The Glenlivet Guardians - Mumbai Chapter


Whisky is the oil of conversations and this adage was brought to life at The Glenlivet G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N.S event in Mumbai on Friday evening. Scotch enthusiasts, and some of the city’s most famous and popular faces were regaled by the words and wit of The Glenlivet “3x20” speakers – journalist and author Naresh Fernandes, writer and dancer Tishani Doshi and writer and publisher Sirish Rao who interpreted the themes of classic, exotic and revival respectively.

Part of a worldwide initiative called The Guardians of The Glenlivet, on Thursday 100 Indian scotch aficionados were called together for a tasting and voting session in order to create the 2014 edition of The Glenlivet. These chosen Guardians then voted for their favourite out of the three blends – Classic, Exotic and Revival – created by master distiller Alan Winchester. The Friday event at Camelot, one of Mumbai’s most treasured troves of antique and colonial furniture, was a continuation of The Guardians Chapter.

Ian Logan, international brand ambassador Chivas Brothers was pleased with the reception that he and the whisky received at tasting on Thursday. “The Guardians Chapter gives us a chance to get to know our customers a little better and give them something in return. It has been a great experience to see people faces reacting to these variants. The Classic, Revival and Exotic are variations of the original style of Glenlivet and we have tried to match them to the personalities of the key members of the Smith family. The Classic is obviously based on George Smith, the founder of the distillery. Revival has been inspired by the efforts of his son John Gordon Smith to save the brand and Exotic is for George Smith’s great grandson, Captain Bill Smith Grant, who introduced The Glenlivet to America. Today is another opportunity for us to say thank you to our guests and customers,” Logan said of the Friday event.

The evening witnessed a great turn out of guests which included the city’s literati and cognoscenti. Bollywood was well represented by actresses Aditi Rao Hydari, Amrita Puri, theatre and film actress Lillette Dubey and her daughter Ira, actress Smita Jaykar and actor Dalip Tahil. Food critic Rashmi Uday Singh and noted cricket writer and commentator Ayaz Memon and Ravi Dubey, Designer Denzil Smith and Sangita Kathiawad were also seen enjoying the evening.

The “3x20” sessions wherein each speaker was invited to speak for 20 minutes each were indeed the highlight of the evening. There are few others who know Mumbai as well as Naresh Fernandes, and his latest book Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age is an attestation of that. He chose to speak about the influence of jazz and jazz musicians in Bollywood in the period between 1930s-1960s, to reflect the theme of classic. “I was surprised at how early jazz came to India and how Bombay was where Indian jazz found its voice and how Bollywood songs like Eena Meena Deeka and Mera Naam Chin-Chin Choo are examples of Indian jazz. My talk tonight echoes the theme of blends, how influences merge together to create something new,” Fernandes said.

A celebrated poet and writer Tishani Doshi didn’t have to look too far beyond her personal experiences to talk on the theme of exotic. Born to Welsh-Gujarati parents and having studied in the United States, Doshi’s take on what exotic meant to her had the audience in splits. “It was a challenge to understand what exotic meant to me but I saw it as a very interesting concept. I looked at it within my own context and I realised that for me exotic is what’s inside us,” Doshi said.

With 20 books to his name, writer and publisher and artistic director of the Indian Summer Festival, Sirish Rao’s interpretation on the theme of revival was entertaining. He chose to speak about the revival of the printing industry in Sivakasi in the 1970s through baby calendars and how it coincided with the rebuilding of India. “These baby calendars with chubby toddlers in different costumes acting out various professions were perhaps indicative of how transfer our dreams and ambitions to our children and also interestingly, how at this point, India was reviving itself as a nation,” Rao explained.

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