Feb 282017
 

Amrut Naarangi111

50% abv

Score:  87/100

 

Naarangi – Hindi for ‘orange’.  This one just as easily have been called ‘Amrut cheekily skates up to the edge of the rules, flashes a bare ass at the powers that be, then skates away laughing’.  But then again…what rules does Amrut have to follow?  Short answer: None but those they make for themselves, which essentially means satisfying their own moral compass and innate sense of curiosity.  Ok, ok…and that would have been a hell of a stupid name for a whisky.  But you get the point, yeah?

As you know, under the regulations laid out by the SWA (Starchy Withered Assholes, if I’ve heard the acronym spelled out correctly), Scotch malt whisky can contain nothing more than water, yeast and barley (oh, yeah…and seemingly as much of that nasty over-bitter artificial coloring you may wish to add).  No infusions, no creative barrel play, no true innovation.  Sometimes this is a good thing.  We whisky codgers are nothing if not suckers for the purity of tradition.  Having said that, how does the category ever advance if the forward-thinkers are forced to work in hobbles and shackles?  Quite a balancing act, I’d say.  And one which I’ve not really attained my own philosophically enlightened vantage for yet.

Anyway…though not bound to the sacred tenets like the great producers in Celtic-land, Amrut has chosen to play it square.  They did not infuse the whisky with orange (like another Maverick whisky maker did in the not too distant past), instead they infused the sherry that previously lived in the cask with orange.  Ergo, when the barrel was dumped the residual oils and flavors from the peels would be left clinging as tightly to the staves as Trump supporters to a gun law.  When Amrut new make spirit was splashed inside these wooden beds for the long sleep (well…not too long in the case of Bangalore’s unforgiving climate) the effect was obviously immediate and massive.  This is a heck of a unique dram, and really is only a hop, skip and a jump from a liqueur.

Nose:  Huge orange and spice notes.  Citrus oils.  The fruits are very lively on this one, both juicy, over-the-top ripe ones and dry oily figgy ones.  Some chocolate.  Immediately recognizable as Amrut, in spite of the tomfoolery.  A slight pastry or dough note.  Vanilla.

Palate:   The palate is a little disappointing compared to the vibrancy of the nose.  Lots of candies and fruit notes, and actually maybe a little too sweet.  And also a little sharp and woody.  Lots of spice again.  Caramelized sugars.  Orange oil.  Syrupy.  Almost liqueur-like in both flavour and texture.

Thoughts:  Liked it a lot.  Not quite love, but sometimes it’s nice just to be ‘in like’.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
Dec 142016
 

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.

20161111_193850

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.

20161111_193947

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.

20161111_194503

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.

20161111_194644

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.

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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

 Posted by at 12:43 pm
Nov 222016
 

Amrut Spectrum20161111_205014

50% abv

Score:  92/100

 

I know more than a few out there have been waiting for me to get around to sharing some thoughts on Amrut Spectrum.  I think, in fact, even one or two of the good folks behind the brand have been waiting.  If you expected a bit of a hook or a slice on this one (i.e. veering away from known territory) you may as well move on.  I’ll lay it on the line early here and you can read on or move on as you see fit.  The simple fact of the matter is that this is another ruddy brilliant dram from our mates in India.

The story on this one has already made the rounds.  Spectrum is a malt matured for three years in ex-bourbon barrels before being shunted for a further three and a half years into casks specially commissioned from alternating staves of five different barrel types: American, French and Spanish oak, as well as ex-PX and ex-Oloroso.  Neat, and beyond innovative, really, in an industry heavily governed by tradition and a lack of forward thinking.  The resulting profile is one rich in jammy fruit, almost molasses-thick sherried notes and rich, rich, rich helpings of dried fruits and coffee.  A couple mates of mine thought sulphur, but I beg to differ.  This is just heavily cooked whisky.  It’s beyond big and borders on over-cooked.  I like that though.  I’m a sucker for big sherry, and this fits the bill.

I can’t prepare you for this one.  Big, sub-tropical notes, dark fruits, cold coffee, bittersweet chocolate.  All in harmony.  Lovely and rich.  This is a small sipper though.  Meant to be enjoyed in wee sips over long hours of contemplation.  Not a malt for overindulgence, as the malt itself is an indulgence.

