling is important. We are always sharing stories about a drink we tried or an ingredient we added, aren't we?" he signs off.
ON: February 16 and 17, 12 pm to 7 pm
AT: Neel Tote on the Turf, Mahalakshmi.
COST: Rs 3,800 for a single-day pass (added individual fee of Rs 1,200 for masterclasses)

The Guide's top six picks
Two is company
Mezcal is the new exotic spirit and the Mexican state of Oaxaca is peppered with its producers. The spirit is distilled at least twice, using the fermented juices of any species of the agave plant, which is more than 12 million years old and has 20 species. Global mezcal ambassador Phil Bayly (in pic) will help you decode the drink. "Mezcal can be broken down into three types: original, artisanal and ancestral; and six classes, namely blanco, madurado, reposado, añejo, mezcal con and distilado con," says Bayly, who will dissect two exotic spirits, tequila and mezcal, exclusively distilled from agave.
WHAT: A tequila and mezcal masterclass WHY ATTEND Navigate the world of agave spirits
ON: February 1, 4 pm to 4.45 pm

Setting the bar high
Did you know that a common mistake while making a drink is using less ice, which actually over-dilutes the drink? Or that vermouth is a wine that should be used within a month of opening and the surface temperature of ice can make or break your drink? Singapore-based Tirthankar Dash, co-founder and coach at StoryCompany, will be in conversation with Kayama Hiroyasu (in pic) of Benfiddich Bar (Tokyo), Benjamin Novana of Licoreria Limantour (Mexico) and Alex Simonidis of Clumsies (Athens) at this talk.
WHAT: Stories of three of the World's 50 Best Bars
WHY ATTEND: Learn what it takes to make it to the international guide for the world's top bars. Also check out their individual masterclasses on February 16.
TIME: February 17, 2 pm to 2.30 pm

Let's beGin
How did gin take over the world? "It's a delicious, versatile and exciting spirit. Gin is in! New craft distillers are pushing the boundaries of flavours, and making gins that are far more enjoyable than some of the giant household brands," Cornish gin maker Tarquin Leadbetter (in pic)says, adding that every gin is different, which allows for plenty of room for flavour and character. Ginsmiths Walter Riddell, Leadbetter and Guillaume Drouin will be in conversation with Shreya Soni of Delhi Secret Super Club.
WHAT: The Curious World of Gins
WHY ATTEND: Learn to pick the best gins for your home bar.
TIME: February 16, 1.45 pm to 2.15 pm

Desi daaru
Alcohol was a part of daily life in ancient India, when kings and emperors had "soma pana", an old version of booze. We are no strangers to alcohol. Older whiskies are better, we know, but there is a limit to how long a spirit can age. "Many a time, younger whiskies are far better than some of the older varieties. Age is really a justification for the price," spirit maker Ashok Chockalingam says.
WHAT: Beyond Jugaad – The Indian Globalists
WHY ATTEND: Discover the diverse world of whisky with spirit makers Sakshi Saigal, Michael D'Souza and Chockalingam.
TIME: February 16, 3.15 pm to 3.45 pm

Be a nosy parker
It may seem like taste buds take all the credit, but it is your sense of smell which influences your overall flavour experience and provides majority of the flavour nuances that we experience when we savour fine spirits. Alan Gordon, managing director of Scotland-based Aroma Academy, will teach you how to nose like a professional. Follow a systematic methodology to develop these sensory skills and to distinguish aromas and flavours in whisky, rum and gin.
WHAT: Aroma masterclass
WHY ATTEND: Pick up techniques to develop your nosing ability.
TIME: February 16, 3.30 pm to 4.15 pm

New entry
If calvados, is the oldest brandy manufactured in France (distilled from cider made from selected apples) then, cachaca is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. The latter comes from Brazil. Each has slowly but steadily found a footing in the leading bars of the world. Food and drink writer Antoine Lewis will be in conversation with Florence Castarede, who will introduce participants to armagnac, while Guillaume Drouin (in pic) will talk about calvados and Jorge Balbontin about cachaca.
WHAT: What's next? The spirits going forward
WHY ATTEND: Familiarise yourself with three spirit categories that are still new in India.
TIME: February 17, 3.45 pm to 4.15 pm

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