From sake to tequila, what to sip this weekend at the Vault Festival

What have India’s well-heeled people been drinking over the last year or so? Keshav Prakash would be a good man to ask. Prakash, a former cinematographer, started The Vault, among the earliest importers of fine spirits, around the middle of the last decade in Mumbai. He says everyone wants to know more about tequila and mezcal. “But at the same time, I’d say curiosity is king. The long-ish tail of category loyalty seems to be getting cut short a bit. People want to experience and taste different things: sake, rum, craft beer…” says Prakash. You’ll find many of these “different things” at The Vault Festival that will be held this weekend in Mumbai. The third edition of the craft spirits festival, which was launched by Prakash in 2019, will showcase over 60 labels and offer a bunch of experiences ranging from a pop-up by Delhi-based Sidecar, ranked number one by 30BestBars India 2023, and a deep dive into Indian single malts. Here is a quick list of tastes we will be lining up for at the festival at the Jio World Garden at the Bandra-Kurla Complex on February 17 and 18.


From sake to tequila, what to sip this weekend at the Vault Festival (File Photo by Twitter/bpbmumbai)

Sake has been booming in the US for the last couple of years, and Japan’s sake exports have been steadily rising over the last decade. Sake may not be that big in India yet, but it is slowly turning up on dinner tables at posh homes and at bars across the country. The Vault Festival will have a lot of the Japanese rice wine, with sake sommelier Maaya Takaoka on hand to familiarise you with the drink. Brands Takaoka will be championing include Junmai Nito Manzai70, which comes from a 330-year-old brewery in Okazaki, near Nagoya; Mikadomatsu Ketohare from Saitama prefecture; and Ryusei Nagominokarakuchi from Fujii Sake Brewery, in Hiroshima. “The Junmai Nito Manzai70 is a sweet, easy-drinking sake with a dense aftertaste, while the Ketohare has the astringency of red wine tannins, but the aftertaste is the refreshing feeling of sake,” says Takaoka.

Camikara Rum

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The Camikara 12 YO, launched in late 2022, had several things going for it. India’s first pure cane juice rum was grassy, earthy, and pleasantly sweet. But it was also a limited edition release, which meant that it was extremely tough to find. That’s where the Camikara 3YO comes in. The rum, which hit the shelves late last year, has been aged in American oak barrels and contains hints of more matured rum. Piccadily Distilleries, which also makes the award-winning Indri whisky, describes the rum as funky, fruity and sweet. If you have been curious about India’s buzzing craft rum scene, the Camikara 3YO is a great place to start exploring it.

William Kerr’s Borders Gin & Mohulo Gin

The Borders Distillery in Hawick, southeastern Scotland, is among the very few distilleries in the country to produce its own base spirit. In the case of its eponymous gin, named after a famous Scottish botanist, that spirit is made from locally grown and malted barley. The distillery uses the uncommon Carter Head Still. The still employs a copper basket that suspends the botanicals – pine, citrus, mint, orange peel among others – in the vapour of the base spirit. The result is a cereal-ey, citrusy, smooth spirit with a punchy juniper nose. Mohulo Gin, made by Delhi-based Smoke Lab, uses about 12 botanicals, including orange blossom, coriander, and honey, but the star ingredient is the dried flowers of the Mahua tree.

Canmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Canmore, owned by the independent spirits bottler Charles Edge London, has won several awards for its exceptional range of whiskies. These include not only single malts and blended whisky, but also single cask bottlings of the likes of Bunnahabhain, Glen Garioch and Ardmore. Its single malt scotch whisky is known to be an unbeatable everyday whisky. Described as “autumn in a glass”, the pleasant Highland whisky is said to admirably balance smoke and fruit, and is “light and buttery on the palate”. Canmore also offers a 12 YO single malt that has been highly rated by the International Wine and Spirits Competition jury and the USA Spirits Rating panel.

Casa Maestri Tequila

Casa Maestri is among Mexico’s leading contract tequila producers. The tequilas it creates in Jalisco for a variety of brands have won several awards at prestigious competitions. So, it stands to reason that the brand’s own tequila, developed by mastera tequilera Ana Maria Romero, should be top notch, especially the reposado and the anejo. The former is aged for about eight months in ex-bourbon barrels and has a viscous, buttery feel on the palate, while the anejo, which is aged for 14 months, exhibits vanilla on the nose, and a caramelly, smoky finish.

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