Nose:  Dark chocolate and jammy dark fruit.  Orange zest.  Slight smokiness.  Gooey toffee.  Furniture polish.  Almost a cola note.  Coffee.  Nougat.  Cherry, raspberry and even a hint of reduced blueberry.  Or more simply… a mixed berry jam.  Cinnamon, cardamom and burnt sugar.  Coffee liquor. Candied orange peel.  Can’t get over the depth of chewy chocolates, toffees and fruits.  Great melange.

Palate:  Whoa.  Big, dark and bordering on bitter.  In all the right ways, that is, being a beautiful balanced tannicity.  Smalls savouring sips are the way to go with a malt this deep and immersive.  Like an infused Kahlua of some sort.  Oily dried fruits and gooey jams.  More candied orange, but wrapped in chocolate (anyone tried the Bernard Callebaut chocolates like this?).  Cough syrup.  Nutty notes and hints of strong, rich rum.  Gooey, sticky dessert.

Thoughts:  Reminds a tick of some heavily sherries Kavalan, but has definite Amrut DNA.  50% abv is generous, but I want this even bigger…at least high 50s.  What Amrut can do in a few short years is simply incredible.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:37 am
Nov 082016
 

Amrut Single Cask #2701 “Bengal Tiger”138

56.5% abv

Score:  87.5/100

 

Alright.  Let’s get back to Amrut.  It’s been a while, I think.  This time a single cask release nicknamed ‘Bengal Tiger’ and bottled exclusively for the Canadian market.

As you all know by now, Amrut has long held a coveted spot in my top-tiered whiskies.  Their penchant for unbelievable consistency of quality and unprecedented innovation are second to none.  To further illustrate this latter point I’ll be tackling a couple other special releases from the distillery in the next few days.  But for now, let’s dig into a malt from Bangalore that sits just shy of six years old this time.

Full disclosure on the part of our Indian friends here: this one is a 2009 vintage bottled in 2015.  Unpeated Indian barley strong and bold at 56.5% abv.  The cask type says PX-sherry on the label, but I’m pretty certain this was at least partially bourbon-matured.  Could be the PX cask was the last bed it slept in.

And like most Amrut releases, this is another very special dram.  Rich in fruits, exotic spices uncharacteristic of Scottish single malt and bearing the DNA of Amrut all the way through, this is absolutely prototypical of the distillery.  Errr…sort of.

Here’s the rub.  And also the thing, I think, that speaks to the value of experience in writing about whisky.  This is not meant to be derisive, so bear with me.  If this whisky was tasted within the first hundred or couple hundred whiskies I’d tried – or was one of only a couple of Amrut expressions I had tasted – it would likely have scored higher.  It’s only exposure to the general category – and Amrut, in particular – plus an awful lot of time (and brain cells) spent building the experience that leads to the revelation that Amrut is usually even better than this.

Pretty gentle criticism, I know.

Nose:  Chilis.  Leather.  Marmalade.  Unbelievable amounts of savoury spice.  Sugar cookies.  Orange macaroons.  Candied ginger.  A lot cinnamon and heavy bourbon cask notes behind a curtain of dried fruits and mince.  Some milk chocolate.  Hot cross buns.
Salty dough.  Slightly peppery.

Palate:  Yep.  Amrut.  Tannic, surprisingly.  Immediately a big spicy arrival.  Orange oil.  Some raisin, orange and liqueur-soaked fruitcake.  Herbal notes.  Cinnamon buns.  A mix of wines and teas.  Chocolate and nut.

Thoughts:  Not my favorite Amrut, but man…I have weak criticisms to level at this one.  Even the distillery’s weakest are still head and shoulders above most of the industry.

 

– Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:22 pm
Jan 022014
 

Amrut Kadhambam018

50% abv

Score:  90/100

 

In one of the more innovative bits of cask play I’ve seen so far, Amrut has crafted yet another quirky single malt for general release.  Kadhambam means ‘mixture’ in the Tamil dialect, and that mixture they’re referring to is the casks themselves.  By that I mean that this malt got around more than Taylor Swift through Hollywood’s bachelor scene, with flings in alternately rum, sherry and brandy barrels.  As you can imagine, this leads to a very singular whisky.

I imagine some may be led to believe this would be much like a Frankenmalt with a very ‘manufactured’ profile.  Surprisingly, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  While definitely a bit of glorious tomfoolery, this is not a contrived whisky by any means.  Instead it is a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.  I like that.  A whisky with good integration where the cohesive whole is treat.

