How a Former Journalist Became India’s First Female Whisky Ambassador

India's first qualified woman whisky ambassador Tanvi Rustagi is out to break a few stereotypes about the drink that is labelled ‘liquid gold’.

Her search for meaning led her to drink, literally! During a break in her career as a journalist, Tanvi Rustagi attended the wedding of a friend, whose father was a whisky-lover. When he offered Tanvi a glass, she refused. “He kind of took offence and decided to give me a crash course during the course of the wedding. And that’s when my love affair with whisky began.”

As she read more about “this amazing spirit”, Tanvi was intrigued to know that Indians drink about half of the world’s whisky and yet don’t know much about it. That’s how she got the idea to launch a knowledge blog called The Whisky Works, which is now a whisky experience and consulting company. She also went on to become India’s first certified woman whisky ambassador.

But that was never the plan.

Tanvi was born and brought up in Delhi, where she completed her schooling and then headed to Symbiosis University Pune for her B.Com. She did her post-graduation in journalism from Mumbai, and then joined the media. “Of course, it was all a utopian dram that when you become a journalist, you get to make a difference,” she recalls, wryly.

Having worked at top media organisations for a few years, Tanvi grew increasingly disconnected from her work, and decided to try her hand at event management, a field that was booming at the time.

But personal compulsions forced her to take a break from work, and Tanvi moved to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, where her parents lived. She spent the next few years travelling and exploring new careers including working as a creative director at the Woodpecker International Film Festival.

Tanvi Rustagi whisky ambassadorAnd then whisky happened. Tanvi delved deeper into the subject, and decided to see where it took her. As it happened, it took her to Scotland.

She travelled to the land of mountain wildernesses and Scotch whisky. There she studied the first level of distilling, completed the Whisky Ambassador course, and visited distilleries across the country.

“On my return to India, I realised that I am the only woman and only the second person from India to have done the course,” she recalls. “I love what I do and I especially love how much, my guests and I both, learn during each and every of my tastings and curations,” she says.

The 34-year-old notes that when it comes to promoting whiskies, most brands still prefer bringing a man on board. But with time, she hopes to help break these stereotypes.


Tanvi Rustagi on how to drink whisky

Tanvi Rustagi whiskey
A guest at one of Tanvi’s tasting events

First things first: when you’re drinking whisky and not tasting it, you can drink it whichever way you want. With water, ice, neat or in the form of a cocktail. There is no right way to drink whisky. It’s all about how you like it. Of course, there are some whiskies we should just be respectful of because of their age. Literally. Other than that, it’s a free ‘whisky’ world.

But when you taste a whisky, there are certain rules to follow.

Find a wide bodied but small-rimmed glass, something like a wine glass. Add about half an ounce of whisky to it.

Swirl the glass like you’d swirl during a wine tasting and nose the whisky from a little bit of a distance.

Add a few drops of water to open up the whisky and then take a sip.

And voila! You’re tasting whisky like a connoisseur. Whisky is a spirit full of flavours if you’re willing to appreciate it. And anybody can appreciate it. Slàinte mhath!

Photo credit: Tanvi Rustagi. First published in the April 2018 issue of eShe magazine

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