Amrut…Secrets Of The East
One night, not so long ago, a secret conclave of some of the world’s greatest minds gathered to discuss the secrets of the Far East…
This insufferable bunch of mad geniuses was led by mystic guru, Jonathan Bray, on a flight of spectacular design. Though some secrets are meant to kept…some are meant to be shared amongst a few of the more esoteric and learned among us.
Welcome to the inner circle.
From the majesty of the Himalayas to the monument of the Taj Mahal. From the birth of four of the world’s major religions to the rise of the Kama Sutra (pun intended). From the Ramayana to all of the stunning Hindu deity statuary. From the eye-meltingly beautiful Tabu to the irrascible charm of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. India’s contributions to all that we love simply cannot go unrecognized. And now…whisky.
To me there is simply no other distillery as exciting as Amrut. Over the past few years they have ratcheted it up to a level of quality and innovation far surpassing almost all of their Scottish contemporaries. Not content to simply find a winning recipe and stick with it, the folks at Amrut have repeatedly shattered preconceptions by releasing one glorious expression after another. Fusion, Intermediate Sherry, Portonova, Two Continents, etc. Each retaining the distillery’s characteristic spicy and doughy, orange and chocolate backbone but dressed up in its own shimmeringly expressive elegance.
When the opportunity arose to host Jonathan Bray at my place and have him roll out some of these whiskies for The Collective’s benefit, it was a chance to jump at. We gathered…we learned…we drank…then, well…some things are best left unsaid.
First up…we started with a wee glass of Old Port Deluxe rum, Amrut’s contribution to the ‘cane crowd. Not being a rum guy, it was tough to really get my teeth into this one, but as an educational experience…s’alright. From there straight into a couple of quirky as hell cask samples. Not even whisky these, and in one oddly green-tinged case, an absolutely mindboggling concoction. Curiouser and curiouser. None of us, no matter our level of experience could come even close to pegging these ones. The thing is…Amrut does so many unique things you simply don’t know where to begin.
At this point, we began lining up the real stars of the evening. The single malts. Jonathan led us through the range while revealing nifty little tidbits about the distillery and sharing some wicked little anecdotes.
This was not just a virtual tour of one of the world’s great distilleries. This was an immersion into Amrut.
A final note: We sampled seven malts from Amrut on this night. I have taken the liberty of including a couple extras; for no other reason than to let you see the depth and breadth of this marvel of the East.
Amrut Single Malt
70/30 ex-bourbon/virgin oak
Nose: Doughy. Barley. Sweet mild nutmeg. Cocoa powder. Orange rind. Spices grow.
Palate: Chocolate. Barley. Creamy. Still slightly grainish. Slightly firey and youngish…but not underdeveloped.
Thoughts & Impressions: What a brilliant entry level malt. If only all distillery’s had a flagship like this.
Amrut Two Continents
Matured in India and Scotland
Nose: Cherry. Spices (cinnamon?). Vanilla. Chocolate. Mint. Honey. Dough. Lime. Baking spices. Hot cross buns. Exotic dried fruits.
Palate: Hot chocolate. Zest. Cinnamon. Cereal…maybe cream of wheat.
Thoughts & Impressions: Integration. Such flawless integration. Simple but at the same time so complex. Love this malt.
Nose: Typical Amrut spice profile. Creamy. Almond. Swiss milk chocolate. Raspberry. Botanicals. Vanilla. Spruce tree. Yellow sugars. Lime.
Palate: Cinnamon and almost rum notes. Deep ribbons of chocolate. Sweet.
Thoughts & Impressions: “It’s not fighting me” – Gord. Couldn’t a said it better m’self.
Kadhambam means ‘mixture’: Rum, sherry and brandy casks
Nose: Marzipan. Melon. Cantaloupe. Zippy. Cocoa. “Amrut” (yes…that is now a flavor profile). Cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Grape. Spicy bread.
Palate: Apple. Bread. Gorgeous delivery and smooth development here.
Thoughts & Impressions: Great nose, but phenomenal palate. The way this one unfolds is magic.
Amrut Intermediate Sherry
Ex-bourbon into Oloroso into ex-bourbon. Sandwich maturation.
Nose: Beautiful Oloroso sweetness. Raw bread dough. Orange zest and cherry. Cocoa shavings. Amrut spice melange…particularly nutmeg. Wee bits of eucalyptus.
Palate: Warm chocolate. Orange notes. Spicy and sweet sherry juiciness.
Thoughts & Impressions: One of the absolute highlights of the Amrut range. This is a stunner. Pure and simple.
Nose: Blood orange. Milk chocolate. Tiniest bit of tart fig. Dark, over-ripe fruits. Heavy black cherry. Sugar cookie. Creamy sweetness. Raspberry puree.
Palate: Delivery is pure melted chocolate. Foreign spice market. Biscuit or raisin scone. Freshly zested orange. Raspberry jam here too.
Thoughts & Impressions: Perfect balance and an absolute explosion on the tongue. Head-to-head with the Intermediate as my favorite in the Amrut range.
Amrut Double Cask
7…almost 8 years old.
Nose: Root beer. Cinnamon. Ginger. Grapefruit zest. Bourbon. Caramel. Doughy cinnamon bun. Pepper. Apple.
Palate: Creamy. Sweet cherry. A little more oak here.
Thoughts & Impressions: One of the more unique, while not necessarily eye-popping, of the bunch. Again, dear Amrut…why aren’t you in general release?
Nose: Peat. clove and cocoa. Typical orange-ish notes. Smoked meat-ish. Thick dense fruitcake.
Palate: Right back to zippy! Marmalade and cacao bean. Peat. Tightens up and contracts with a bit of drying tartness.
Thoughts & impressions: A rather preferred malt o’ mine puts in a rather underwhelming showing in this lineup. Great nevertheless, but…not quite on par with the sweet awesomeness that came before.
100l barrels…57.1 is the old British 100 proof…100cL bottles…100 bottles per country…
Nose: Peat. Sherry and cherry. Farmy. Iodine. Briney. Glossette chocolate covered raisin. Heavy/dense mincemeat. Sweet cookie notes punch their way through the peat and smoke.
Palate: Bittersweet chocolate. High content cocoa. Anise. Tannic. Peat.
Thoughts & impressions: “That’s got some sh*t goin’ on.” – Jay. Makes me harken back to BenRiach Solstice. Is this port-finished? Nope…jus’ bourbon. Fruity and awesome. Peat meets sweet. Wish this was readily available.
Amrut Cask Strength Peated
100% Scottish barley
Nose: Peat. Iodine. Smoke. Fruits. Earthy. Orange. Ocean water. Strawberry. Mint. Chocolate. Dough.
Palate: Greens and spiced chocolate. Orange zest. Smoky. Heavily smoked barley.
Thoughts & Impressions: Neat to see such a heft of smoke and peat backing those definitive Amrut flavors. While I prefer the sweeter end of the spectrum from this distillery, this is great.
Thanks, Jonathan. Appreciate your coming out, sharing, enlightening and entertaining. These nights are always a blast when venture down South.
– Words and tasting notes: Curt (with some help from The Collective)
– Photos: Curt