To be fair, this isn’t my favorite of Amrut releases, but it is good.  More than good actually.  Enough so that I squirreled away a couple of bottles for some future rainy day.  Or more likely just for inclusion in a couple of planned Amrut range tastings in future days.  

As you can see by the image above, this particular bottle I’m writing of is from Batch 1, in the days of Amrut’s big coffin box presentation.  Nowadays these releases come in a much more modest and compact presentation.  I’ve yet to try the newer batches, but if you can find one of these originals (limited to just a couple hundred bottles) do grab one.  If not…no worries…this is a distillery which is very dependable in terms of consistency.  I’m sure the newer editions are also likely spot on.

Nose:  Rich and spicy.  Cinnamon, nutmeg and butter.  Marzipan.  Melon.  Cantaloupe.  Cocoa.  Clove.  Orange oil.  Grape.  Spicy bread.  A sort of savoury note.  Putty.  A little bit of a wine note here, I think.

Palate:  Apple in caramel and cinnamon.  Bread.  Anise.  Big syrupy delivery and smooth development.  Creamy toffee and a molasses bitterness.  Over ripe fruits.  More chocolate.  Fruit leather.  Quite drying.  Apples on the finish.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Very well-composed.  The way this one unfolds is quite magic.  If you sit back and think about it, knowing what sort of casks are at play here, you can actually see the influence of all in the finished product.  Quite neat.  Speaks volumes to the skill of Amrut’s blender(s).  

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:51 am
Dec 132013
 

Amrut Single Cask #3436 (Bourbon Cask)Single Cask - Bourbon (425x640)

60% abv

Score:  92/100

 

The last, and quite frankly the best (at least in my humble opinion), of Amrut’s lastest spate of single cask releases bound for the European market.  This is a four year old malt matured in an ex-bourbon barrel.

With bourbon barrels only being a couple hundred litres in capacity, and Amrut’s incredibly high angel’s share, what the distillery was left with at the time of decanting was a mere 174 bottles at a massive bottling strength of 60% abv.  The sad reality is that this whisky is simply too damn good to be released in a batch so small.

Here’s hoping Amrut either a) floods the global market with scores of blindingly brilliant single cask releases (like this one), or b) opts to send all of these limited expressions to Calgary.  

I jest.  Sort of. 

Amrut’s single malt whisky is one which has shown itself to be highly malleable.  We’ve seen beautiful symbiosis between the spirit and peat, port, sherry, rum and combinations thereof.  But the true austere beauty of the malt is best shown in all its naked glory when it’s simply left to slumber in an ex-bourbon barrel.  The singular character of Amrut coming of age in the tight-grained spicy ex-bourbon barrels from the US results in an end product so beautifully balanced and clean, I’m left humbled and awed.   

There’s not a lot more to say really.  The whisky does the talking for me, and I’m just glad to have tasted it. 

Nose:  Creamy chocolate.  Almond and nutmeg.  A little bit of orange.  A fine dusting of cinnamon.  Very high quality hardwood (like you’d smell in a great wood-working shop).  Toasted marshmallow and vanilla.  Quite creamy and ‘doughy’.  Very much in the vein of the Herald or Two Continents.  Beautifully balanced nose.

Palate:  A huge delivery of pure Amrut familiarity.  By now, this is an unmistakable profile.  Warm melting Swiss chocolate.  Cinnamon-spiced cocoa.  Orange zest, mint and ginger.  Nice blend of dried spices.  Stunningly vibrant and tangy on the tongue.

In short:  Absolutely beautiful.  I adore Amrut matured in ex-bourbon.  You can see the purity of the exotic spirit shining through.  While I am a sucker for all of Amrut’s innovative and quirky limited releases, this simplicity is Amrut at its best.

(Thanks to Ashok Chokalingam, Amrut Brand Ambassador, for the opportunity to try these single casks)

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo: 

 Posted by at 10:12 am
Dec 132013
 

Amrut Single Cask #2712 (Port Pipe – Peated)Single Cask- Port Pipe (425x640)

59% abv

Score:  90/100

 

Next up from the recent three malt run of single casks Amrut has just released for the European market…a peated variant matured in a port pipe. 

