Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Whiskey Wednesday: Amrut

Amrut, an Indian single malt whisky, entered the US market about six months ago, but they have been using the fall whisky season as a sort of west coast coming out party, holding tastings and appearing at whisky festivals throughout California. I hadn't tried Amrut before but was able to sample their whole range at an excellent tasting at the Wine House (Note: as usual, I paid my own freight).

Unlike some Indian distilleries which have caused controversy by using molasses in their whiskies, Amrut makes single malt whisky entirely from barley. The barley comes from Punjab and is distilled and aged at the distillery in Bangalore. Amrut has been making whisky, mostly for domestic blends, since the 1970s, but starting exporting single malts to Britain and the EU in 2004.

Amrut is a single malt in the Scotch tradition, and tasting blind, I would certainly guess that it was Scotch. They have both peated and unpeated expressions as well as a new, sherried malt and the Fusion, a blend of the peated and unpeated malts. All of their malts are four to six years old, but likely due to the high heat in Bangalore and the use of some new American oak, they seem to age quickly and taste older than their years.

The current Amrut range is as follows:

  • Amrut Single Malt, 46% abv ($55)

  • Amrut Peated Single Malt, 46% abv ($70)

  • Amrut Fusion, 50% abv ($65)

  • Amrut Cask Strength, 61.8% abv ($75)

  • Amrut Cask Strength Peated, 62.8% abv ($85)

  • Amrut Intermediate Sherry Cask Strength, 57.1% abv ($125)

All of these malts were good. My favorite was the regular cask strength malt, which had some very nice spice and fruit notes; the sherried malt was also nice with some candy notes, though at $125, I wouldn't see myself buying a bottle. I was less enamoured of the peated malts, which were fine but didn't offer much more or different than is currently available in the world of peat. Distilleries without a strong peat tradition need to learn that it is not absolutely essential to peat everything, especially when the chances of improving on the existing world of peat are pretty slim.

This is a good start for Amrut. Right out of the gate, they have shown themselves to be a quality distiller, and I'll look forward to more of their output.

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