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

  88 Responses to “Amrut Greedy Angels Review”

  1. Curt,

    Thanks for posting this, I was luck enough to try the Greedy Angels after being given a sample by Mark Gillespie, and it was stunning! I thought it was one of the most impressive whiskies I had ever tried.

    Also, love what you do here with All Things Whisky…keep up the good work.

    Sean.

  2. Incredible review and I am a happy bunny! It going to be tough for us to meet the expectations in the future.

    Ashok
    Amrut Distilleries

  3. I have no doubt it’s very good whisky, but $265 or $33/yr. (IF you can get it at Master of Malt prices) is simply ridiculous for something that’s only an 8, and not at cask strength. Evidently, it’s not just the angels that are greedy. Amrut can probably sell out small batches at these rates, but for large scale releases the company had better continue to re-sharpen its pencils and re-charge the calculators.

    • Jeff, take a deep breath and relax! Better yet, pour a generous dram of $30/bottle Glenmorangie 10 and reflect on how good it is for the price. If Amrut can get people to buy their product for that price, more power to them. I personally find my Timex works fine for me, but if others must have a Rolex, so be it. I understand your point, but since I can buy Corryvrecken, Lagavulin 16, HP 18, and Clynelish 14 together for the same price as one of these, I don’t care.

      • You have to reflect on the cost to AMRUT themselves to produce this stuff. They put aside two FULL casks to make this whisky, and still ended up with only ~140 bottles. Not a very good return on investment for the distillery, right? So what they’ve done is create a really, REALLY good one-off malt that serves as their ‘luxury expression’. As I mentioned, this one has all the markings of a whisky at least three times its age, due to the heat in the Indian locale. Amrut simply cannot mature for too long, as 1) the whisky evaporates at a phenomenal rate and 2) it would be overcooked before reaching even a decade.

        While a Scotch whisky can slumber for decades losing ~2% per annum (if you buy into the figures oft repeated) and slowly come of age, Amrut experiences an almost unbelievably accelerated maturation.

        To be a little more concise, perhaps I should just say…losing 12% a year is expensive for the distillery, ergo this has to be a more expensive malt to justify their investment. Otherwise it would simply make more sense to pluck it from the cask at 3 or 4 years (by which it is already delish and comparable to a 10-15 yo Scotch) and bottle for retail.

        It’s just business.

        Finally…I think anyone who tried this would have to concede that the price could also be justified without a word, and simply let the malt speak for itself.

        • As I said, I have no doubt it’s good whisky but, taking the review number at face value, it’s no better than Ardbeg Corryvreckan (which is likely older), and I’m not paying $265 for that either. My sympathies to Amrut for its losses on Angel’s Share but it chose to locate in India, it’s clear that those volume losses are being passed along in the price and I don’t know why the consumer should be on the hook for it to this degree unless someone is willing to say this is a break-even proposition. It is just business, but it’s not mine.

      • Thanks for the reply. If you can see my point, then you know I’m not wrong (and I’m not really excited, for that matter, either). $33/yr. is what proven premiums command at 30 years and up, and I don’t have to care in the sense of being in the market for a bottle of Greedy Angels to point out the stuff’s overpriced (any more than I have to own a Macallan Ruby to know that colour equals quality is bullshit). Also, I’m not entirely sure that crazy prices supported by niche parts of the market don’t eventually affect more common whiskies – if “more power to them” is a fine attitude for Amrut’s products and pricing, why not Corryvrecken, Lagavulin 16, HP 18, and Clynelish 14? Many of those who speak up in support of these niche products tend to express an “at any price, so long it’s good” attitude and I think that creates a false impression of the market at large (and how you eventually get people trying to sell Talisker 57 North for $174.95). I don’t consider myself cheap in my purchases by any means, and I do appreciate quality, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep an eye on QPR. So with Mr. Chokalingam in the audience as he clearly is, I wouldn’t want him to have the mistaken idea that everyone in Canada is willing to write Amrut a blank cheque for its whisky, because I’m certainly not.

        • An expression I once heard and immediately loved: “Thank god we all have different tastes, otherwise everyone would be in love with my wife.”

          We may be speaking to personal financial decision-making vs. actual ‘taste’ here, but the sentiment certainly holds true.

          Your moral standpoint, which I completely understand and respect, means there is one less person I have to worry about in trying to secure one of the few bottles available. 😉

  4. It’s these types of reviews that are frustrating. You hear about a great Whisky, but you’ll never get the opportunity to try it, and definitely not to buy it, and if you do see it for sale, no way you’ll be able to afford it.

    I think Amrut should price the bottles in a way that reflects the quality and their own cost. At 140 some odd bottles, from two casks, I am not surprised at the price. Look, Macallan 25 sells for up to 1000 dollars, and it’s only at 43%! There’s the crime….

    However, it’s mean to release such a small batch, because even if every Amrut lover only asked for a half dram, there wouldn’t be enough to go around.

    Go big or go home. My mother always said, if you don’t have enough to share you can’t have your treat.

    Next time, do this with 1000 casks, and at least you’ll be able to supply the demand to some extent…

    • …And yet others will be grateful that there ARE these few reviews out there. Those that may be able to afford it and are weighing the purchase.

      It’s all degrees, though. Let me give you an example…

      You, Skeptic, are already miles ahead of many others, who may not be able to afford even the most entry level of single malt. While they look on with envy and frustration at you and I…we look on with envy and frustration at those sitting on loads of Brora, Old Macallan or Port Ellen.

      To rue not being able to reach the fruit on the highest branches is to overlook the all the other great low-hanging fruit.

