What have been some of the most memorable countries and places that your work has taken you?
Without any hesitation, it is Scotland first, then Cognac and Grasse in France, Helsinki in Finland, Slovenia and Germany. I have been a regular visitor to Scotland since 2004.
All these years I have missed visiting Islay. However, very soon I will plan a trip there and spend a few days there exploring. All of the Islay whiskies on offer truly fascinate me with their varied smokiness.
What whiskies and other spirits do you like to buy in duty free when travelling overseas?
Mostly, single malts because I love to explore them and try to find out their positive attributes. When I taste any single malt, I always compare them with Rampur and try to figure out where we stand. In addition to single malts, I also like to taste different wines as well.
What are the memorable whiskies you’ve had on your travels?
I have tasted many rare single malts, which are either limited releases or released to celebrate a special occasion. If I remember correctly, once I was coming back to India from Scotland via Heathrow and waiting for my flight back to New Delhi when I saw a gentleman dressed impeccably promoting his single malt. When I approached him, to my surprise it was Richard Paterson himself promoting Dalmore. I have known Richard since 1995 and this was in 2009. It was after a period of almost 12 years, but he immediately recognised me and offered me a Dalmore expression. It was a real surprise and a happy moment.
What Rampur whiskies might we find in duty free and which one would you recommend for a drinker new to the brand?
Rampur Double Cask, Rampur Select and Rampur PX. I would recommend Rampur Double Cask to someone new to the brand. This particular whisky has got all the positive attributes of two different styles of wood: American white and European oloroso sherry.
You must spend a lot of time on the road. What travel tips do you want to pass on to our readers?
Read books you love, make new friends, and try to explore whiskies, but responsibly of course.
If your flight was delayed, who would you most like to share a dram with in an airport bar?
Someone who wants to know more about whiskies.
What have you found most frustrating about the coronavirus lockdown in India and which countries are you looking forward to visiting once normality returns?
Lack of mobility and uncertainty. However, the positive side has been spending quality time with family. To remain positive, I did yoga and meditation. The countries I am looking forward to visiting post lockdown are Scandinavian countries with family and being able to spend quality time with them, away from the crowded places.
Brand loyalty aside, what are some of your top whiskies and cocktails?
I have tasted many iconic single malts that include single malts from Scotland, Japan, Ireland, Sweden, India, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and France. If I had to name a favourite it would be Aberlour from Speyside in Scotland.
Tell us about a strange or funny event that happened on your travels.
There is a saying, “Morning shows the day”. On his particular day, I will never forget the morning. I was flying from Bordeaux to Paris to Stockholm to Helsinki. At Bordeaux, I planned to leave the hotel three hours before my flight, which was scheduled at 10am. I arrived at reception at 7am and tried to book an Uber. To my surprise it was showing that the car would arrive at 9am. I thought I was going to miss the flight to Paris. However, a gentleman from London was also checking out of the hotel and was going to Armagnac and he said, “I will drop you at the airport as it’s on my way”.
Thankfully, his vehicle came at 7.30am and we started our journey to the airport. The traffic in the morning was horrible, it took us 1 hour 30 minutes. Even today, I am grateful to the gentleman for his help. At Paris, I discovered that my flight was delayed by 40 minutes and by the time my flight approached Stockholm, it was further delayed due to bad weather and I thought I had missed the flight. However, I was able to board the flight thanks to the weather gods. Finally I reached Helsinki at around 8pm and to my surprise my luggage was missing.
You’ve been shipwrecked on a desert island. What bottle of whisky would you like to find washed up on the shore with you?
I would love to find Rampur Double Cask to accompany me during my time on the desert island.