Sunday, May 27, 2012

Amrut Cask Strength brings sweet fire to tropical heat

Gold with olive tints

Located in Bangalore, deep in the South of India - a tropical location on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Amrut's location is hot and humid. Maturation is rapid in the tropical heat.  More importantly, Armut has upped the quality of their offerings over recent years with phenomenal results, crafting a house style with a flavor signature that is (as reported in Dominic Roskrow's excellent distillery visit piece in Connosr): "rich, dripping in vanilla, citrus, and honey".  They have since added a range of expressions that include a range of fascinating wood finishes, peated malts, malts from multiple continents, and various strengths.  Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength is a cask strength example of the base expression.

On a quick visit to my Father, I visited Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, California. Among their astounding collection of whiskies from all over the world I found some lovely Amrut 50ml miniatures.  I also had a great conversation about whisky and spirits with Ed.  It's the most fantastic liquor store I've seen a while and an unexpected treasure down in the Berkeley flats.

Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength 61.8% Batch 2 January, 2010

Color: Gold with olive tints - almost light amber.

Nose: A spirity nose rich in vanilla, spices (turmeric, fenugreek), melon, musk, leather, fresh sawn oak, and mint

A big whisky like this needs extensive air time.  I gave a full 30 minutes of airing before beginning the critical tasting as it kept opening up over time.  On entry: Wham!  A massive and sweet explosion of the Amrut signature flavors of dust, richly honeyed toffee, and overripe banana. There is a subtle but pervasive orange rind aspect, rich freshly sawn oak, and hints of mint at the close of the mid-palate. The finish is long but easy, malty and gentle with oak and caramel.  The lingering aftertaste is similar to the distant echoes of having finished a butterscotch sucking candy.

Adding a few drops of water is an obvious thing to do with whisky of this enormous strength and power. The effects on the nose are slight: some mint notes emerge and the banana and toffee loosen, enlarge, and smear a bit. On the tongue, however, the water turns the toffee sugars and bananas into a rich bananas foster experience. Spicy heat is amped up into the explosive cayenne levels at mid-palate. As the sweetness of the opening and the fiery heat of the mid-palate merge there are sweet spices like cloves and nutmeg. The finish remains long and full of gentle herbal bitters and a cleansing astringency from wood tannins.

A tour de force of flavor density and richness. Amrut has achieved a superb balance in the midst of an effusive flavor balance that threatens to go over the top.  Amrut has rightfully put India among the great whisky producing regions of the world.


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