May 042013
 

Amrut Herald019

60.8% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

Apologies for what may seem like lazy reviewing here, but I’m gonna sit back with my feet up (and my dram of Herald in hand) while you navigate a paragraph or two from the Amrut website itself.  After that…I’ll step back in and share a little bit of my own personal feelings on this dram.

Here goes…

“This single malt travelled almost close to 5000 miles to touch the finishing line. Unpeated malted barley sourced at the foot of the Himalayas, Initially distilled and matured in the city of Bangalore, India (3000ft above the sea level lie at the heart of the Mysore Plateau with a Geographical coordinate of 12� 59′ 0” North, 77� 35′ 0″East).

After the thirsty Angels of Bangalore have had their sumptuous share and the aged spirit has qualified to be called as whisky, the barrels were moved to an un thinkable location; Helgoland (167 ft above sea level with a average humidity of 82.9%); a small German Archipelago in the North Sea with a Geographical coordinate of 54� 10′ 0″ North, 7� 53′ 0″East). The whisky was matured there for a further period. The sharp contrast in altitude, humidity and temperature have had an impact on the maturing whisky and led it to an extra ordinary finale.”

Cool stuff, that.  This distillery thrives on such innovation.  The really neat part is, though, that while there have been several other very innovative distilleries out there (Bruichladdich, Arran, etc), none have met with the success rate that Amrut has.  Every new release is a treat and has me scurrying like the proverbial rat for the cheese.  Can’t help it.  This whisky is almost aphrodisiacal for me.  (Lucky wife I have, huh?  Now if only she’d believe that!).

Nose:  Typical Amrut spice profile.  Creamy.  Almond.  Swiss milk chocolate.  Raspberry.  Botanicals.  Vanilla.  Spruce tree.  Yellow sugars.  Lime.  Uber smooth and delicate, and like all releases from this distillery…the climate has induced an accellerated maturation that allows this young whisky to swagger with a confidence well beyond the years it can actually boast.

Palate: Cinnamon and almost rum notes.  Deep ribbons of chocolate.  Blood orange and grapefruit pith (the latter is quite fleeting).  Jam-filled scones.  Oh, yeah…and bloody big!!

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 4:15 pm
May 042013
 

Amrut Single Malt014

46% abv

Score:  88/100

 

Everybody has to start somewhere.  I simply wish they would suspend their snobbery and ignorance for a while and stop reaching for Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Johnnie Walker for first sips and affordable gifts.

Of all the single malt players on the world stage right now (those distilleries outside of Scotland, that is), I believe Amrut is really the only one producing an affordable, quality, entry level whisky.  And it’s a doozy.  Miles more intriguing and complex than the afore-mentioned malts and blends, and, for that matter, most other comparable young whiskies.  The fact that Amrut single malt is out of India should delight, instead of causing consumer hesitance.

I’m only one guy, but I can say in all sincerity that second to Ardbeg, this is consistently the best and most exciting distillery in the world.  Controversial statement?  So be it.  Try it for yourself and see.  …And those of you with deeper pockets than others…reach for the more high end Amrut expressions.  They will simply knock your socks off.

What we’re looking at with this entry level malt in the Amrut range is the young base spirit, rapidly matured in the unforgiving Bangalore climate, and exhibiting a profile dissimilar to anything else I’ve tried.  The Amrut fingerprint is instantly recognizable, from this whisky on through the rest of the releases.  And while this may be lacking some of the innovative magic Amrut consistently manages to display in their more pricey releases, this is an astounding place to start.

Nose:  Exotic spice blend.  Salty bread dough and sugary barley notes.  Slivered almonds.  Orange zest.  Old cocoa powder.  Wood shavings.

Palate:  Cinnamon buns with icing.  Orange.  Very ‘wet’ and juicy.  Cocoa again.  Very spicy.  Cinnamon and cardamom.  Maybe the vaguest hint of chai.  Delicious…refreshing.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Jan 012013
 

Amrut Intermediate Sherryjhfjfjhjlhg 061

57.1% abv

Score:  92/100

 

An exemplary showing of flawless sherry cask maturation.  Beautiful juicy Oloroso meets exotic Indian spice in a Monsoon Wedding of epic proportions.  I’m not even gonna wait till the end of this review to let you know the verdict.

