I have to tell you a secret – I love women who know their whiskey. I remember meeting Shatbhi Basu back in 2013 when I attended the first tasting session of hers, and boy, she made cocktails which made my head spin! I really did not want to miss out on another class with her, and I love her, because there is something new to be learned at every session! This time, the American Whiskey tasting session was held in Afraa, and apart from the usual suspects (Jim Beam, Jim Beam Black, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, and Gentleman Jack), we had a secret entrant to the list.

Of course, once at Afraa, Salt Lake, you really cannot avoid nibbling on their delicious cheese platter, smearing a bit of the brie on a piece of flatbread, or nibble on a cheese straw. I do the same, to prepare myself for the tasting.

Did you know, unlike Scotch, which takes decades at time to age, the maturing process of Bourbon Whiskey and Rye is much less, because of the humid, and hotter weather in America? The warm weather is perfect for quick expansion and contraction of the liquor, which pushes it in and out of the barrel it is contained in, ensuring that the process of inserting the flavors into the liquor is much quicker.

Buy Jim Beam Honey India

As the different whiskeys are set before us, we are led through the bright brashness of the Jim Beam, then the slightly harsher Jim Beam Black, the caramel flavors of Maker’s Mark, the rather mature tones of Woodford Reserve, the blast of banana from the Jack Daniel’s, which is pronounced even further in Gentleman Jack. The surprise entry is Jack Daniel’s Honey, the whiskey liquor made by the company. It is really sweet, with strong flavors of banana and honey, and reminds me of the Banoffee pie for some reason.

Different kinds of American whiskey 

Here is a fun thing to know about American Whiskey – what you might call Moonshine, or White Whiskey, which is the freshly made, or slightly aged and filtered rye or corn whiskey is making a comeback in the form of Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye, or Maker’s White (Rye). This form of whiskey almost went out of fashion with the rise of Bourbon whiskey, but it seems that people now want to go back to their roots, and have what they were originally making back in the days, because that’s all the rage, apparently.

Jack Daniel’s Honey

One of the things that stuck with me was a quote from master distiller Jeff Arnett. The man has been associated with Jack Daniel’s for a considerable period of time, and he believes that making whiskey is like making tea. “It doesn’t take forever to bring out the best flavors. The hot water helps draw them out perfectly, just as our hot summers do our whiskey!” I think that makes a lot of sense when it comes to whiskey distillation.  

Whiskey Cocktails India

We sampled some of the whiskey based cocktails – the Tom and Jerry was light and refreshing, and perfect for the weather. We were served some nibbles as well, and the Chicken Wings were pretty delicious. For the vegetarians in the crowd, there were some Vietnamese Spring Rolls too.

Chicken Wings

The event was attended by several celebrities from Bengali film industry as well as many wine and liquor enthusiasts. Shaheb Chatterjee was one of them.

Shaheb Chatterjee tollywood photo

And of course, no evening can be complete without a photo of the photographer, along with the lady of the hour!

Shatbhi Basu Poorna Banerjee

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee attended the Whiskey Tasting Event at the kind invitation of Beam. 

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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