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.
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