      Countless distilleries are releasing single cask expressions. Should we take exception to those as well?

      • There’s a difference between releasing single cask expressions and one off expressions. Although Bladnoch releases most of their stuff from single casks, the the variation is not so much, and in general the principle is not so exclusive (10 year old, etc..). Balvenie single cask has variations but it’s a specific style.

        Even with single casks there can be hundreds of bottles.

        With craft Whisky you will get variations between batches, and yes, some like to have a bottle of every batch and more power to their obsession.

        But a one-off release of 140 bottles in the whole world…that’s just mean! I would have said “just keep it in the family and don’t tell anyone.”

        Of course, marketing such a gem lifts the whole brand, so no surprises here….

      • This, too, is a very interesting point and one quite separate from the issue of price: if the chance of anyone actually finding one of these whiskies is phenomenally small, how important is it to review them? From the point of view of the reviewer, there’s no reason not to write about them, especially if they’re exceptional, and I’d defend the honest review of any whisky in the interests of “setting the record straight” – call the good ones up and the bad ones down. It’s all fair game, as IS commentary on the price when it is exceptionally high compared to other whiskies of similar quality on the market – and that price commentary is no less objective, or any more subjective, than any review of quality.

        That said, in terms of this whisky specifically, we’re really not talking about a few reviews for the benefit of the Amrut collector or Amrut curious on the brink of a buy. As Amrut says in its website (http://amrutwhisky.co.uk/blog/?cat=14) – “We’ve had lots of coverage of Greedy Angels, Amrut’s oldest whisky”. The blog then goes on to detail 7 reviews/stories, not including the one here, only calling them “a small online selection”. Just considering these 8 reviews/stories alone (to say nothing of the unnamed other reviews), we’re talking a minimum of one review for every 18 bottles in existence – a very big splash for such a small drop in the whisky bucket. If that’s true, while no individual reviewer can or should be held responsible for it, this is a case of very disproportionate coverage given the amount of whisky involved, and not JUST a case of anybody’s personal frustration or sour grapes.

        To bring the topic full circle, however, it’s hard to think that that the frustration of Skeptic and others, and all the discussion it creates, isn’t the larger point of the exercise for Amrut’s full-court press on a whisky it can’t deliver in any volume but is so pleased is widely reviewed – again, small whisky, big deal, but it keeps the brand’s buzz going and a name in front of the eyes, all over a whisky you simply can’t get. Mission accomplished, Amrut, but the consumer’s no better off – unless he’s harder to fool next time.

        • I have to agree with Jeff.

          Perhaps if they had kept this a “distillery only ” gem, it would have been acceptable. But maybe they don’t get lots of visitors willing or able to plunk down that change on a rare bottle.

          Whatever, it’s a disappointment…

          • Respectfully I have to disagree and take some exception with all of the negativity.

            This distillery is in INDIA. Why would Amrut limit one of their most coveted releases exclusive to those who visit Bangalore? That seems utterly ridiculous.

            Guys…I’m not understanding the cynicism here. This whisky, irrespective of personal disappointments about not being able to get any, is NOT overpriced. In fact, knowing what the loss ratio was, I’m impressed with the price point. Amrut is in the BUSINESS of making whisky. Key word: business. Even at the price quoted above, that is a pretty crappy return on investment on a whisky that is comparable to a 25-30 y.o. Scotch. I promise you…a 30 year old cask of Scottish goodness is fetching a lot more than $265 a bottle.

            BTW…I saw that Serge at Whiskyfun is also comparing this to a 25 y.o. Not just this guy.

            Bemoan the age all you want, but it ain’t nothin’ but a number. The whisky is damn good.

          • I don’t think the suggestion by Jeff and Skeptic is that it’s a bad whisky. I think the issue is with the optics:

            “We have a great whisky here and, oh, by the way, you’ll never get to try it.” Maybe a few lucky whisky bloggers with connections, but not the rest of us.

            Even if priced at $50 a bottle, this is an unattainable whisky, the result being that people like Skeptic feel teased.

            Sure, there may be a bit of envy, but it’s just like the 70 year old Mortlach you reviewed. You have an “in” that others do not, so you get to try them. And then you write your honest impressions. The passion for your hobby is clear and we vicariously taste the whisky, but it’s not the same.

            At Disney World, all you have to do is ask to get something, but I don’t think it works with single malts. Let’s try:

            Ashok, if you’re reading this, I’m in Toronto and I’d like to taste it too. Can I have a sample?

            D.

  5. Hi, David.

    I get all of these points, but I’m simply in shock that ‘optics’ (to borrow your turn of phrase) or any other preceeding issue that has been raised is believed to be a valid criticism, and that for whatever reason there is a belief that Amrut is in some way wrong for releasing this whisky or for putting a sticker on it that allows them to make a profit (which I contest was a marginal one).

    Put simply…suck it up, y’all. Amrut conducted an experiment regarding ageing some whisky. It was successful, so they released what they had. If you know Amrut, they do all releases in ‘batches’ (generally labeled on the back of the bottle). Who says there won’t be additional batches? Who says that, since these first two casks matured well and the end product was great, they won’t age an additional ‘1000 casks’ (as suggested above)?

    There are some rather pointed comments above that come across as ‘since I can’t have it, no one should’. Maybe that’s not the intent, but reading between the lines certainly paints that picture.

    I’ll say no more. You gents can hash it out. You all know where I stand.

    Great dialogue again. Glad you’re all around with informed opinions. I LOVE that.

