By Rupert Wheeler

The Road to Bangalore

Bagpipes and haggis...where else but India
As detailed in the last issue, I had been invited to attend the awards ceremony of Icons of Whisky India 2014. This turned out to be a long weekend with my arriving at 4.20am on Friday and returning in the very early hours of Monday morning. However, in that time I was able to really absorb an enormous amount of Indian culture and cuisine. Sandeep Arora and Suragita Singh, my Indian hosts, encouraged me to eat as many of the local delicacies as possible and I became extremely fond of Indian style breakfasts - a very long way from my traditional museli. The awards themselves were to be a true example of Indian pomp and ceremony with the mass bands of bagpipers piping me into the hall and up on to the stage. It was particularly Scottish in its theme and there was even an addressing of the haggis conducted brilliantly by Charles Maclean, the well known whisky writer. He was in India on a tastings tour and other whisky ambassadorial duties.Speaking of which, the British deputy high commissioner was in attendance to present one of the awards. All in all, it was a wonderful introduction to India and I hope to return next year.After my call out for feedback from you readers, I am pleased to say I have received a number of very detailed emails in certain instances, of what readers like and don't like in the magazine. All of these suggestions have been noted and I hope many of your ideas, as well as new ideas from our contributing editors, will be put in place. It's extremely difficult to please all of the people all of the time, but I?hope we have gone some way in taking our readers' comments on board.Our main theme for this issue is Austalia and Tasmania with a tongue in cheek tour undertaken by Chris Middleton using a private jet for transport and no expense spared. It's amazing what you can get for your money these days. Seáneen Sullivan, who has just been appointed our contributing editor in Ireland, and who knows Australia very well, has visited the only whisky distillery in Western Australia, Great Southern. I was particularly interested to read that much of the energy used in the distillery comes from the wind power taken off the coast of neighbouring King George's Sound. Surely more should be done in this country and elsewhere for distilleries to start using alternative power sources. I?know that Adnams, for instance, in Southwold are extremely involved in alternative power solutions. There are two features in this issue that relate to 'going back to school.' The first by Joel Harrision on his trip to The Irish Whiskey Academy at Midleton Distillery in County Cork. Although nervous to begin with, it would appear that Joel relished the opportunities to learn more about distilling. The course was run in a 'non-powerpoint environment', which certainly appeals to me, and there was use of some very interesting blackboards with brilliant diagrams. The course tutor broke the day down by moving out of the 'classroom' into the distillery, which again seems a good way to approach this type of subject. Annabel, on the other hand, attended a course at The Compass Box Blending School which runs regular courses on the art of blending. The course encourages the participants to attempt to make their own blends.Our bars guide is on Charleston and, although small in size, it appears to pack in some very interesting places to sample a dram. We are always looking out for new bars that we can feature in the magazine, so if you have a particularly favourite haunt then please let me know.We have just started our Icons of Whisky awards for 2015 and the first of these is conducted in the United States. We decided to launch an all-new nominations and voting process and we were delighted with the response with well over 4,000 votes from those in the industry. Details of all the results can be found on page 16. There have been a number of new books published on whisky this year and we intend to have a full round up in our next issue; just in time to bring you some exciting reads for 2015.