Everyone has their own tastes and preferences and all liquor cannot be made to suit every taste and palate, says this liquor blender.
Walking us through his typical day at work, JP Ray, (Deputy General Manager with a private distillery), says that the art of blending the perfect bottle, comes with years of practice and perseverance.
JP Ray is a MSc from Magadh University and has been trained by experts to master the blending technique with brands such as Fosters choice, Fosters Blue, fosters black, Vodka and other Indian made Foreign Liquor.
With an experience of more than 20 years in liquor blending, he is now able to name the spirit with its brand name, with just a sip!
Ray spent his early days in Maharashtra, training at a distillation plant at Malegaon and Aurangabad.
He lived in Pune before he moved to the other parts of the country, to work with leading liquor companies.
Ray, who is currently posted in Patna says that his job is subject to a lot of relocation, which leaves him with no option but to live without his family, most often.
“In the twenty years that I have been in this industry, I have worked in almost all the states where liquor is not prohibited and that meant frequent promotions and transfers.
A person who is interested in coming into the liquor blending industry should have at least a graduate degree in Science. They can also opt for an alcohol technology course (also available in Pune). Once the candidate is academically eligible, he is trained by the specific companies in various art of liquor making.
I cannot uproot my entire family and keep shifting and changing my children’s schools. Which is why, I stay alone, but keep visiting my family very often.”
His 10-hour day typically starts with visiting the factory and overseeing the processes from the previous day. It also involves a lot tasting of samples at every step, for which he needs to be prepared.
“We need to keep tasting the concoction to check for consistency and taste of the final product. Hence we have to ensure our palate and ability to taste is well looked after.
Our initial training for becoming a blender starts with tasting different kinds of liquids, spirits and water for developing their tastes.
After adding the various taxes imposed of liquor, each bottle cost nearly three times its cost of production.
The more mature the liquid, the higher it will cost. The entire account is maintained by the excise department of the state.
“To keep a check on this, I sometimes avoid having products that have a sour or bitter taste. Also, the blender must gargle with demineralised water to neutralise his tongue, so that he can gauge the exact taste. The person should also avoid tobacco, nicotine and other similar products, which often kill the taste buds.”
He also adds that, “As a blender, it is very crucial for us to keep the entire process running seamlessly and to keep the liquid in proper temperature, taste and consistency. There are times when the consistency of the liquid, or colour or taste goes haywire. This is when we must be quick in taking decisions, to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.”
Ray also shares that since his work involves working with alcohol and tasting them most often, he usually skips any drinking on the weekends which comes across as weird to many of his friends.
Ray remarks that even his family cannot complain as his job entails working with alcohol throughout the day! On his days off, Ray likes watching movies, catching up on pending tasks or just relaxing with his friends, if he is not visiting his family.
Sharing with us the fine art of blending, Ray says, “It takes minimum 4-5 days for the entire process to complete, from reduction to pouring the whisky into the bottles.
While most of the process remains the same for both whisky and vodka, the final stage of mixing Malt spirit and colour are skipped in the case of vodka.
Blending And Distilling In A Nutshell :
“Demineralised water is the main content of any liquor. Fermentation and distillation are the next process through which we get rectified spirit, which is then used to acquire ethyl alcohol that is used to make Indian made foreign liquor.
Ethyl alcohol or natural spirit is mixed with demineralised water to reach to a strength of 25 degree UP (Under proof) in the reduction stage. After that, it is left for a day for the exothermic reaction to take place in huge tanks. The second day the strength of the content is measured by a Hydrometer and adjustments are made accordingly by mixing spirit and water accordingly.
On the third day, Malt spirit and colour is mixed (Caramel) in the reduced clear liquid acquired according to the Optical Density (OD) of the colour to be maintained by each brand. The next day, the essence flavour (if needed) is poured and is left for maturation for at least 72 hours after which the liquid is ready for bottling.”
#Alcohol is injurious to health and Pune365 does not advocate its consumption.
The views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondent and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
#First Published in June 2018
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