  6. Dear All,

    Quite a few names to mention so calling you dear all ( inspite of what was written). Firstly, anything that crosses over five years in the cask is critical in terms of the balance and needs continuous monitoring at least in Bangalore. There is every chance that we would still make some mistake. This first batch of Greedy Angels were experimental. We wanted to keep going, but we’re not sure how that would be the following year. Then our Chairman’s 60th birthday came in and we thought it is a nice time to bottle and we did it. There is no guarantee as to when the next release will be as we have to be happy ourself on what we are bottling. If that happens, you will see another release and may be much more expensive than this. Secondly, you will find quite few people may not like this at all. In fairness that is how every whisky in the world will be. What appeals to Curt, Serge, Dominic Roskrow etc may not appeal to others. I will bow my head and accept that equally. It is not our intention to please all the whisky consumer with the profile of our whiskies and that is not possible.

    On the pricing, I do not want to get into this as I have to turn myself as a Finance guy and get into economics and topics such as net present value, ROI etc etc. we are concise of our pricing policy. If you think it is too expensive and want to see a big number of 30 years + in retrospective on our label! I AM SORRY and good luck with your venture. Somebody has commented as to why we have our distillery in Bangalore. The answer is we were born there and will remain there.

    I do not want to get dragged into this too far and will stop my conversation here on this topic.

    David, if It is possible, I will get you a sample and I will be at spirit of Toronto in May. You may identify yourself to me there and hope to get you one.

    Best Regards,

    Ashok Chokalingam

    • Thanks for popping by again, Ashok. Your insight is always welcome. Appreciate your time in responding to a few of the points above.

      Talk soon

      Curt

    • Fantastic! I managed to get a ticket to Spirit of Toronto and the AMRUT Masterclass! Looking forward to learning more about one of my favourite distilleries… and I guess I’ll be able to take you up on your offer for a sample, Ashok. Look forward to meeting you.

      D

  7. Ashok,

    You have been described in many positive ways by many commentators, and it is clear that your reputation is deserved. This is separate completely from the well-deserved reputation of the distillery you represent.

    The fact that I and (I have been given permission to speak for) skeptic lament the paucity of bottles of this expression is a reflection of the high regard we hold for Amrut’s commitment to quality. It has nothing to do with the price point of this particular expression (which is absolutely reasonable).

    As to the location of Amrut’s distillery, it simply wouldn’t be the same product if it were located elsewhere, and it will one day make for a great adventure to visit (maybe instead of Islay one year Curt?).

    And, with regards to your offer, which I doubt I deserve, I will try to make it to the spirit of Toronto, and it would be a privilege to meet you, regardless of whether you have a sample of the Greedy Angels to slip to me. But in the same spirit (literally), if you’re looking for a home-cooked meal while you’re in town I will do anything in my power to make it happen for you, and open my humble cabinet to your perusal… Any dietary requirements (or requests, if possible) strictly respected.

    With all respect,

    David

  8. These are the Amruts Ive purchased in the past year. 5 bottles of fusion, 4 of cask strenght, 5 kadhambam, 4 intermediate sherry, 3 portonova, 2 of two continents, 2 of 100. And yes 2 greedy angels- one to drink and share and the other to keep. All exceptional but my favorites are cask strenght and 100. Thank you Ashok thank you Amrut.

  9. 2 bottles! For one person!

    Makes you yearn for socialism, equal opportunities, whatnot…

    Oh well…

    • I anticipated such a comment. I rather feel ive earned the right to purchase it. My typo above its 15 or more bottles of fusion purchased in past yr. When the second bottle ships it comes with about 1000 bux in other amruts.

      • OK, I’ve bought over 25 bottles of Amrut in the last 3 years. Have I earned the right to buy two of these bad boys yet? Or the most recent release?

        BTW – Curt, how does the 10 YO (your dram of the day today) compare with this one..and where can I get it? And can I afford it?

        • Timing is everything. Review coming in the next week or two. Details then. As to affording it? Hmmmm.

          • Well, all the Amruts have skyrocketed in price, at least in Ontario. Except for the single barrel releases (with age statements) that were discounted by $50 a year after release (and that created a very favourable QPR).

            But to be fair, they are reasonable next to the prices of longer established brands of the same or lesser quality.

          • Ours have held steady here. Or close to, anyway. They had disappeared for a while, but are on the shelves again now. And sadly, we never got the single casks (up until one arrived just recently), and DEFINITELY saw no huge discounts like that.

            Hope you scored a few at that kind of mark down.

          • I scored 2 of the Sherry -matured single cask bottles, and a total of 8 of the Bourbon matured singles at the low price. One went to a friend, a second is open, and a third is destined for my brother in law in Calgary. This is fantastic stuff.

            I should note that although these are excusive LCBO bottlings and single cask, they are actually a set of single cask bottlings so not all bottles are from the same cask. And all the bourbon cask bottlings are at exactly 60% suggesting they are not “quite” at cask strength.

            I’d be happy to try and broker a sample for you without expectation of consideration (as they say in politics), but perhaps a trade for a tiny sample of port ellen?

