Prakash is quite the opposite of a whisky snob. He is engaging, charismatic and has a penchant for storytelling.
If you are someone who is clued in to the world of fine whiskies, you should have Keshav Prakash on speed dial. The founder and curator of The Vault, India’s most important whisky importing firm, and also the only certified cognac educator in the country, Prakash has recently added another feather to his cap. The Keepers of the Quaich, an international society established by the Scotch whisky industry, recently inducted Prakash as a life member.
This prestigious society celebrates the commitment of those who produce and promote the world’s finest distilled spirit, and to date, just over 2,600 men and women from over 100 countries have received the honour of becoming the ‘Keeper of the Quaich’. To be inducted into this club, the new Keepers must have worked for a minimum of five years in the industry, and their nomination is by virtue of industry recognition of their personal contribution to Scotch whisky.
In the last five years, Prakash has diligently worked to create access to products from boutique independent distilleries, bridging the gap for handcrafted spirits in India, enriching the experience of whisky connoisseurs and enthusiasts. Due to his knowledge of the spirit and changing markets, today, The Vault is India’s leading whisky import house, representing over 30 small and independent distillers from around the world. The Vault’s curated collection of handcrafted spirits is available at the Duty Free Travel Retail section of all major International airports in India. Along with that, his master classes and tasting experiences for corporate and direct consumers are aimed at designing a new culture of fine spirits appreciation. Sample this: last year, The Vault facilitated the sale of a bottle of the world’s oldest single malt to a private buyer of Indian origin. Being allotted even one of the 100 bottles that were available is a testament to how far they’ve come as distributors, because no one knows if there will ever be another 75-year old bottle of whisky.
Prakash is quite the opposite of a whisky snob. He is engaging, charismatic and has a penchant for storytelling. His former career of ad film-making aids that. He says that getting too caught up in the composition of one’s whisky isn’t always the best way to appreciate it. The Vault hosts food and whisky pairing sessions and he often conducts sessions with companies like IBM, Etihad and Mercedes-Benz. “I know the art of telling a story in 30 seconds, so I know how to curate a moment for a person,” he said in an interview with MW last year.
Prakash’s schedule usually includes extensive travel across the globe and connecting with numerous communities and distilleries over locally brewed and distilled spirits. For alcohol enthusiasts, that sounds like the dream job. More importantly, it also reflects Prakash’s passion for the spirit. But, although backpacking across the globe in the pursuit of a good drink sounds like a gap-year fantasy, it takes years to educate oneself and form an evolved taste to guide customers well. “Bringing your palate to a level where you can appreciate fine whiskies is a challenge. It took me a year to learn to appreciate cognac,” he says. His expansive knowledge on the subject allows The Vault to possess a pretty exhaustive portfolio, which sources single malts from American, Taiwanese, Tasmanian and Scottish distilleries, among others. Nearly every category of distilled spirits can be found in The Vault, with mezcal and gin being the latest additions to the collection. Interestingly, one would assume that such well-aged spirits decorate the bars of an older demographic, but Prakash’s interactions suggest that people in their 30s and early 40s are eagerly experimenting with their drinks these days. The next milestone to look forward to for Prakash is the `Master of the Quaich’, and that involves another ten years of working on his vision – to make The Vault a go-to place for fine spirits experiences.