This isn’t exactly a new idea, but nor is it one that has been executed very often.  Amrut’s take on ‘peat and port’ should be rather interesting, simply due to the spicy and exotic character of their spirit.  There’s a luciousness of fruit that collides with a smoky, ashy character in marriages of this sort.  Something I, personally, find quite appealing, but I concede it can be a bit of a shock to the system for the unprepared. 

Before getting to tasting notes however, just a few thoughts on this release…

Port pipes are large vessels.  Give or take 500 litres, I believe.  The numbers on the packaging (bottle and box) tell the whole story regarding the incredibly unforgiving environmental conditions Amrut is maturing under.  43% of the racked spirit has been lost to evaporation during its four years in the barrel, leaving behind a mere 357 bottles.  This evaporation loss is often referred to as the ‘angel’s share’, as most of you will already know, so it’s not hard to see why Amrut has a malt in their stables called ‘Greedy Angels’, huh? 

I’ve already lauded Amrut’s attempts at transparency in a previous review of their new PX cask, but I want to reiterate…the clarity of information on these releases is well nigh unprecented.  They’re not hiding anything to do with provenance, the youthfulness of their whiskies or the implications of their finances from us.  Check out the images of these three bottles (on each of these reviews here on ATW).  The labels tell tales of the barley being Indian or Scottish; of  the strength of character not to hide behind the shield of an ‘NAS’ brand; and by showing us the loss rate, it’s a little easier to understand Amrut’s pricing tiers (which are entirely reasonable, I would – and have – argue(d).)

All of that aside, this is a really fine single malt.  Unmistakeably unique and absolutely worth hunting down.  The playful interaction between salty iodine notes and big plummy grape notes are a mouthwatering combination, and leave me lamenting the fact that this dram won’t be making the seafaring voyage to our foreign and exotic shores.  Le sigh.

Nose:  A lot of really lovely chocolate.  A fair bit of peat that manages to stand rather independent of the smoke.  Damp ash meets dark earthy soil (very cool nuances here!).  Iodine and grape.  Fresh orange juice.  There’s a dark smokiness, but it’s very juicy, not dry.  I can still pick up on that typical Amrut spicy cereal note even through all of the peat and port.  Surprisingly creamy with a bit of a vanilla skeleton.

Palate:  This is salty dram.  One that has a great meaty/sour mix (in an absolutely pleasant tingling sensory way).  I love it.  Smoked fruits…weird but awesome.  A lot of juicy grape and a bit of citrus.  This carries a similar profile to the BenRiach Solstice (which I also loved, incidentally), but do note…the Solstice was a fifteen year old whisky…while this is only four!

This is single malt for the forward-thinking.  It’s a little outside the norm, and definitely a whisky that will be hard to forget.  Hopefully Amrut will consider adding something like this as a part of the core range, or at least something to be released in small batches in an ongoing basis.

(Thanks to Ashok Chokalingam, Amrut Brand Ambassador, for the opportunity to try these single casks)

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:

 Posted by at 8:15 am
Dec 132013
 

Amrut Single Cask #2703 (PX Sherry)Single Cask- PX (425x640)

56.5% abv

Score:  88/100

 

One of three new European exclusive releases from Amrut.  While I was hoping to nab at least one of each, I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  I s’pose I’ll have to drown my innumerable sorrows in drams of Intermediate Sherry and Portonova.  ‘It’s a hard knock life’, and all that.

In a nifty move that I think others in the industry should follow, Amrut has put a clear and concise little ‘info table’ front and center on their packaging here.  Many single cask releases share several of these details (albeit often spread out all over the label/packaging), but Amrut have gone a step further in a very forthright approach.  Also…again in a step of innovation…they’ve offered up the stats on their maturation loss.  Whisky nerds: delight!  One more bit of trivia for us to engage in endless forum debate over.  Honestly…I love this.  It would be (and will be) a great point of discussion comparing these stats across ages, warehouses and continents.

In the case of this young (4 years, 2 months) Pedro Ximenez-matured Amrut, the total volume loss was 39% of the initial casking.  Wow.  Incredible that a sherry butt (give or take 500 litres) only nets 345 bottles a mere four years after hitting wood.  While the loss of volume by the time of bottling is comparable to a well-matured Scotch whisky, fortunately for us so is the state of maturation.  As is typical of Amrut, this is a whisky aged beyond its years.