  10. A couple of points:

    On being located in India: I really didn’t think this point needed expansion, or explanation, but the country’s climate is well documented. The upshot is Amrut DID know what was being lost and, in so knowing, chose to lose it by holding the whisky longer in cask. That was Amrut’s choice and, that being the case, it’s Amrut’s responsibility. Amrut made a world-class eight, good for them, but lost a lot of whisky in the process by choice and passed those loses along to consumers in the price – also by choice. Blame the angels all you like, but Amrut is not a victim in this by ANY means.
    On price commentary: This stuff is overpriced for an 8 and it’s the market, not just this guy, who says that. A “30 year old cask of Scottish goodness is fetching a lot more than $265 a bottle”, but 8s are not and neither is Corryvrekan. Age is just a number until you get to the cash register. Interestingly, it’s no secret how Amrut’s barrels were plundered by the greedy heavenly host (in fact, people are eager to tell the story and it makes a great label hook and price defense in an industry desperate for both), but it’s no one’s business as to what money’s being made on the remainder. Curt’s assertion that Amrut only makes a marginal profit on a premium whisky it is nevertheless willing to ship around the world could certainly use some substantiation. Ashok, who could provide some expert insight into this very question simply says “I do not want to get into this” – so literally no help there, which leads me to wonder just how much help for the argument there IS available – if Amrut won’t, or can’t, make the argument that its margin is reasonable, who can? That is NOT to say, by the way, that Amrut doesn’t deserve to make a profit, and Curt’s statement that ANYONE ever said, or even implied, otherwise simply isn’t to be proved in this thread, but I stand by the points made here and above.

    On objectivity: I think it’s clear from some of the posts above that personal relationships (and those hoped to be created, potentially also complete with free samples) have entered the discussion – we’re now to the point that we’re making dinner invitations and planning vacations. That being the case, I certainly resent criticism of this expression, as detailed, as having its validity challenged by being “read between the lines” into sour grapes or envy. If my comments aren’t to be taken at face value, why should anyone else’s, and what unflattering things can be “read into” the defenses of Amrut offered here?

    • All of your points have been conceded as well-reasoned and argued, so my personal indignation at your last paragraph aside, I’ll happily agree to disagree with almost everything that you’ve argued. Not out of disrespect, mind you, but simply out of my not even remotely agreeing with your assertions that the price is unfair, that the age statement is something that should be considered level from Scotland to India or that the distillery’s intent was unscrupulous.

      As I said…as always, appreciate the dialogue.

      • Your personal indignation at the last paragraph is quite understandable, so it should give you some insight into mine, as mentioned therein. My points are not just disagreed with, which is entirely fair, but portrayed as a personal ‘since I can’t have it, no one should’ case of sour grapes, which is not fair as I didn’t characterize the positive nature of your review (which I do honestly have faith in – again, I have no doubt it’s good whisky) as being a personal favour either to Amrut or Ashok based on your personal relationship with the latter.

        I agree that the dialogue, and the debate, is what’s important, and that is my interest and focus. My point is, if personal motivations, and not just the arguments themselves, are to be questioned, there’s lots of speculation to go around – much of it counterproductive and unfair to the arguments being made and the people making them.

  11. […] First, Curt Robinson has an entertaining review of Amrut Greedy Angels on his All Things Whisky blog. On the blog he concludes: “Job well done, folks. This is a winner.” On Twitter he was a little more forthright: “A f***ing stunner of a whisky.” He awarded it 94 out of 100 and you can settle back and read his review here […]

  12. I also managed to acquire two Greedy Angels. Unlike our friend Cecil though, I may be interested in selling on one of the bottles in good time.

    I still haven’t opened the other bottle either. Waiting for a suitably auspicious occasion before I do this (birth of first grandchild etc).

    • Now see, there is the frustrating bit. People can get multiple bottles at retail price while others get to salivate, or if they can afford it, buy at a premium later on.

      Makes me have all the more respect for Karl Marx, JS Woodsworth, David Lewis, …need I go on?

      • Yes, please do. Go on and tell us all about the phenomenal whisky we can expect to have provided to us under an Eastern European-style communist regime.

        • Well, None of those mentioned actually advocated for a Eastern-European communist regime.

          If the state controlled production, it could ensure only the finest casks were used. It could outlaw chill filtration and colour, and not only eliminate NAS, but mandate the age that maturation would occur.

          If it were found that an experimental cask yielded only a small number of bottles, the state would determine a way to ensure that as many people as possible got to taste and enjoy it, and if it were good it could mandate a replication of that process to make more for others.

          That assumes, of course, that it was a communist system.

          Under a social democratic CCF or NDP mandate (the latter 2 leaders mentioned), a fair system to open availability to anyone, not just insiders would be set up, and if there was clear demand for a quality item, the industry would be supported to produce more for the least cost possible.

          I could go on…

          • Let’s find someone to take some bets.

            •I bet every single penny that I will ever have on whisky made by capitalist companies competing for my business.

            •Who wants to bet on the communist whisky?

          • Communism is a nice theory and sounds great in text books, but in actual practice it is just another form of totalitarianism. When I travelled through some of the old Soviet Bloc countries many years ago, there was practically nothing on the grocery shelves for everyone to share in, but the elites still got well fed and well housed and probably well boozed.

            China is fine as long as you keep your mouth shut. They get a pass on human rights by the western democracies because it’s all about business and big money. Putin still runs Russia as if it was still in the Soviet era. The only place I can think of that came close to textbook Communism was the early days of Castro’s Cuba. Pity the Americans saw the little island as such a big threat and were, and still are, quite happy to deal with China and it’s horrendous record of human rights, as are all the other western democracies.

            Despite all that, I’ll vote with @MadSingleMalt.

          • Well, bet all you want, and vote all you want. That’s what democracy’s all about.

            Fact remains that under the current system ordinary folks like you and me don’t get to taste Greedy Angels, except, well, I did because David let me taste the sample so generously offered to him by Ashok.

            But still, very unfair…

          • Sure. But the point is that under a communist system, Greedy Angels wouldn’t even exist.

            And an aside to Chris 1: Are there textbooks that paint communism in a positive light?

          • Absolutely. “The Communist Manifesto” by Marx, K, and Engels, F.

            This text is quite positive towards communism, and describes it in a very good light.

