Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky
Review: Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky 94/100
A Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published November 4, 2009
The Amrut distillery is situated in Bangalore ‘the garden city’ of India. The distillery sits in a tropical locale 3000 ft above sea level with its water source being the Himalayan Mountains. The malt I am reviewing is Amrut’s nonpeated barley malt bottled at 46% alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle (5/5)
The whisky sits inside a metal sleeved container, protected by an inner cardboard sleeve. The metal sleeve is very decorative with a nice motif of the Himalayan Mountains encircling the bottom of the canister and a faded map of what I believe to be the whisky’s state of origin, Karnataka, copied onto its exterior. The bottle itself is a medium dark green to protect the contents from light should the bottle be left out of the sleeve. It is corked with a high density synthetic cork. . The labeling of the bottle is just as attractive as the sleeve and even includes a batch number and a date of bottling. The bottle I am reviewing is labeled B.No. 8 DT. 29-4-08 indicating it is from batch number 8 bottled on April 29 2008.
But the best part of the presentation of this whisky is the following statement found on the back of the decorative metal canister
…. According to Indian Mythology, when Gods and Rakshasas – the demons – churned the oceans using the mountain Meru as churner, a golden pot sprang out containing the Elixir of Life. That was called the “Amrut” The great founders of our distillery aptly named it Amrut Distilleries….
The message continues to impart some nice history of the whisky and how it is made. I love this kind of thing and therefore In The Bottle this whisky deserves a perfect score.
In the Glass (9.5/10)
Upon pouring the Amrut into my glencairn glass I noted a slight haze. This does not bother me as it confirms the whisky is probably not chill filtered. The colour is pale yellow and a teensy tiny bit of oil is apparent in the glass. The aroma from the glass is very nice. I was expecting something more… well scotchlike. And it is, but I wouldn’t be able to place this whiskey in any particular region of Scotland. (Nor should I). There is a mild anise aroma more reminiscent of Irish whiskey than scotch. A nice floral note as well that hints of mild citrus and lilac. There is also a distinct but muted spiciness which seems to have an oriental flair. As you let the fragrances rise a light vanilla and toffee rise as well. This is a wonderfully complex yet mild nose.
In the Mouth (56/60)
I’ll start by saying that I am glad Amrut had the sense to make an Indian single malt whisky. There are flavours here I have never encountered in other whiskies. Whether this is from the locally selected Indian grain used, or due to aging in the Bangalore tropical climate I am not sure. The only comparison I can make is to the floral nature of Highland Park whisky and its unique heather infused peaty taste. This has no peat and no heather, but there is a tremendous floral note in the whisky which is unique to this brand. An anise/citrus/lilac/oriental spice taste that is divine. We get a small vanilla and toffee compliment which really kicks the complexity into high gear. Finally we get an almost rye like note introduced into the mixture. This tastes a little like an Irish whiskey, a little like Canadian whisky, yet it has the unmistakable complexity and sweet profile of a single malt barley whisky. It is wonderfully exotic and provides a foreplay on the taste buds I encounter very rarely.
In the Throat (14/15)
A little oil goes a long way. A spicy smooth finish coats the throat, and the balance I noted in the mouth continues in the throat all the way down. The whisky even has a nice gentle but firm kick at the end, knocking my tonsils back into place. Absolutely no bitter backbite, but a pleasing sweet citrus burn rests in the throat.
This is the first whisky from India I have tried. What is so wonderful is in how unique the flavour is. Amrut doesn’t try to be something it is not. From the presentation on the store shelf with the proud motifs of its heritage; to the malted Indian barley; to the Himalayan Mountain water; this whisky is proudly Indian! The flavour is very unique reminiscent of the whiskies from other countries yet unmistakably different. Look out everyone, Indian Whisky is on the rise!
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)