Last in our Bombay Malt & Cigar club’s blind tasting surprise evening was an unusual dram. Clearly cask strength, clearly different… it was definitely an interesting close to the tasting portion of our evening.. to then shift gears to desi street food snacks and fine cigars.
(circa 2016 via La Maison du Whisky, Singapore)
Here is what we discovered:
- Nose – Initially lots of phenols, quite ‘chewy’ seeming, woody, then as it began to open up a dark mocha chocolate, shifting between bitter chocolate and espresso coffee, hint of sweet grass smoke. With more time, dried bitter dark berries, some currents, vanilla joined by wheat
- Palate – Flat…thud. Sweet, clearly cask strength. Did we mention sweet? Some spice, cereal, sugar sweet. Did we mention flat and sweet? Think diet coke opened for days…
- Finish – Nothing much, a tingle, with a malty chaser
The nose was really quite promising but the palate was simply flat and disappointing. Like pricking a balloon letting all the air out… just simply didn’t even come close to matching the aroma.
We gave it more time. Wet rag, malt and more raisins joined the aromas. The palate? Still lacklustre.
We added water. Sugar sweet.
We waited some more. Sigh…
This was a difficult dram. Definitely different however not an easy one to get to know.
Our efforts to speculate what it could be fell as flat as the palate. We just couldn’t figure it out. Though perhaps someone tossed Amrut out simply as our whisky curator is an Amrut fan.
With the reveal… surprise. Particularly at the strength! “Can a whisky even have an alcohol strength like 62.8%??” Leading to discussion of another of our curators favourites – Aberlour with their cask strength A’bunadh sometimes coming above 60%.
Now here is the challenge. I want to like Amrut’s offerings. I want to be proud of what this Indian distillery is offering and what is exciting the world too! Somehow I struggle…
With the Old Pulteney, we had a clear classic. A terrific start and clearly a whisky to simply enjoy.
With the Westland, you could picture curling up with a warm fire or lighting up a cigar and whiling away the evening, chatting with friends, sharing a laugh or two or three!
However with the Amrut, I simply couldn’t picture a context I would reach out for it. Instead, it fell neatly into the academic category of “I’m glad I tried it once.”
This Amrut Bourbon forms part of a trilogy exploring different effects of peat – all at cask strength.
Here is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say:
Unpredictable and surprising, this unpeated Amrut draws on both malted barley and a perfectly integrated woodiness to express every facet of its personality with great lyricism. With an exotic character overflowing with freshness, it also shows itself to be particularly spicy and vanilla-tinged. Alongside its two peated “sisters” released in our 2016 Collection, they form a trilogy that will mark a milestone in history of the Bangalore distillery.
- Appearance : Burnished gold tinged with orange.
- Nose : Full-bodied, firm. Majestic malted barley takes centre stage in the aromatic palette. It is accompanied by vanilla, nuts (walnut), strong spices (curry), flowers (lily, iris, lavender) and exotic fruit (pineapple, banana). Gradually, noble wood essences bring out the exceptional quality of its woody character.
- Palate : Dense, complex. The palate counterbalances the rigour of the nose with a remarkably liberal style. It offers numerous gustatory paths, each as intense as the next. Vanilla acts as a base for fresh and exotic fruits, aromatic plants (vervain, camomile), spices (turmeric, star anise) and white spring flowers (lily of the valley, lilac).
- Overall : Long, almost never-ending. Without losing any of its exotic character, the finish develops with aromas of liquorice and cocoa powder. The spices become increasingly hot and the fruit bursts with sweetness. Like the nose, it has a phenomenal, superb woodiness. Thirst-quenching retro-nasal olfaction fills the taste buds with the delicious juice of blood oranges. The empty glass leaves a noble spiciness (saffron).
Other whiskies featured in our BMC Blind Surprise tasting:
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