            Having tasted Greedy Angels, I can say it was tasty but not worth getting so excited about. Many of the other expressions are much more impressive, such as the Peated CS and some of the fantastic single casks. I must say though, the citrus pith is memorable.

            But, if under communism this expression did not exist, that would not be a detriment to the overall brand, which consistently puts out great whisky.

            You (not you in particular, Ol Jas) can bitch about NAS on some expressions, you can complain about the fact the malts from this distillery have really gone up in price (not at a level more than other distilleries), but one thing is clear, the stuff you pour into your glass is worth sipping.

          • David, I guess that obscure one escaped my attention somehow. 🙂 Yet I don’t think I’ve seen it featured anywhere as a straight-up textbook.

            Does everyone remember that guy who came into a labeling discussion here a while back (probably about NAS) and said that he just needs his whisky to be labeled “whisky”? Like orange juice! I imagine a very dismal black-on-white container (not necessarily a bottle) along the lines of those new “water in a box” things. Anyway, that’s what I see when I imagine communist whisky. 🙂

          • Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Frederick Engels. Red Star Over China, Edgar Snow. There are also many anti Communist books: Animal Farm, George Orwell; We the Living, Ayn Rand; Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler; The Black Book of Communism, Various authors. Orwell’s 1984 is anti-communist, or at least anti-totalitarian.

            Interesting discussion, but not much to do with whisky for we the “free.”

          • I’m not convinced that just because everyone gets treated equally that the whisky has to come out bad.

            Havana Club is pretty good. But that’s rum.

            And there’s lots of examples of crappy booze from capitalist countries, like JW Red.

            It’s like people who complain about the government, red or blue, but when you point out Orange would be different they dismiss it.

            Just like cask strength Indian Single Malts….don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

          • Orange (Canada’s New Democratic Party) might be an improvement on the other two, but lately they are sitting only slightly left of centre and nothing would change as far as availability and cost of good whisky in Canada is concerned.

            I think I may have lost he plot as to where this thread was going.

          • Chris,

            It was a revival of a comment made about the scarcity of this particular expression. I think Skeptic was essentially giving the answer that the question deserved.

            While I wholeheartedly embrace the ideas of social justice, and would never be insulted to be called a socialist, I think that Marx et al were more concerned about the ability of the masses to put food on the table than a “first world problem” such as the availability of what can only be described as a luxury item.

          • In a massive coincidence, Serge reviewed a (good!) whisky from Soviet-era East Germany today. That is funny!

            http://whiskyfun.com/#210717

          • And 88 is NOT a bad score…. SO that’s 1 point for Communist whisky…

  13. Let me start by saying a couple of things, this won’t take long so don’t get too comfortable. First off, let me apologize to any of my teachers that I may have inspired to change careers (we can’t all be the teacher’s fair-haired Woody Allen boy toy). Second off, let me say since we (Canada, but mostly Alberta, excluding Edmonton as they are a dirty people) didn’t get any bottles of the Greedy Angels, I’m NOT sorry for plying Ashok with strong drink and coercing him into posing for pictures wearing a green Irish banner. I did however manage to secure a small sample of the Greedy Angels, from an unnamed source, thank you Curt.

    Securing this sample did come at a high price as I was forced to abandon what little morality I had left and perform certain tasks I now regret. Was it worth it? …………………… (I’ve compromised myself for much lesser whiskies in the past) Yes! This is an incredible whisky, orgasmic? …….Maybe not, but I did experience a pleasurable wave of tingling olfactory sensations. Nosing the malt you’re immediately overwhelmed with apricots, followed by bananas, sweet ripe pineapple, oranges and strawberries. There are lots of mild spicy sherry notes of nutmeg, robust cinnamon and raisins along with some floral / heather botanicals to find as well. This is absolutely phenomenal, the more you push your schnoz the more notes you can uncover. The taste starts with a cherry/grapefruit cough syrup, moves to a creamy chocolate middle and ends with some marzipan almonds bits. The finish is dry & tart which lingers nicely and then gently fades away.

    Would I buy this malt?…….. Yes. Would I pay a premium for this malt?……….. Grudgingly, yes, it’s that good.

    Sorry Andrew ( @Scotch_guy not to be confuse with @Davescotchguy) I do wish I was better person , the sample was certainly big enough to share, ( also you screwed me over on that SMWS 29 year old Macallan) but what can I say other than it was good to the last drop.

  14. Not helping…

  15. Absolutely amazing review. I’m not surprised that we rated this a point apart. Like you I have given Amrut a blank cheque. I was lucky enough to get a sample when Ashok, also a friend, handed me a 20cl bottle at a tasting we held for Amrut here in Dubai.

    Quite beautiful, this dram. I think the nose is the winner here. Scores quite high on my scale. I thought the bourbon influence was very strong with this one though with time it developed a lovely fortified wine characteristic. And how they consistently manage that creamy mouthfeel is a testament to their genius.

    Keep up the brilliant work.

    PS – if you’re ever in Dubai let me know and we can have a run through of the entire Amrut range.

  16. I thought I would give you all a heads up that I’m planning to send one of my Greedy Angels bottles to Scotch Whisky Auctions for next month’s auction.

  17. see my note from Oct 22….

    • Yep. I’m with ya. Frustrating, but that’s the free hand of the market, aye?

      • I might be more convinced by the “the free hand of the market” argument if you had competed in the free market to get your own sample, although you were, evidently, successful in competing in the market for free samples. Just as well for Amrut, in this case, that it didn’t leave reviews to only those able to secure their own bottles: there would, both evidently and proportionately, be far less coverage.