Details aside, for those of you who just want to know if it’s good…the short answer is ‘yes’.  Not my favorite Amrut, but a tasty addition to their expansive range.  To be completely honest, however, this one feels just slightly ‘over’ to me.  Like maybe it should have been bottled a few months earlier.  Imagine…a whisky that is merely a toddler in terms of human years as being at the cusp of over-matured.  Having said that…this one still stands tall enough to see over the heads of many others out there.  A solid offering again.

Nose:  Surprisingly, there is a little bit of tart red apple right up front.  I’ve never picked that up on an Amrut before.  Good strong cigar leaf and well-oiled leather.  Sharp chocolate notes.  It’s still easy to pick up malted barley here.  A lot of spices, complexly married into a neat whole.  Sort of reminds of an older Dalmore on the nose.

Palate:  There is almost a meatiness here, met with malt.  Coffee and over-roasted nuts.  Dark toffee and even darker dried fruits.  Burnt orange peelings.  Very tannic.  Very thick.  Apple skins on the finish.  This is heavy and oppressive sherry.  Great late evening drink.

I’m not usually a water in whisky kinda guy, but this one swims very well.  I’d actually recommend a few drops of water to cushion the more overt sherry notes and bring out more of those sublime sweet notes that PX is known for.  A couple drops of water adds even more harmony and balance.  A very different Amrut from what I’m used to.  Neat to see another side.

(Thanks to Ashok Chokalingam, Amrut Brand Ambassador, for the opportunity to try these single casks)

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo: 

 Posted by at 7:08 am
Oct 102013
 

Amrut Greedy Angelsamrut-greedy-angels-whisky

50% abv

Score:  94/100

 

So…let me tell you a couple of stories to begin with.  Get comfortable.  This will be a long one.  My apologies in advance.

The first of these tales took place many years back, when I was a feisty, snotty little thing still in high school and wrapped up in the early throes of teenage rebellion.  I was taking a creative writing class at the time, and an optional one at that.  A mate of mine and I would sit in the back of the room, lobbing spitballs and sneaking out here and there when we could get away with it.  The thing was…I could get away with it.  The writing came naturally to me; I always turned in my work on time; and the teacher, for whatever reason, liked me.  At one point though, when she asked me to stay after class, I figured I’d finally run her patience into the ground (or she’d finally tied the wasps’ nest of spitballs back to my friend and I).  Not so, however.  Instead she proceeded to tell me I would be getting full marks for the class and that for the rest of the year I could write whatever I wanted.  Effectively a blank cheque, due to her belief that what I was turning in was light years ahead of what she was getting from the others in the class or expected at this level.

I tell you this not in narcissism (indeed I feel very uncomfortable drawing the analogy in public)… but simply to illustrate a point.  The reality is that I’m pretty damn close to awarding Amrut that same blank cheque.  And I don’t feel a damn bit of discomfort at that.  They’ve released expression after expression of such uniformly high quality that I simply don’t expect to encounter a subpar release from the distillery.

Those of you more adept than others at reading between the lines will recognize this for what it is: a disgustingly overt and somewhat gauche bias.  I love Amrut.  This is not unconditional love, however, it’s merely a well-earned ackowledgement of a great distillery at the height of their creative powers.

Moving on…

The second story is much more contemporary.  And topical, I might add.  Several months back, a few mates and I gathered over many a dram of Amrut (and other whiskies too) with Mr. Ashok Chokalingam of Amrut fame.  Ashok is the global ambassador for the brand.  He’s also a really nice guy who I immediately took a shine to, and would now call a friend.  Anyway…over the course of the evening we hit upon the topic of maturation in the unforgiving Indian climate, and the rate of evaporation (or ‘angel’s share’) that Amrut was accustomed to dealing with.  I believe 12% per annum was the figure Ashok mentioned.  One of the guys made a comment to the effect of ‘damn greedy angels’ or something along those lines.  Ashok kind of blanched before pleading with us not to share what he was about to reveal.  He said he had to let us know now, just so we weren’t under the impression a few months down the road that he had cribbed our idea.  He turned his cell phone to us and displayed a mock-up label for a new Amrut expression called…you guessed it…’Greedy Angels’.

Since that day I’ve been dying to get my hands on this, the oldest whisky ever released by one of my favorite distilleries.

Now finally turning to the present…

Just days ago I met Ashok over a couple pints and a quick bite here in Calgary.  He had a little box of  treats for me, and this was just one of the samples he had brought along.

