Rampur is the latest Indian malt whisky to hit the market, following Paul John and the more established Amrut. Unlike those, Rampur is based in North India. The distillery was established in 1943, before India gained its independence, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that they started distilling malt whisky—until very recently most of this went into their own blends. The distillery is owned by Radico-Khaitan and produces a mind-boggling volume of neutral spirit from molasses and grain, and also produces and sells a large range of whisky, rum, brandy and vodka (feast your eyes on the company’s romantic website). Most of these are for the Indian market—unlike the Rampur Select, which is only for the international market. This market now includes the United States. This release showed up here earlier this year and is going for anywhere between $60 and $75. Presumably, a large part of this is going to recoup the cost of the ludicrous packaging (each bottle is inside a silk pouch inside a round tin) and whoever they paid to come up with the purple prose of the marketing materials. Among other things, we are told that Rampur is the Kohinoor of single malts—I guess that means that the company will shortly be illegally taken over by the British crown. On the tin we’re also told that the princely state of Rampur rated a 15 gun salute—they’re going to feel really silly when some distillery located in an ex-princely state that rated a 21 gun salute puts their whisky on the market.
Rampur Select Casks (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Fruity in an artificial fruit-candy’ish kind of way: some melon, some peach, some pineapple. And floral in an artificial air freshener kind of way. Which is not to say that either the fruity or floral notes are off-putting—more that they don’t really have any depth to them. A bit of wood under all that but not much else really. Time and water knock back the artificial notes but don’t bring out anything interesting.
Palate: Starts out a little blank and then picks up a spicy woodiness and some indistinct, grainy sweetness. None of the fruit or flowers from the nose are here, more’s the pity. And the mouthfeel’s a bit too thin. More of the oak on subsequent sips but it’s not overbearing. With more time it gets maltier and there’s just a touch of fruit (peach?). More oaky bite with water and after a little while it gets fruitier still (though not very fruity).
Finish: Medium. Not much development beyond a slight maltiness. With time some of the fruity notes do pop out at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This has a long way to go to catch up to Amrut. And I’d put the few Paul Johns I’ve had ahead of them too. There’s promise here though—this is nothing special but it also doesn’t have any flaws and is drinkable enough; and who knows, there may be single casks that are much better. It’s also possible that at a higher strength the fruit would do more talking on the palate. If the bottle didn’t cost $60 (at the cheap end) I’d say it’d be well worth a shot to satisfy curiosity. But at this price I’d recommend trying before buying.
Rating: 80 points.