I’m a big fan of Amrut and a big fan of high quality, intensely sherried whisky (and, unlike some whisky geeks, I quite like PX sherry cask whiskies as well). And the only other sherried Amrut I’ve had (the Intermediate Sherry) I like a lot. So this purchase was a bit of a no-brainer when I came across it. I did not, of course, come across it in the US. For some reason we don’t get these single cask Amruts here—maybe this will change? Those who keep company with brand ambassadors may know if it will or the reasons why it won’t.
I was particularly curious to see how this full-term matured (though, of course, not a very long full term given the climate issues) sherry cask Amrut would compare to the more complicatedly made Intermediate Sherry which only spends a portion of its maturation period in sherry casks (what type? I don’t know). I opened it for an Amrut vertical I hosted for some friends a month or so ago. We all liked it but I have to admit that, given the high strengths of all the whiskies we drank, they ran together in my mind not very long after the tasting concluded—and I’ve not gone back to it yet since. And so I’m interested to see what I make of it tonight when I have more time to give to it.
In my review of Amrut’s Portonova on Wednesday I mentioned that I’d opened it for an Amrut tasting that also featured three single casks of different kinds. This was the one we started with. Whisky made from unpeated barley, matured for just over 4 years in a single bourbon cask—this was a EU release. I’m not sure why we don’t get these single cask Amruts in the US (unless, of course, we do and I’m just misinformed as usual). I saw one on sale in Montreal when I was there in March. Is this yet more evidence of the relatively immature market for single malt whisky in the US? Or are we poised to get some too soon?
As per the label this cask lost a staggering 42% of its volume during that brief maturation. I think we have to forgive Amrut the fact that they charge higher amounts than we would in the abstract like to see asked for young whisky. Anyway, let’s get right to it.
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.
This is another of Amrut’s gimmicks, I mean experiments. Some of their normal peated whisky, which is matured in bourbon barrels was matured for an additional year in custom made 100 litre virgin oak casks. It was then bottled at British 100 proof (57.1%) and 100 bottles (at 100 cl rather than the usual 70 or 75 cl) each were originally released in five different countries. As the US was not on that list I am not sure if we are only the sixth market to receive the Amrut 100 or if this batch was bottled for a whole new list of countries. At any rate this is bottle 38 of 100 for the US.
Amrut 100 (57.1%; peated; from my own bottle)
Nose: Quite expressive at 57.1%. Much more peat than I remember in the regular Amrut Peated CS. The peat is quite farmy and there’s some lime mixed in with it as well. There’s some vanilla as well, and the powdered ginger I always get in Amrut (would I get it blind or if I didn’t know this was young and part matured in virgin oak?). The farmy/organic peat notes get stronger with time and there’s a little bit of rubber too. With a lot more time there’s some honey and caramel under the farmy peat and more salt too. Water pushes the peat back and lets the caramel emerge along with more of the lime. Continue reading