For any of you still hanging in there after my long winded lead-in…let’s get on to the drink…

Greedy Angels was released in late 2012 to celebrate the 60th birthday of the brand’s chairman, Mr. Neel Jagdale.  The 142 (or 144?  I’ve seen different numbers published) bottles produced were all that remained of two full casks mellowing in the sweltering conditions of Bangalore.  An incredible loss, on the one hand, but on the other…an incredible gain for the whisky world in what did remain.

Nose:  It is simply mind-boggling that this is an 8 year old whisky.  If I was told that this was a 30 year old Scotch, I wouldn’t argue.  There are notes in here that simply have no business being picked out of an 8 year old malt.  Mandarin and white pepper.  Quite some dried fruit, very tropical in nature: dried mango, dried pineapple and dried apricot.  A little ginger.  The omnipresent Amrut zestiness and baking spices.  Wow, what a melding of wood and spirit.  Give this one a lot of time.  It deserves it.

Palate:  A lot of orange, pineapple and other tropicals.  Some very drying fruits, not dissimilar to a somewhat tannic fruity tea.  There’s something kinda dark and brooding here too.  Maybe like a thick vein of tart syrupy-ness.  There’s a lot of wood influence, but it has definitely been put to good use.  In fact…I can see the oak being a little too heavy for some drinkers.  Not too heavy for this guy, however.  And interestingly…I can’t get my head around the impression that there is something almost Talisker-like in this palate-profile, though it is certainly more tropical than a mature Talisker.

Now…woe is me, I know, living in Alberta where we have a great whisky market, privatized liquor sales and decent prices, but I’m still gonna bemoan the lack of access to this whisky.  Canada received NO allocation for this one.  I am a massive Amrut fan, and desperately want a bottle of this on my shelf.  If anyone can help me out…I’ll be eternally grateful.

I won’t kick and scream too much here, but I will beg a little…

Ashok…please continue to age some of your Amrut stocks.  We WILL pay the premium for this whisky.  It’s that good.

Job well done, folks.  This is a winner.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Times Whisky Club

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
May 042013
 

Amrut Cask Strength (Limited Edition September 2007)014

61.9% abv

Score: 91.5/100

 

Limited Edition 2007 release.

Oh wow.  Uh…I think maybe I need a moment alone to collect myself.

This is so much more than the standard Amrut Single Malt on a steroid rampage.  This is awe-inspiring, really.  Truly as singularly focused and massive as the mighty Himalaya, from which this distillery draws its waters.

So…while not simply content to be the beefier big brother to the standard release, this does in fact have all the hallmarks that immediately announce the familial lineage.  Spice, orange, chocolate and doughy notes.  As soon as I pick up on those now familiar friends, I can settle in in relative comfort and begin the sensuous journey of unraveling another one of these foreign and exotic beauties.  I can’t hide it and don’t try…I love Amrut.

Do rest assured however, my shameless adoration and rooftop-shouting is not at all recognized by the distillery or the industry in any way (ahem…what I mean is…no, I’m not getting kickbacks).  I’m just a shameless shiller, really.  Find something good and do your best to share it with the world.  Religions have been founded this way.  Hmmmm…Amrut as religion.  Services like that I’ve no qualms about attending more than once a week.

Anyway…I’m a bit of a flavor whore, as you may recognize by now.  Big, bold and long-lasting are immediate selling points for me.  Tag-team that concept with one of my favorite distilleries and…hey…you’re bound to find a happy guy sipping whisky in my back yard.  The notes and nuances we get to magnify with each Amrut release at cask strength are simply out-of-this-world.  These folks from Bangalore are blazing their own trails and have built a brand unlike anything available anywhere else in the world.

I toyed with an extra half point, but will leave it at 91.5+.

Nose:  Cinnamon, bread dough.  Exotic sweets (think Indian desserts).  Faint, faint, faint echoes of tropical fruit notes.  White and milk chocolates.  Maybe Glossette raisins.  Just a drop of each rum and smoke.  Hint of dunnage warehouse.  Mature decades beyond its years.

Palate:  Enormous arrival.  Oranges.  Big cinnamon and clove notes.  Straight on into creamy chocolate.  Then fresh scones, orange zest and papaya.  Flavor is an explosion like oral fireworks.  Not as much finesse as say…the Herald, Two Continents or Intermediate Sherry, but this is a whisky flexing it’s muscle, not trying to be dainty.  Yum.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:37 pm