But allow me to contradict myself…
The Amrut Distillery is located on the west coast of India, in Bangalore, outside the limits of French influence and far from the 18th Century French settlements on the east coast.
Still, I can imagine this titanic libation as the product of a rutty-red, mad Scot alchemist employed by the French East India Company to make novel use of new spices.
All of which amounts to exactly nil.
So… Moving on… Jim Murray gives this fiery libation a 96.5, but I wouldn’t rate it nearly that high.
Or would I?
I’d certainly give it a very high rating as an experience, but not, I think, as a single malt whiskey.
Or would I?
You may know this, you may not: This powerful whiskey is first aged in virgin or ex-bourbon oak, then sent to Spain and put into used Sherry butts before being shipped back to India, where it is later removed and put into ex-bourbon casks to complete it’s maturation (which is a shorter period in India than in most countries because of the heat – a 12 year old Indian single malt would very likely be over the hill).
“In our belief,” says Ashok Chokalingam of Amrut Distilleries, “it is not all about the influence of sherry in the whisky. It is about the balanced profile of the whisky, to see how the sherry butts can complement the whisky rather than dominating it.”
All the same, the color is classic sherry bomb: Ruby dark amber, close to the color of a Macallan Sherry Cast whiskey – the 12, if I remember aright.
It’s strong stuff at 57.1% and the sherry is prominent on the nose and on the palate. As is maraschino cherry.
Also there: A sense that one has stuck one’s head into a vat of furniture polish.
As the nose dips back into the glass, there is a notable swell of stewed fruits and raisins. Slighter wafts of cherry, unripe banana, the syrup from chocolate-covered cherries, some brown sugar, a bit of leafiness and maybe even a hint of mint.
So, despite my reluctance to over-praise the overall package here, this whiskey is indubitably and impressively complex.
It’s most immediate impression, however, is one of sherry mixed with a bourbon that has a high percentage of rye in the mash, drunk in a room full of a cake-maker’s spices and jars of spilled maraschino cherries.
The underlying core malt here is – to my palate, in any case – reminiscent of Benromach 10, but on the palate this core is almost smothered in sherry, spice and a dry alcoholic burn.
This is very strong and powerful stuff. In terms of impact, especially in the mouth, it reminds me a bit of Booker’s bourbon. Not in its complex of aromas or taste profile, but in that rocket fuel level of gustatory impact. All the same, there is the sense of a smoother core in there, reminiscent of, perhaps, Glenfarclas 105?
Again, its complexity makes description a challenge.
A bit of water brings out more oak, some sweetness and smooth, cool custard, but it remains dry, powerful and almost fiery until the long, burning oak-sherry finish.
Something tells me that, despite its peculiar impact on this drinker of scotches from Scotland, the distiller has accomplished with this single malt pretty muchy what he set out to accomplish.
An odd one, as I said – unlike anything I’ve had before. Highly recommended for the more adventurous among you. For the rest: It may bite you, but it certainly won’t hurt you. It has thoroughly piqued my interest, and not only will I go back to this particular bottle – I am already trying to decide what my next Amrut single malt will be.
Check out the distillery here: http://www.amrutdistilleries.com/validated/pages/index.html