Alright. Time to get on this one. This wee sip session went down a few weeks back and I’m only now digging deep to find the motivation (and inspiration) to share a few words for those who be interested.
My mates locally know I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunity and occasion to pull together an extensive range of malts, a good group of friends and a kickass playlist on my iPod. This time ’round it wasn’t the malts that dictated event time, it was the calendar. It had simply been too long since I hosted the gang. I hunted through samples, open bottles and sealed bottled and in the end found myself with thirteen different Amrut expressions at my disposal.
So…back to India we went. In a manner of speaking.
It’s no secret that I’m very much behind this brand. The malts are great, the local representation is by a group of good people I’m proud to call friends and the global brand ambassador, Ashok Chokalingam, is another of my brothers from abroad, whom I drop everything to see when those rare occasions permit. Further, the distillery makes incredibly innovative whiskies and serves them up as I like ’em: strong, non chill filtered, uncolored and with an eye to pushing boundaries. They have also been very honest with us in terms of cask types, batch releases, evaporation rates and age (though not always stated). But none of this matters an iota if the drams aren’t spectacular. Fortunately…they are.
I did want to mention something. I had a bit of a revelation not long ago, as relates to young whisky such as Amrut that benefits from the idea of ‘accelerated maturation’. Many like to say that these subtropical malts taste like very mature malts from Scotland (or elsewhere). I’ve said this myself on occasion. While not far off on the sentiments, I think I need to offer a better observation. It’s not so much that they exactly mirror older malts on a time ratio basis, as it is that they hit a state of full maturity so much younger. The characteristics are sometimes similar (i.e. Greedy Angels 8), though not always, but what does matter is that there is a point where the spirit and wood have been together long enough. And recognizing and working with that crux is exactly what Amrut has perfected.
Anyway…a few of us gathered and drank. And laughed. And drank some more. We went through all thirteen, took some sketchy ‘shout along’ tasting notes and just simply reveled in company and intoxication.
…and while it would have been brilliant to finish off with a dram of Greedy Angels…well…beggars can’t be choosers.
As an aside…it must be an absolute blast to be part of either the blending team or the marketing department at Amrut. These guys and gals seem like they’re having way too much fun. Creativity is at an unparalleled height here, as many of these releases can attest.
Just to be clear, these notes below are from five guys shouting out their thoughts. In many cases there were disagreements. And they’re also not broken into nose, palate, etc. It was just sort of a running stream of bullshit. Articulate bullshit, bullshit nevertheless. Enjoy!
Single Malt (46% abv) – Orange zest. Doughy and bready. Fresh scones. Slight farmy-ness. Nice spices. Somewhat salty. Homemade Play Dough. Somewhat bitter on finish.
Cask Strength 2012 Batch 17 (61.8% abv) – More fruits now. Eucalytpus. Pine. Perfume-y. Salty. Chocolate-y on the palate. Orange, as expected. A bit of mince. Cinnamon and other spices. Powdered ginger. Oaky notes on the palate. Slightly bitter finish again.
Cask Strength 2007 (61.9% abv) – Softer still. Spicy. Substantial bourbon cask notes. Fennel/anise. Jujubes. Orange and chocolate. Oaky and more spices. Short finish, said one.
Fusion Batch 40 (50% abv) – Leather. Fruity and zesty. Orange candies. Vanilla. Fairly light mouthfeel. Tart citrus zest (orange rind, actually). Baking spices. Light peat.
Two Continents (50% abv) – Almost tropical. Mandarin. Pineapple. Tangerine. Sugar cookies. A lot of fruit on the palate too. Coconut oil. Vanilla cookies or cakes. Creamsicles. Pepper or chili. Sweet, juicy finish.
Herald (60.8% abv) – Less fruits than on the Two Continents. Less doughy too. Orange fruits. Red jujubes. Cinnamon. More chocolate on the palate than on the nose. Bitter chocolate, that is. Pops on the palate.
Single Cask #2701 “Bengal Tiger” (56.5% abv) – Sharper now. Tangy, zesty notes. A bit of a farmy-ness to it. Butter. Creamy and leathery. A little wine-heavy on the palate. Touch of peat. Toffee/caramel. Black jujube on the palate. A bit of a savoury note.
Intermediate Sherry Batch 05 (57.1% abv) – A lot of fruit. Very jammy. Candied fruits and sugar-coated fruit notes. Chocolate. Raspberry and cherry. Dough. Orange zest. Slight savouriness again. Cola. This one was universally adored this eve.
Portonova Batch 1 (62.1% abv) – Almond and spice. Dr. Pepper. Raspberry. Spiced mince and jam. Berries. Does NOT smell like port. Ginger. Sooooo fruity on the palate. Milk chocolate and orange peels. Very dessert-like. Rich and almost surreal.
Naarangi (50% abv) – Huge orange and spice notes. Citrus oils. The fruits are very lively on this one. The palate is a little disappointing compared to the vibrancy of the nose. Vanilla. Lots of candies and fruit notes. A little too sweet. Almost liqueur-like.
Kadhambam (50% abv) – Coffee. Orange marmalade and citrus zest. Berry jam. Thick, juicy arrival. Chewy and juicy. Syrupy. A lot of spiced chocolate. Cinnamon. Slightly bitter on the palate. Bittersweet chocolate. Spicy. Mouthwatering.
Spectrum (50% abv) – Savoury. Sulphur? (said one or two…though I say not). Rubber bands. Overcooked fruits. Coffee. Toffee. Burnt caramel. Thick jammy-ness. Cola syrup. Dark chocolate caramels. Smoke. Nougat.
Peated Cask Strength 2009 Batch 03 (62.8% abv) – Peat. Earth. Leather. A touch of smoke. Still a lot of fruit. And definitely still notes of orange, of course. Universally loved again, but let’s face it…everyone was a little ‘drunk-ish by now.
Thanks to Jay, Dave, Tone and Danny for helping make these disappear and more importantly…helping cobble together the rather scrambly tasting notes above. Appreciate the memories, boys.
– Images & words: Curt