By Debbie Shocair
I have to admit that, after all the research I had done about Indian “whisky,” I wasn’t expecting much from Amrut. I knew Amrut was a single malt brand, but most Indian whisky is a blend a lot of a liquor very similar to rum. But I delved a little deeper into Amrut (conversing with them directly, in fact) and learning something about their methods.
I also learned a favorite new word along the way: “salubrious.” Amrut claims the altitude and climate wherein their whisky matures are salubrious, and add to the beautiful character their whiskies. In addition, whereas most rackhouses see 1.5-2% per year evaporation to the Angel’s Share, because of their much warmer maturation climate, Amrut may average as much as 12-15% per year.
In a world of whiskey in which NAS is becoming the norm and facing such steep evaporation loss, it’s no wonder that Amrut doesn’t mention the age on the bottle. All the same, I’m told the Amrut Single Malt is aged for 4 years, in a combination of new charred virgin oak and used American bourbon barrels. Using 100% Indian barley, the Single malt is bottled at a respectable 46% ABV (92 proof) and is non-chill filtered to retain optimum flavor and character.
But, what is it, really? I would venture to say few outside of serious whisky (sans the “e” there) enthusiasts have sampled Indian whisky, and I am not only pleased, but also feel privileged to introduce you to one of the better ones.
On the nose, this bright single malt was rife with sweet caramel and toasted grain. I have to say, the nose was surprisingly exciting. Honey and citrus followed, along with something like honey-cake. I was smitten by the initial aromas. Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water calmed the high notes, and sweet honey toasted grain leapt to the front.
I don’t normally mention the color of a whisky because, though I’m sure it’s very pretty, a whiskey is not wine. However, this single malt was golden, bright and pale, indicating its relatively young age, and I seldom find so much depth and distinctly identifiable notes worth noting in a young whisky.
The mouthfeel was a little hot, all over the tongue, but the finish was surprising. What began as a medium finish of oak, cocoa, and tobacco leaves, with little-to-no sweetness but a clear sense of cinnamon and earthiness, evolved into a subtle, lingering, extended finish, with a sweetness that was pleasantly clingy.
Amrut is certainly an exotic whisky line for most of us, but one I highly recommend, at around $55.