I.  Love.  This.  Whisky.

Seriously, I’ve said it before and I’m spouting it here again:  Amrut is one of the absolute greatest, most fantabulous, untouchable distilleries on the planet.  Every new release is a thing of excitement and anticipation.

So, what is Intermediate Sherry exactly?  Well…this is what Amrut have referred to as ‘sandwich maturation’.  The whisky grows old (well…by Indian climate standards anyway) first in Ex-bourbon casks, then in Oloroso butts, then back into ex-bourbon.  I believe brand ambassador, Ashok Chokalingam, referred to this is as a ‘sherry sandwich’ when last we met.

So what is it that makes this one so special?  This…

Nose:  Beautiful Oloroso sherry sweetness.  Raw bread dough.  Orange zest and cherry.  Cocoa shavings.  Amrut spice melange…particularly nutmeg.  Wee bits of eucalyptus.  Raspberry puree.  Soft, crumbly sugar cookies.  Bordering on the perfect olfactory experience.

Palate:  Warm melting chocolate.  Orange (and maybe lemon) notes.  Spicy and sweet cherry/raspberry juiciness.  Again…a slight minty tang.  So much more going on here that I simply struggle to unravel it all, but man…what an exceptionally delicious and zesty linger.  Wow.

One of the absolute highlights of the Amrut range.

Buy Amrut.  Support this distillery.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:38 pm
Aug 192012
 

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.

Enjoy.

 

Amrut Single Malt

46% abv

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

50% abv

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.

 

Amrut Herald

60.8% abv

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.

Amrut Kadhambam

50% abv

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

57.1% abv

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.

 

Amrut Portonova

62.1% abv

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

46% abv

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?

 

Amrut Fusion

50% abv

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.

Amrut 100

57.1% abv

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

62.8% abv

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.

Slainte!

 

– Words and tasting notes:  Curt (with some help from The Collective)

– Photos:  Curt

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
May 192012
 

Amrut Portonova

62.1% abv

Score:  92/100

 

What the hell are they doing in Bangalore?  Really?  This whisky is simply stunning.  So good, in fact, I question whether there may be something dark and clandestine at work.  Something akin to that crossroads meet where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil.

Here we have another young(ish) Amrut (but fear not…they all are), strutting its coat of many colors, and once more…dazzling the senses of  everyone I know that has tried it.  Possibly none moreso than yours truly.

What I wouldn’t give to taste the Amrut New Make spirit.  The skeleton of this distillery’s whisky shows through in every expression they release.  That tells me that the spirit itself, irrespective of any cask/maturation influence, is where the heart of Amrut lies.  If anyone can get a bit of this newborn liquid into my hands, I will be infinitely grateful.

Now…at an average of six years (according to the international face of Amrut, Ashok Chokalingam, as mentioned on Scotchnoob), the Portonova is again smashing preconceptions in the ‘older is better’ debate.  This is mature sooooooo far beyond its years.  Having said that, the temperate Indian environment certainly forces a new philosophy on aging.  I’m pretty sure anything left in situ in the Amrut warehouse would be nothing but cask dust by the time it reached the dozen or so years that generally characterizes a ‘young’ Scottish malt.

The nose boasts the most spectacular melange of spices.  Truly this is a flavor profile unlike anything I have ever encountered.  The closest to this deep dark mysterious note I’ve ever found (excepting other Amrut’s) would be in the Yamazaki 18.  Orange and a complex figginess (not quite) meets the richest of Swiss milk chocolate.  Dark over-ripe fruits, juicy and foreign.  Sweet soft crumbly sugar cookies and something infinitely creamy.  Yes…even at 62.1%.  Port?  Ummm…ok.  I’ll take your work for it, though this is not truly port-ish.  A few others have mentioned raspberries.  Hmmm…I can see it.

A delivery of pure warm melted chocolate and foreign spice.  freshly shaved orange zest.  Biscuity (or raisin scone perhaps).  Perfect balance and a marvelous explosion on the tongue.

