Imagine sitting in a room surrounded by nothing but the intoxicating aroma of peaty whisky where you go through a sensorial experience of a truly smoky malt that transports you to the Islay. Or just hopping from kiosk to kiosk, discovering new cocktails, making new friends and learning something new. The Vault Festival is all about people discovering new spirits, study them, experience them, discuss about them, even if they aren’t drinkers,” begins Keshav Prakash, founder of the festival who wants to call it a “meeting ground for a community that loves to celebrate life”.
What’s your drink?
It truly is a good season for India’s drinking scene. From an incredible surge of brands born in India to a much more evolved customer base, spirit companies are having a field day, and The Vault Festival intends to give this trend a serious boost. “The consumer today is far more aware than it used to be; they want to know more, and this festival is more for spirit aficionados to meet brands rather than brands to meet consumers. This is not a brand activation playground,” Keshav clarifies.
The event is expected to see the participation of approximately 60-plus international and Indian craft spirit makers with immersive experience zones and workshops, tasting sessions and much more.
As we discuss more on what’s on the charts for the festival, Keshav adds that there has been a serious rise in the ‘bar at home’ culture, and with good reason too.
“What I'm seeing and just being on the ring side and absorbing things, what has happened is there's been a massive increase in the amount of people of legal drinking age. We have one of the world's largest populations under 30, and that means we have added a whopper of people into the legal drinking age who are taking up to discovering drinks, right?” Keshav says, adding, “That makes us one of the world's top three markets for, you know, anything to do with.”
Drink at home
This development, Keshav says, has trickled into homes as well. “I cannot call it a trend, it’s in our culture to entertain people at home. And there’s this social liberalisation. Drinking at home is not seen as a taboo any longer, and the fact that we love to entertain more at home and the fact that when guests come, we like to make the whole experience as personalised as possible means that you know there is so much more opportunity that's created,” he explains.
And with this, Keshav says that there has been another massive development. “The days when people used to be loyal to one specific brand, mostly because of availability, are gone. What they are loyal to are their experiences. The spirit industry in India is now heavily democratised. Even the small of brands has the chance to really strike it big as long as there is a pedigree and genuineness in the story. The market has just exploded, and has quadrupled in the past five years,” he explains.
Fun in a glass
Zoning back to the festival, a whole year of work has gone into the curation of The Vault Festival for 2024. “A lot of research and work has gone into this and for a consumer, there will be a lot to go through. We’ve of course organised these tiny glasses for tastings so that people don’t get drunk,” Keshav says with a laugh. “For those who like a little bit of fun, consume knowledge, pick up trends, we’ve also got mini masterclasses, experiences and even food pairing conversations,” he adds.
Aside from liquor brands, some rather interesting F&B names are partnering up with the festival as well. There’s House of Mala, a pop-up summer club in Mumbai that’s come on board, Blue Tokai will be their coffee partner (because how can one not have coffee), Countertop, the experimental lab out of Goa is also setting up shop, Sidecar, the award-winning bar from Delhi has also signed up. “It’s going to be quite an experience,” Keshav signs off.
The Vault is being held on February 17 and 18 at Jio World Garden, Mumbai.