Spirited Cuisines: Naren Pal Singh

Rare Scotch by the oldest distillery in Scotland, the hottest Craft Gin and Beer, or the rare vintages of the Grand Cru wines – the world of luxury spirits and wines is indeed an exhilarating one. From aristocratic royalty to new money, elaborate alcoholic beverages have always been synonymous with wealth, status and eccentricity.

Thanks to an increase in wealth, independence and empowerment, now even the Modern-She is turning her eye to luxury products and services that were historically a ‘male territory.’ As a result, many brands are seeking to specifically appeal to the rising affluent female consumer.

Hence, it is no surprise that all the luxury spirits (whether it is the rapper-endorsed beverage or the undeniable classics) are getting more and more extravagant with highly detailed packaging designs, rich histories and even extremely expensive price tags.

Coming from a city where food is a religion, it is only imperative for its drinkers to team it correctly with their finest choice of elixir. In order to understand this culture better, we caught up with some connoisseurs from the city, to get an insight on their favourite alcohol, and their recommended pairings.

Naren Pal Singh, Managing Director, The Brand Sardar (F&B Consultancy)

What are your views on the market in Hyderabad?

The cosmopolitan culture of the city together with cross pollination has led to a harmonious intermingling of dining and drinking habits. This has resulted in an increase towards brand awareness. However, lack of an extensive portfolio and discouraging price structures are hurdles that we need to overcome to accelerate the growth.

Your thoughts on the change in demand of luxury spirits in Hyderabad…

People nowadays are very well aware of what they want to indulge in and hence there is immense scope with huge demands. Diageo integrated with USL which has a huge penetration in market. Believe it or not but Gold Label, Platinum labels sell the highest in Hyderabad after Delhi, in India.

What would your favourite ones be?

I am a malt drinker and my field of work entails selling it too. From what I see, some of the best that are often sold are Talisker, Cardhu, Platinum label, Blue Label, Glenlivet, Oban, and Laphroig.

Your recommendation on pairing your malt?
Being a true Punjabi I prefer my malts with kebabs! (smiles)
On a serious note:

  • Single malts like Glenmornagie, Laphroig or Macallan should be teamed with a fatty piece of meat where its fat coats one’s palate – that helps in enhancing the flavour profile of the whisky.
  • Beluga is a luxury vodka that could be paired with fish roe, oysters, smoked salmon or a spicy eastern European klobasa.
  • Gin like Crossbill works best with smoked salmon or goat cheese.
  • The Rum named Ophyum, 23 years Solera from Dominican Republic goes flawlessly with a nice Cuban cigar and dark chocolate.

How are people’s palates changing with time?
People are nowadays very well travelled and understand what every luxury spirit has to offer to their palate, thanks to which, many have shifted from premium to luxury.