Amrut’s flagship Indian single malt, showing their signature character of spice, fruit and honey. Bottled at 46%, it has the depth of flavour needed to properly showcase the distillery. The original Indian single malt and, dare we say it, maybe the best?
When you begin to look for India’s first single malt whiskey, you come across a variety of opinions. Some say it’s from Amrut Distilleries and never heard of anyone else, others say it’s there but not for sale, while some say its out there but not for consumption by any sane person. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Amrut Distilleries was established in 1948 and has been producing both Indian vattel alcohol and Scottish-style single malt whiskies ever since. Based in Bangalore, it is the first and only distillery in India producing anything like a spirit that requires aging. It’s also the first to introduce, after more than a decade of research and continuous trials, its own single malt to the market.
The distillery, which is capable of producing approximately 1.2 million cases a year, produces a mean spirit but is generally used as a blending cut and may be found in several of India’s popular brands. The single malt, however, is only sold in India and the very small export market, as it’s not yet available in the United States or Canada.
The whisky, also known as Peated Single Malt, has a very particular and well-marked peated character. With some as young as five years old, their whiskies are very young so shouldn’t be an object of any connoisseurship. The flagship product comes either as a 5 or 7-year-old display of Indian character, sweet flavors and body.
Amrut Distilleries began aging their whiskies in the most traditional manner without the use of any sort of wood chips or extracts. The distiller even tries specifically to use only Indian-grown casks, though most of the ex-bourbons and sherry have been sourced from Spain, Portugal, Jamaica and Scotland.
The whiskies are created in a continuous still, which eliminates any distillate cloudiness, and then transferred to a mix of 500-liter former bourbon and brandy casks, where they sit and rest for anywhere between 3 and 6 months. The distillery’s master blender, Mahendra Kumar, feels it can take up to a decade for the raw new-make spirit to find its desired maturity.
Before bottling at 46% ABV, anything from eight to 18 bottles will be pulled from the cask. If all goes well, they are inspected by the Tasting Panel and release some of the single malt, which has not had as much wood interaction as most single malts.
The nose on the Amrut is somewhat different than any peated variety. The peat is rich, fruity, dried apricot and plums, with some distinct sulfur notes. The palate gives you peat, dried fruit, and honey, followed by an intense burst of spice that leaves your mouth tingling with a fruity and unique sensation that you’ve never had before. It finishes with a nice chilli garlic sensation which lingers on the back of your tongue for a long while.
There are many famous whisky producers in India but the Amrut Distilleries is setting the standards high in that whole region. Amrut has certainly surpassed the production of other brands, and it is also the most successful example of Indian spirit in the whole world of whisky.
Mahendra Kumar is very proud of what they have done. He tells they succeeded in creating some of the most crafted Indian whiskies in the world, regardless of their age, and they are the only distillery creating single malt Indian whisky, again regardless of the age of whisky. The Indian government, meanwhile, has this to say:
“The country produces some of the finest whisky on the planet,” writes Banashri Sanyal, a consultant at the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, “but is yet to acquire the recognition it deserves from MNCs (Multi-National Companies) for its whisky.”
The distillery is managed by one of the most prominent members of the Indian whisky scene, McDowells. Vikram Impex, the Bangalore-headquartered importer and distributor of Amrut Whisky Company products, is looking to introduce Amrut into further markets in the coming months, and hopes to introduce their latest offering, its 5-year-old Single Malt Whisky, by the end of this year.
Among the specially-bottled creations, the Peated Malt is a must. It shows a rich mix of fruits and spices and a lingering smoky palate. Though some may find it a classic example of a young whisky, it is nevertheless a must try for all those who love single malt whiskies.
The Amrut’s Peated Malt is something of a celebration of character – a character that has a mix of dried fruits, some spices, and some smokes, all of it balanced carefully till the whole glass just meets the mark in terms of satisfaction.