These guys simply play at another level.  I find myself nearly tongue-tied by this distillery, and have since the first time I tasted the Fusion.  Never have I had such trouble wrapping my head around whisky.  What comes out of India leaves me as flabbergasted as the folks outside of Wonka’s great factory.  Delights not found from any other producer.

Barring possibly Ardbeg, there is not a better distillery on earth.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:52 am
May 162012
 

Amrut Two Continents

50% abv

Score:  90.5/100

 

Amrut has set the bar so ridiculously high already that I walk into new expressions with unfairly elevated expectations.  It’s a credit to the distillery that their weakest offerings (in my opinion anyway) are still head and shoulders above many other distillery’s best.

Before taking one more step forward, let me clarify.  This is a great whisky.  It is not a weak offering.  I only suggest it may not be as stellar as the Intermediate Sherry, Portonova or Fusion.  If you’ve tried any of those expressions you’ll likely have an understanding as to what caliber we are speaking to.

Two Continents is a bit of a hybrid.  Periods of maturation in both Indian and European climes have given this malt its moniker, but is this a novelty or would the same effect have been achieved if the spirit was simply aged and bottled near the Himalaya?  Who knows.  I suppose we wouldn’t have had such a cool name (and consequently) concept to natter on about.

The whisky itself, regardless, is Amrut through and through.  Bold ribbons of orange zest and shaved milk chocolate.  A hefty shaking of exotic spices.  This has become almost a distillery profile.  Yeasty bread dough.  Perhaps the faintest whiff of peat in there.  Rich vanilla ice cream.  Lingering notes of fresh baking and home-made apple pie.

One thing I want to note here.  People tend to look for rules or generalizations in order to give some structure to their lives and make organizing thoughts easier.  This applies to whisky as well.  Islay whiskies are smoky.  Older is better.  Speysiders are fruity.  Amrut is a prime example of how misleading a generalization can be.  These spectacular malts are mere infants compared to their Scottish cousins.  The temperate Indian climate is a maturation accelerant.  What the distillery is able to turn out is product likely still not even 5 years old, which bears all the hallmarks of a malt 3 or 4 times its age.  Never let a generalization sway your opinion before your senses have had an opportunity to make up their own minds.

Nearly textbook malt from this Indian superstar.  While not my favorite Amrut, still full of sparkle and shine.

 

Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:26 pm
Mar 112012
 

Amrut Fusion

50% abv

Score:  91.5/100

 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

No, I’m not sleeping.  All of the adjectives I need for this dram are ‘Z’s.  The Fusion is mindblowing.  (Okay…that one didn’t need a ‘Z’).  This whisky is zingy, zippy and zesty.  I can’t remember being so taken aback by a whisky before this one.

Ever had pop rocks?  Y’know…those fizzy little candies that hiss and tingle and pop on your tongue.  No?

Okay.  Let’s try another approach…

Remember your first orgasm?  That ‘holy hell…what was that?!‘ moment at 12 or 13 when you discovered…well…anyway…you know what I mean.

Can you imagine a whisky that packs that kind of surprise?  That is Fusion.

This deep orange drink is bottled at a hefty 50% abv (hell yeah, Amrut!).  It is the biggest 50%’er I’ve ever tried.  Bold and unique.  Quirky and surprising.  It will surprise your nose and tickle your tongue, literally leaving you with that wonderful anesthetic feeling (numb lips).

The individual notes are not hinted at, but all step up to take their turn at the forefront.  Peat, chocolate, spice (cloves), orange zest (think Grand Marnier), smoked meat (salami?), rum and sherry.  Wow.  The harmony and balance of all of these is magical.

So many ‘fused’ flavors competing for your nose/palate.

Chocolate and spice continue to vie through the finish, which lingers long and warm.  Many, many minutes later as it finally began to fade, I was left with bitter green fruit and a bit of oak.

Amrut Fusion is so surprising, it will make you doubt what you have just tasted and want another glass.   Stunning.  Or should I say…’ztunning’.

I should note…though the Amrut distillery was founded in 1948, it has only been recently that their whiskies have exploded on the world stage.  I truly can not wait to see what comes next for Indian whisky.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:46 pm