At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.
And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.
The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.
Whiskey, wine, mining, marketing and riding—those are the ingredients that our Mug Holder of the month, Swaroop, is made of!
Why do you think you were selected as the Mug Holder of the month?
I’m totally clueless!
So you have no idea why?
I don’t know based on what I was selected. Maybe because I’m a little too regular here. I’ve been coming here every Saturday for the last three and a half years.
Are you from Bangalore?
Ah, yes. I’ve stayed here for about 17 years. But I’m actually from Andhra. So I’ve done my schooling in Hyderabad, after which I moved here, somewhere in 1999.
So what do you do here?
I head the marketing for a bunch of pubs in the city.
Were you always doing marketing or is this something recent?
Actually, I was into mining before this. My family business. This is definitely something new for me.
Mining was the family business! How did the shift from mining to marketing happen?
We were into granite mining, in Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Telangana.
Is that fun?
Not really, but it’s pretty hectic. I was into mining for a good four years, and then I shifted to marketing.
We had to streamline the mining business a little and after that was done, I looked at different things to do. I wanted to do something that was close to pub culture, to understand the way this industry works. That was the whole motivation for this shift.
Where did this passion for pub culture come from?
Well, it comes from a love for whiskey and wine.
Whiskey and wine, but not beer?
But then pubs…?
I drink beer only at Toit, and microbreweries. I’m really not much of a beer drinker otherwise.
Why didn’t you just do marketing for a vineyard or distillery?
That could have happened, I guess, but this is just something I’m attached to. Pubs are a space I wanted to explore.
This was closest thing I could think of, keeping in mind my wine and whiskey interest. Actually, I wanted to set up something of my own but I don’t think the time is quite right.
What’s happening with the mining now?
It’s going on. Things take quite a bit of time to streamline, took us three and a half years to streamline the entire process.
When did your fixation with wine and whiskey start?
Started about five years ago, and I’ve been working on it ever since.
I really enjoy drinking whiskeys and I spend a fortune on them on a yearly basis. Whenever there is a possibility of getting a bottle from abroad, I don’t miss a chance. I spend a bomb on it, to be honest.
What kind of whiskies do you like most?
Single malts, mainly. Not a big fan of blended whiskies.
Since you’ve been curating your whiskey palate for a while now, how many have you tried?
I’ve tried a little over hundred.
And how many left on your list of whiskies to try?
I keep looking at particular reserves and limited edition whiskies every now and then.
Cragganmore is something I really like. And the second on the list is Ardbeg, while the third is something I picked up pretty recently, a few months ago, Bruichladdich (Octomore). This one is supposed to be the peatiest whiskey in the world, spent quite a bit trying to get it.
Tried for a year and a half also, to get it, because it is a limited edition whiskey. I was trying for the 7.1 but ended up with the 7.2.
What is the one whiskey you want to have but has eluded you thus far?
Well, I did have the Yamazaki and I’ve been trying to get another bottle for some time, but it’s just not happening.
Haven’t built an incredible sourcing network by now?
I would definitely do whatever it takes, but it’s just not happening.
When you say whatever it takes, what is the greatest length you’ve gone to acquire a bottle?
I was on a call for four hours to get a bottle. The Octomore. My friend was in Changi airport, on his way back, and I made him go around all the terminals possible to get this bottle for me.
That is a good friend!
Yes, yes, definitely a good friend.
For a novice, how do you tell a good whiskey from a bad whiskey?
I think it’s left to personal choice. There are tasting notes, but personal opinion is something you can’t mess around with.
Are you this passionate about wine as well?
I don’t know, for some odd reason, the wine fixation wore off and has suffered a downfall and I’ve just been continuing with whiskeys.
So how come you end up spending so much time at Toit?
I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I work at another bar, then I come to Toit, and then I go home. I come here for the Red.
After drinking the beers at Toit, I have lost the palate for bottled beer.
When you’re not doing your marketing work, or convincing friends for hours to bring you whiskey bottles, what else do you do?
I’m into riding as well. I ride bikes. I take my time to plan the itinerary, takes me a good six to eight months, and then go for the ride.
What bike do you ride?
Royal Enfield. Classic 350.
I take off for about a month, after saving all my leaves.
What was the most recent trip you did?
I had actually planned a 45 days ride across the North East, but unfortunately had to cancel that because of work pressures. Before that, I did a trip to Ladakh for 25 days.
I do short trips often. But Ladakh is like the Holy Grail for riders, so took me some time to plan that out.
Bikes, whiskeys and beers—anything else you want to add to that?
But my first love will always be whiskey.