        I still have my faith in the review itself, but I have to wonder, if that review were anything less than enthusiastic, would it be quoted on Amrut’s blog as part of its promotion under the heading “What They Are Saying” – if one said something Amrut didn’t like, would that invalidate it as commentary, or would Amrut just skip it to find a review that they like better? I do understand that it’s a business and, in so understanding, completely understand what Amrut and other producers do and why (no mystery left there if you understand sales and profit) but, again, it’s what’s left unsaid, or unquoted, which really tells the tale in the whisky industry these days.

        • With all due respect, I don’t a shit if it’s posted on the Amrut site. I don’t write for Amrut. I don’t write for Ardbeg. I don’t write for Port Ellen, Brora, GlenDronach or BenRiach. Yet you’ll hear me saying good things about all. Such is the nature of what I do here. If it’s good…I’ll recognize and laud it. If not…I’ll say so.

          I didn’t make a “free hand of the market” argument. Actually, the tone of that one line post is one of despair. It is an ackowledgment that the market allows people to buy or sell irrespective of what we may think. I do not own a bottle of Greedy Angels. Do you think I’m happy about the fact that someone who is obviously not as into Amrut as I am has two and is now scalping the populace? Fuck no. I can bitch about it or deal with it. It is what it is. This is the same market that allows me the lifestyle I have. And no…I do not support the secondary whisky market. I merely concede that it exists and will continue to.

          One last note…

          I ask you to watch the insinuation that I compete for free samples. I think I have pretty eloquently expressed how I feel about this. I do not solicit…I can not get samples by mail…and anything I have ever gotten has been poured for me uncondontionally, as one friend to another. i.e. with no condition of doing a review, good or bad. Greedy Angels was the same. Ashok, a friend, came through town…called me and asked me to join him for beer and a bite…and gifted me a little bit of this and some single cask samples that are coming. It was NOT in agreement with doing any sort of review.

          Your insight and dialogue is appreciated, Jeff. Your insults are not.

          • I agree that Curt’s integrity not be questioned here. I, and others of us out east (yes, we occasionally talk amongst ourselves) really enjoy your reviews and comments Actually, personally, it’s more the insights into the history behind the drams (especially the ones I’m unlikely to try get my hands on) that I enjoy. I also find the reviews useful when deciding whether to buy an available bottle.

            That being said, I don’t think it’s accurate to suggest that that sample of Greedy Angels just randomly made its way to you. Ashok may be a friend, and from all I have heard about him there is no reason to doubt his sincerity, let’s get that straight. But seriously, if you didn’t have this blog, what is the likelihood you would have come into contact with a brand ambassador? And there’d be none of this expression for sale if simply everyone who wanted a sample could get one.

            Granted, Ashok seems to be a fairly reasonable and generous fellow (I mean he offered to set aside a sample for David when he’s in Toronto in May – that’s classy), but he is in the business of selling his product. I doubt the value (in terms of publicity of the distillery) of a sample to Curt is the same as a sample to David.

            If lucky Dave (may I call you that?) hadn’t posted his plea on your site, I very much doubt he would have gotten such a break…

            Face it, Curt, you’re in the major leagues now. When you die you’re liver’s headed to the Scotch Hall of Fame…(I mean this in the nicest possible way…)

            Keep those reviews coming…. and if you happen to come across a spare sample of Port Ellen you don’t need….

            Seriously….we like your work…

            S

          • Sorry you took such offense. It never was my intention to imply (and I have said this before), that there was ever any quid pro quo involved, or expected, in your acceptance of the sample, or in the content of your review (which is why I have faith in it). That said, as for you not giving a shit about Amrut posting your review because you don’t write for Amrut, I would only counter that Amrut probably doesn’t give shit that you feel that way because, in the end, it got what it wanted anyway – another positive review to quote in helping to promote its product. Furthermore, a positive review didn’t HAVE to be the expectation in any particular case, yours or that of any other reviewer who was seeded with a sample; Amrut, like other producers, only has to spread these samples out and then selectively harvest their quotes at leisure. Some reviewers may care that their reviews are being used for promotional purposes, some may not, and some may be flattered to be quoted. I would only argue that it’s all the same to Amrut so long as it gets what wants out of distributing the samples in the first place: positive reviews to quote for marketing, with or without anyone’s knowledge that what they write would be used to those ends.

            By the same token, you DID successfully compete in the market for free samples, even without any knowledge or intention on your part (you certainly beat me). But seriously, in linking to his review, Amrut cites Jason as “also one of the exclusive band who have sampled Greedy Angles (sic) – read his thoughts here” – by Amrut’s admission, this is, at heart, much like the fever pitch raised about a whisky so disproportionately reviewed compared to its availability, about exclusivity, about people being selected to receive samples, who is let in and who is kept out (on what basis is Amrut’s to know).

            The cache of this whisky isn’t who has it because of its quality, so much as who hasn’t because of it rarity, and Amrut is clearly playing to this. And, apparently, it works – there are people online claiming to be salivating over a whisky they’ve never tried, and probably never will, whereas I look at the small number of bottles, large number of reviews and realize that Amrut was simply successful in creating a big storm in a market it knew it had no intention, or ability, to proportionally service with this product – all just to raise its visibility. It’s Dalmore’s Trinitas or Paterson Collection in miniature: the point isn’t that the consumer needs to know about the product to purchase it, the point is the consumer needs to know about it exactly because (s)he can’t purchase it, and that somehow makes it a big deal and raises the brand value.

