The allure of ice cream stores is that you can taste all displayed flavours before choosing the lucky one or two that make up large scoops in your cup. It turns out that our childhood selves that loved tasting wacky sounding flavours like ‘Bubblegum cherry’ and ‘Pista mint,’ still love sampling food and beverage assortments in adulthood. Hence, European destinations like Czech Republic and Italy are exploding with the choicest beer and cheese and wine tasting tours– a phenomenon that has been largely missing in India despite our culinary diversity. There’s hardly a drive to educate Indians on the variations and nuances of alcoholic spirits, who are forced to buy full cocktails or pints and risk disliking the drink they’ve spent money on.
But Keshav Prakash has set out to fix this problem. The founder of an exciting new venture, Vault Tasting Studio, Keshav hopes to spread his love for fine spirits like rum, whiskey, cognac, vodka, and tequila to name a few and the art of mixology in India.
A BNIC Certified Cognac Educator and founder of The Oak League, a World Whisky Appreciation club that mostly operates underground, Keshav also spends his time importing a range of fine spirits and representing small, craft alcohol brands in India. “I wanted to build a portfolio for my own personal use. But, when I would write to brands, they said, ‘We want to be in India, but there’s no one to take care of us,’” he explains while contextualising the lack of professional collaborations and partnerships that facilitate knowledge and interest in craft and fine spirits. To tackle the lack of access to craft spirits in India, Keshav tells me that he travelled to places like Guadalajara in Mexico to hunt for good tequila and Scotland in search of whisky. Now, he wants to bring the fine spirit culture to India, specifically Mumbai.
However, Keshav doesn’t want Vault Tasting Studio to be an ordinary tasting bar that adds nothing substantial to India’s alcohol culture. Discussing the importance of learning the history of alcohol production and policies in India and the way each fine spirit is sourced and prepared into end products like cocktails, Keshav says that he envisions Vault Tasting Studio as a “sensory experience, where the journey is as important as the destination.” From designing the space in a manner that “facilitates communities and conversations” to hosting a number of interesting and engaging workshops, masterclasses, and tasting experiences, Keshav wants his customers to leave Vault Tasting Studio with a holistic appreciation for fine spirits. “There’s so much science in a little glass,” he says while explaining his plans to educate Indians and nurture a culture of appreciation for craft spirits.
To make this initiative come to life, Keshav is currently looking for 150 believers to come on board as founding members. The Early Bird Founding Membership saved for the first 50 people includes a one-time fee starting at Rs. 2,50,000, and there are only about 10 spots left in this category. The other founding members, upon joining, will have exclusive access to “high-end mixology, artisan spirits, master classes with distinguished experts;, nd a boutique that provides access to small and craft labels from around the world.” The most personalised aspect of a founding membership is that each member will have a personal vault in the Studio that can store up to 4 bottles, purchased as special prices. “It’s almost like a secret bottle club,” says Keshav excitedly. Once Vault Tasting Studio has its 150 founding members, it will work towards opening its doors to the public by, hopefully, early next year.
Feature image by: Vault Tasting Studio
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