Monday, March 23, 2009
INDIA appears to be emerging as a hot market for the scotch whiskies.The whisky market is growing by about 40 per cent in a year in India. Since half the population in India are below 30 years and have spending money because of the economic boom it is right time for marketing luxury items including scotch. Sensing the economic climate the Scottish whiskey association visited India last year-end. They were here for strengthening the ties between India and the Scottish whiskey industry.They said that India and China were emerging top markets for scotch whiskey.They also attended a function named 'celebration of scotch whiskey' at the British high commissioner's residence,New Delhi.
In fact there is no need for a special celebration of scotch as the scotch has been celebrating its exalted existence all the time, all over the world, in clubs, houses Hotels. everywhere.
A whiskey simply made in Scotland does not make it a scotch whiskey unless it conforms to the specifications and standards of 'Scotch whiskey act 1988' passed in the U.K.The specifications include that the whiskey must be distilled in a Scottish distillery from malted Barley and water, to an alcoholic strength of 94.8% and the whiskey must be matured in an oak cask at least three years and a day, must not contain any added substance other than water and Caramel colouring and it must not be bottled with less than 40% alcohol by volume.
Brewing alcoholic drinks from Barley was in vogue from as long ago as 2000 B.C In the modern day, production of scotch begins with the collection of best Barley sheaves from the fertile lands of north-east Scotland. The Barley is then immersed in water (the water used for making Scotch is not ordinary water, each distillery has its special water source from mountains or other places in its very pure and natural condition and for even immersing the barley sheaves special pure water is usually used. The source of water is kept secret.) Then the corns are allowed to malt to a particular stage of germination. This is also a trade secret. The malting triggers the process of starch content in the corn turning into sugar.Today most distilleries order malted grain from maltsters other than malting by themselves. The maltsters also have to adopt high standard in order to be in the business.
The germinated seeds are then dried with smoke and after removing the chaff, the barley rice are soaked in hot water and it eventually turn in to a sugary liquid.This liquid is then transferred to another vessel and added yeast to ferment.This fermented liquid (wash)contains 7 or 8 percent alcohol.
The wash is then distilled twice or thrice.What we call the scotch is produced in the 2nd distillation.Then the distilled scotch is poured and sealed in large oak casks and kept for maturation.The minimum period for maturation is 3 years and during this period the whiskey smooth ens and gains its classical taste and aroma. The quality of the whiskey increases with the added years in maturation.A 62 year old highland malt whiskey was sold for 38000 pounds.(more than 25 lakh Rupees for a bottle)This explains the value of maturation period.During the maturation period about two percent whiskey get evaporated and this loss they account for as 'Angel's share'.
There is also a practice of blending differently matured whiskery together to obtain quality variety in taste and aroma, (just like mingling different Ragas(tunes) to produce a good song).Such mingled whiskery are the famed blended malt whiskey. Since personal tastes are varied some like it solo while some others like it blended.
The companies keep high standard in the production process as the very existence of their business rests on quality of the product.The various stages of production process are now computerized and is meticulously checked all the time. In last year more than a billion bottles of scotch were sold globally and it is increasing year by year expanding on to new regions.The Chivas regal, Royal salute, Something special, imperial, Long John, 100 pipers etc. are some of the great names.
Here,in India most of the liquors made are spirit based and as such they have little to boast of about special tastes and aromas unlike the Scotch whiskey. However there is a change of attitude is now taking place with India's exposure to the international brands.
For those people who are accustomed to drinking liquor to quickly satisfy the alcoholic need of the body, the scotch whiskey might be unsuitable.The scotch whiskey is to be sipped and nosed, gently savoring every drop of its magic taste, adding only pure water if necessary
Even a small change in the quality of ingredients or the nature of the vessel or the aging period give the whiskey a distinctive colour, taste and quality and that is the mystery of Scotch whiskey. A lot of traditional and scientific knowledge goes in to its preparation. An expert connoisseur can taste its smallest change and point out the reasons.