            I certainly didn’t mean to misinterpret your remark on markets, and I’m sorry if I did so, but this does touch upon the point of markets themselves: that for the consumer looking for this product, it’s all laissez faire, whereas demand and brand hype is created, not by groundswell and word-of-mouth by purchasers (the market itself in action), but by the routing of samples to an “exclusive band” counted upon (and not just by Amrut), in the aggregate, to complete this task. It’s not unique rocket science (it’s marketing), but there is a tension between the manipulation of the market on the one hand and the hands-off, “hey, we can’t control what people do” as a result OF that manipulation in the secondary market, which also clearly affects the first market as well, on the other. Producers can’t control what consumers do, but they know what effects they are trying to create and I question what, if any, interest producers have in trying to control the storms they make, whether good or bad for the consumer or the market, so long as they serve the ends of profitability.

  18. Thanks for the kind words, skeptic. Though I am certainly FAR from major leagues. More like the batboy in high school ball.

    No, of course you’re right. The blog has a lot to do with it. But not in the way you think. Perhaps one day over a dram of Port Ellen I can share a little insight.

    Regarding that sample of PE? I’m sure at some point something could be arranged. A couple others have received unsolicited packages in the mail.

  19. My bottle of Greedy Angels is in the latest ‘Scotch Whisky Auction’ for those who are interested.

  20. I placed a £200 reserve on it which was met by the end of the first day of the auction. I just hope it goes to somebody who will enjoy it. It’s worth it.

  21. If only one could participate in this auction…..sadly, our customs and excise officials don’t see things the same way…

  22. Well,

    Spirit of Toronto 2014 has come and gone. And so has Ashok.

    To say that the Amrut Masterclass was the best I’ve ever attended would be a disservice because it’s the only one I’ve ever attended. But it was a highlight of the festival.

    Ashok educated and entertained us throughout, getting us to transform his whiskies as we listened and learned a lot about what makes Amrut unique, and in general how the distillery works. I will have to try his warming technique on some of the other whiskies I try. And making us wait almost 20 minutes before the first sip…GENIUS!

    It goes without saying that all five whiskies we tried were excellent (the peated cask strength was indeed magical).

    Then, as everyone left the room and I chatted with him…..a most generously sized sample bottle came out of his bag, cap sealed with plastic. No label. Only a tiny sticker on the bottom with the letters “GA”.

    When I have a chance to try it I’ll post my impressions back here.

    Thank you so much Ashok! You are a gentleman and a man of your word!

    D

    • Looking forward to hearing what you think.

      And…what this warming technique is. (Though I tend not to warm too much, myself.)

  23. Wonderful review and an even better trade of opinions!! Seems pretty unbelievable to me that it took so long for Ashok to actually shun the pleasantries and get his opinion across.

    Let me give you fine gents a perspective of what a whisky fanatic in India has to say about Amrut, pretty much nothing!! Why? While you fine gents haggle over the price and the complicated ratios of profit, cost & availability, we just don’t get the stuff!

    Most readers of this comment will have surely tasted more Amrut versions than I have sitting 25 miles away from the distillery!! Why?? We have legal rules in place that prohibit Amrut from selling their stellar versions in India. I can whine and crib all I want, but then it is just not available for me to buy, even if I am prepared to shell out a premium for it.While someday I would want to taste the entire Amrut line up, I know it is not happening in the near future.

    Yes, Amrut wanted to make a splash in the news about ‘Greedy Angels’. What is wrong with that? Are some of you telling me that if your production house churned up a winner; you would distribute in among friends and family just cause you dint have enough for the market?? Come on folks let’s get real! They want to project their skills and capabilities.

    Yes I do know Ashok, and NO he has not shared any samples with me. There are something’s Ashok or Amrut can’t help with and it has to be accepted with a pinch of salt or more often than not, with a few dollars more!

    I do own a bottle of Greedy Angels and I had to acquire it halfway across the globe!

    • Hi, Hermanth.

      Thanks for the comments. I think you’re ‘dead on’ accurate. Sorry to hear you can’t get your hands on the stuff. I believe Jonathan Bray (local Amrut rep) mentioned some of this to us at an event we had a couple years back. Seems a shame. Hopefully you manage to get your hands on some. It WILL be worth the wait. Best of luck.

      Curt

    • Oh, I think that Amrut’s moves are all quite rational – from the company’s point of view – but that doesn’t mean that while it’s logical a company turns on its propaganda machine that everything that comes out of it is to be taken at face value. Fine whisky as it may be, the protracted hoopla around Greedy Angels was about all about raising brand awareness, not trying to sell 144 bottles that disappeared to the secondary market and beyond long ago (or was divvied up to provide the free samples to keep the hoopla going). A fine drink, except that almost no one can get it, but a gross of bottles doesn’t make any distillery a legend, whether it’s located in the whisky “stealing” climate of India or not. All logical on Amrut’s part? Sure, but no more relevant to the average drinker than if Bowmore continued to hype Black Bowmore to the skies today through the distribution of free samples – and maybe not even quite that relevant.

      • “…From the company’s point of view…” Ummm…is there another? That is the side they are on. They make good whisky and want the word out. If you were behind a business trying to cast your net into unfriendly waters (let’s face it…they ARE relatievly new to the elite single malt scene, where there IS intense competition) wouldn’t you try to reap positive press based on an achievement of your own that you really SHOULD be proud of? They haven’t lied or misled. They’ve simply been smart on capitalizing on the response. No different than Ardbeg still touting Murray’s WOTY awards and such.

