So, India does single malt scotch? Yes, it does apparently.
Is it good, you ask? Well, to be honest, it’s very good indeed.
Surprised? I guess not. This Amrut got a lot of hype and buzz since Jim Murray’s bible for 2010 was released a few months ago. Not very surprising since Murray named it “World’s Third Best Whisky” and gave it a whopping 97 mark. As you know, I do value Murrays bible as a good resource for whisky hunting and dramming, yet, some of the scores in the bible are a bit weird in my opinion. Murray however does not award bad whiskies many points, so I had the Amrut whisky in by wish list since then. I was intrigued to find out how such a whisky would taste, and try to understand what caused Murray to be hot and heavy on this specific malt. A few weeks ago, finally I did get to buy a bottle of this nectar, and I did open it the same day, in order to review and see what I made of it.
The Amrut fusion single malt is indeed produced in India at the Amrut distillery at Bangalore (which is better known as the silicon valley of India, with all the hi-tech companies located there). The name ‘Fusion’ comes from mixing two different types of barley in the process: A peated barley that comes from Scotland, and Indian Barley which is not peated at all.
Amrut’s Indian barley comes from the Punjab and the distillation takes place in the tropical garden city of Bangalore at 3000 ft. The barley from Scotland is also distilled in Bangalore and both are matured there separately. After they have reached their peak, the two whiskies are married in the bourbon casks in proportions which give both a subtle peat flavor and a rich fruity flavor from the Indian barley. The blend is then bottled at 50%, for full flavor.
In addition, this malt as many Indian malts are bottled at the tender age of 3-5 years because of the high temperatures in that country. It’s common to think that 3-5 years of “Indian” aging is the equivalent of about 10 years of aging in Scotland.
I must confess that I did sample an Amrut about a year and a half ago, when visiting ‘Milroy’s of Soho’ in London. They did let me sample their own bottling of the Amrut, in a little plastic glass, so nosing and tasting it were not that easy. I did remember a very fruity, sweet spicy nose, rather different than what I was expecting then… I didn’t keep any notes back then, so this is only a distant memory now. Off we go on to the tasting notes, see how this fares…
Amrut Fusion, NAS , 50% ABV
Nose: Oak, Big Big Vanilla notes, and spice. Also some sweet notes of barley. caramelized biscuits and rather gentle peat which adds a new twist to it all. Some fruity notes as well, I’d say over-ripe oranges, leather. In addition some very unique notes of Turkish delight.
Palate: Creamy, Big bodied. Great impact thanks to the nice 50% ABV. Again, biscuit notes, sweet barely, burnt sugar; the peat is more evident on the palate as it is on the nose. I do think the entire mix is very nice and benefits from the peat which adds another dimension to it.
Finish : medium length finish very good combination of peat, oak spice and barley. Good stuff .
Summing it up:
The Indian really nailed this one. Solid nose, great palate and finish . This marriage of east and west barley is a success.
Is it a good single malt? – yes, yes and yes! It’s very good.
Is it that good as to be called #3 best whisky out there? – I think not.
I’m very impressed with this one. I had high expectations, and it delivered everything I expected. Don’t get ready to be blown away, since you might not , but I am sure most malt lovers out there would respect and like that combination of peat, vanilla fruit and malt married together so well.
Should you get a bottle of this in your bar? I think you should. The price is right (~$60 US), and it’s really worth it. No less, no more. India, you did great!
One last thing : The packaging is hideous. who is the graphic designer responsible for this crime? 😉 Amrut, the 80’s are over. get a new design shop already.