This first batch of Amrut’s Portonova was released in 2011 and I purchased my bottle in early 2012. I have no idea why I’ve waited so long to open it. Well, open it I finally have and it was on the occasion of a vertical tasting of a number of Amrut I held for a few friends in town earlier this month. We drank three single casks along with it: a bourbon cask, a sherry cask and a peated port cask. The Portonova was third in the sequence but I think it was the consensus, and perhaps even the unanimous favourite on the night. I’m not always a fan of port cask whisky, and generally the ones I’ve liked most have been peated in the bargain, but on the night I really liked it. Indeed, I thought this might have been the best port cask whisky I’ve had to date—I certainly liked it more than the peated single cask. Let’s see if I like it as much tonight when I have more time to give to it for a formal review.
This is not full-term matured in port casks/pipes, by the way. It’s made the same way as their Intermediate Sherry. It starts out in bourbon casks then goes into port casks for a brief while and then goes back into bourbon casks for a final marrying. Portonova is a better name than Intermediate Port, I guess.
Amrut Portonova, Batch 1 (62.1%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Closed at first. Then a hint of rubber followed quickly by a nutty, raisiny note. Right below that is the expected red fruit: cherry liqueur and plum jam; the powdered ginger I usually get from Amrut is mixed in with the red fruit notes, keeping them from getting cloying. Some nice polished wood as well. After a couple of minutes it’s somewhat cough syrupy but in a good way, if such a thing is possible. The wood gets a little dusty after a bit and the whole gets a little drier. Water pushes the red fruit back and makes it all much mellower; some apricot now along with orange peel and a bit of toffee; a minute or so later some sweet pipe tobacco as well.
Palate: Hot but not unapproachable: the fruit is all very tightly rolled up together, however, with a generic sweetness followed by an indistinct acidity. Drinkable but needs water. Well, let’s give it a bit more time first: 15-20 minutes in it begins to open up with cinnamon and plum and some lime, but it’s time for water. Ah yes, here’s the fruit: much more citrus now than red fruit (though the sweetness is still around) and the cinnamon is less assertive.
Finish: Long. Drying and spicy and increasingly tannic at first and then there’s the cough syrupy sweetness (along with some lime); should open up nicely with water. As on the palate with water: less tannic, less drying and far more citrus than cough syrupiness.
Comments: A wonderful nose, especially with water added—very nice development. Water opens up the palate nicely too but there’s just not as much happening there (though perhaps with more or less water I might like it even more). Still, I think this may be the best port cask whisky I’ve yet had. Are the later batches as good?
Rating: 89 points.