By Debbie Shocair
Amrut gets extra—and well-deserved—creativity points for this lovely beast. If you have been following my reviews of the Amrut expressions, then hold on to your seat…er…glass, because this one is both fascinating and delicious, with one of the longest finishes around. This is my fifth review of the various Amrut Indian Whisky expressions, and it may be my favorite thus far.
Production of the Intermediate Sherry Single Malt begins with Amrut’s Single Malt Cask Strength, matured in both new American oak and used bourbon barrels. The cask strength then spends a further year in Oloroso Sherry Butts, and then goes on to spend additional 3 to 6 months again in used bourbon barrels (three stage maturation!). This careful and laborious transference is done to ensure that the Amrut flavor profile comes through, accentuated but not overpowered by the Sherry casks. It is the process as well as the resulting fine complexity of flavor and tang that gives this whisky its name, Intermediate Sherry, for though the Sherry certainly shows up, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
But wait, there’s more.
In order to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria in used Sherry casks, it is a common practice to fumigate them with a sulfur candle before shipping to the various distillers who use them. Any whisky taking up residence in those casks will pick up some sulphur notes, to some greater or lesser degree. Think “burnt match,” and Jim Murray (among others) complains about the practice, and whisky fans are sharply divided on the matter. It would seem a necessary hazard. Unless you are the fine folks at Amrut.
To avoid tainting their Single Malt with the aforementioned sulfur as part of the shipping process, Amrut their Cask Strength to Jerez instead. The Sherry makers put the malt in the used butts, wrap them, and send them full to Amrut’s facility in India. The high proof whisky (61.8% ABV) keeps the inside of the barrel wet and prevents the growth of molds or mildews. Once the butts arrive at Amrut, they are emptied and then refilled with the Cask Strength Single Malt that is destined to become their Intermediate Sherry expression.
I know. Sounds like a whole lot of trouble. But, how did all the trouble turn out in the whisky?
Even on the nose, this fine beast was awash with complexity, note following note. What began as dusty, musty wood quickly gave way to fruitcake, and then became heavy with cherry and plum-raisin – dare I even say cherry wine.
Breaking the whisky with a half-teaspoon of water brought out notes of chocolate cherries to meld with the fruity notes.
The mouthfeel was gentle, a strangely recurring theme with Amrut. Even at 114.2 proof (57.1% ABV) it was gentle, if peculiarly tingling both the tip of the tongue and the back of the palate.
The finish began somewhat spicy, moving on to licorice before fruity and orange and finally lingering oak and sweetness. It had a good, long finish. As in 10 minutes later I was still enjoying it, the sweetness still clinging to my palate.
This is definitely a variety for a someone who enjoys a sweeter whisky, as opposed to Amrut’s Kadhambam, which is for those who like a not-so-sweet whisky. The Single Malt Intermediate Sherry is surprisingly complex, and deliciously pleasant.
At about $120, Amrut’s Single Malt Intermediate Sherry is perfect as a lovely treat, an everyday indulgence, or a terrific gift for that so-hard-to-buy-for person in your life.