So far in August I’ve sandwiched two weeks of brandy and rum reviews between two weeks of single malt whisky reviews. Let’s close the month with a review of a release whose category identity is a little more ambiguous. The Amrut Naarangi—of which this is the 5th batch—is made in a complicated way. Amrut takes casks of sherry, adds Indian oranges to them and lets them macerate. The casks are then emptied, filled with Amrut’s spirit and allowed to mature for an unspecified period of time before it is bottled. In Scotland this could not be labelled whisky. Compass Box’s Orangerie—which is made in a similar manner—is officially a “whisky infusion”. In India, however, genre boundaries are looser—a lot of Indian whisky is, of course, technically rum—and so Naarangi is sold as a single malt whisky. Is this an outrage? I don’t know—a lot of contemporary sherry and wine cask whiskies taste to me like infusions made with far less care. The more interesting question is whether this is any good. Let’s see.
Amrut Naarangi, Batch 5 (50%; 2018 release; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Definite notes of orange peel mixed with the usual Amrut ginger to produce a medicinal quality. Below that are cereals, malt and a bit of toffee. A few drops of water amplify the citrus (brighter now) but this is still solidly a whisky.
Palate: Comes in a bit blank and then there’s a peppery burst. The citrus is not very talkative here—not at first anyway. Decent texture at 50%. On the second sip the orange peel infusion is present here too but it’s in the background—this still tastes like whisky, not an orange liqueur. I can’t say I’m getting a whole lot of sherry influence here nor the usual Amrut ginger-malt-rosewood complex. Water brings out more of the pepper and some oak.
Finish: Medium-long. Gets spicier and then oaky as it goes. More citrus here with water and the finish is longer.
Comments: This is very pleasant, very drinkable. But it didn’t really do very much for me. The orange is not very obtrusive but on the palate it seems to nonetheless have sawed off/muted both the idiosyncratic Amrut notes and the sherry influence. I wouldn’t turn down another pour but I don’t need a bottle of this.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample! (Read his review here; he liked it more than I did.)