        It’s naive to think that the producers of whisky (or the retailers, for that matter) have the same interests as the consumer. It’s up to us, in our informed (I hesitate to say ‘enlightened’…though I’d like to) state, to decide for ourselves. Ultimately I know that is what you’re doing, in helping to balance the common man against the marketing machine, but let’s not lambaste an underdog-made-good here. We should be lauding Amrut for, against all odds, kicking the shit out of so much of what the big guys in Scot(ch)land are throwing our way, and for doing so with transparency. (There is no pretention that their young whiskies are anything but. Indeed latest releases even include 4 and 5 year age statements).

        😉

        • “…From the company’s point of view…” Ummm…is there another? Well, yes, there is the consumer’s point of view even though Amrut, like other producers, seems preoccupied with its own. Win awards and gather laurels for making good whisky? Absolutely, and best of luck to them – and I’m sure that a lot of people might well notice that start-up distilleries tend to gather rather large numbers of awards in their “breakout” years and that, in fact, several awards seemed geared toward this. Amrut, Kavalan, Corsair or High West win awards for world whisky, or for best new whisky or for innovator of the year, etc.- all aimed, in seems, AT helping these distilleries become household names in a crowded market. But at some point, a distillery does stop winning awards and gathering hype around any single given one-off whisky release, and so must it someday be with Greedy Angels – like Black Bowmore, a classic release, but a past one, no matter how much Amrut wants to promote the living hell out a whisky it is now longer actually producing and probably will never produce again.

          As a consumer, I DO laud Amrut for what it is doing in general if that is making more great whisky at reasonable prices more accessible to people – and I think it does that with many of its releases. I even support its scrappy underdog status (also carefully presented in marketing – “Nobody thought it COULD be done in India”, etc.) if it shows the bigger, more established companies how to better serve consumers. But while I can appreciate the technical achievement of Greedy Angels in particular, it fails in the other areas. Great whisky? Check. Reasonably priced, accessible and a lesson to Dalmore that limited-release stunt bottles aren’t the way to offer great whisky to the public? Not so much, in fact, actually promoting an “elite status” thing around those who own/sample this release in order to drive up prices in the secondary market and, of course, in order to drive up the asking price of some forthcoming new release – “Frugal Rakshasas anyone? Only six years old, but the taste – and the price – is that of a FAR older whisky”. I’ll laud Amrut for releases that serve both its interests AND those of the consumer, but if they serve only the former, I’m just not sure of my motivation, Mr. DeMille. I don’t own stock in Armut.

          “Ultimately I know that is what you’re doing, in helping to balance the common man against the marketing machine” – that is my intent; it’s not sour grapes, or a hate I’ve got on for Amrut or for those who like it, only to provide counterbalance and perspective that Amrut won’t provide while, surprise, surprise, telling you how great Amrut is.

          • Sorry – either “no longer actually producing” or “now no longer actually producing” – take your pick.

  24. I think while the free samples and the reviews would work for some time there is a far greater normalization force in place. As stated by Jeff, look what is happening to Dalmore, they can quack all they want but the verdict is out there in terms of the sales. Laphroaig Select seems to be going in the same direction, so the mighty have fallen and will continue to do so. Amrut is no exception, if they are going to rest on their past laurels and expect the Greedy Angels to work for it for the next 5 years….let me just say they will not know what hit them.

    So far Amrut has done well (My humble opinion) with the variety, quality and price of the whisky. One exception to check the luxe market potential? Com’on they deserve that!

    • As I said, I’ll laud them for the expressions that serve the interests of consumers as well as their own, but Greedy Angels isn’t one of those. Amrut’s exploration of “luxe market potential”, serves only company interests, not those of consumers and, speaking as a consumer, it doesn’t bode well for my interests in the long run if the idea is to test the waters to see how much revenue Amrut can wring out of a whisky of only 8 years or less, even if only because it might give other companies the same idea.

  25. If Greedy Angels was an exceptional whisky for Amrut, I can understand Jeff’s gripe.

    Now I’m unbiased by having tasted this rare gem. I can tell you the more affordable whiskies are all awesome. My least favourite in the Spirit of Toronto Masterclass was far more enjoyable for me (and cheaper) than any Johnny Walker I’ve had (including Blue). The “standard” Fusion clocks in at less than 1/3 the price and tastes better.

    So this is a distillery that produces great standard range and special bottlings. But then again, they’re probably only producing excellent malt at an excellent value to serve their own purpose….. and I’m ok with that.

    • So…share. No point in playing your cards to the chest. What did you think of the GA?

      • Sorry, I realize I may have been unclear. I was unbiased because I have NOT yet tasted it. In order to properly do this I need a few things:

        – time

        – uninterrupted time

        – freedom from allergies or colds

        – someone to taste it with me

        I only have one chance at this. I want to do it right.

    • Yes, but the points I’ve made about Greedy Angels really aren’t invalidated by simply once again touting its quality or by defending the rest of the range against attacks I that never made. The real reason that you like Amrut isn’t because it fulfills its objectives but because, in so doing, you feel it generally fulfills those of consumers as well – “I can tell you the more affordable whiskies are all awesome” – so I’m glad we’re on the same page on that but, again, it’s not something that can be said of Greedy Angels, rare gem or not.

  26. The opportunity has arrived!

    My brother in law is visiting so I took the opportunity to open the sample bottle and we sat down for about an hour each with a generous 15 cc pour.

    I will leave more detailed impressions later, after the next time I have a chance to try this (I gassed the rest of the bottle).

    Definitely citrus on the nose and palate, including pith and zest. Based on your notes and those on connosr, I am led to believe what was in the bottle is in fact what was promised (unlike a A’Bunadh batch 28 I got at a bar once).

    I’m not sure I like it better. Than the cask strength, but it is definitely unique, and very interesting.

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