After a week of reviews of whiskies from one distillery (Kilkerran: here, here and here) and before that a week of rums (here, here and here), let’s do a week of reviews of whiskies from three different distilleries. The connecting thread this week will be sherry cask maturation and we’ll take them in order of increasing age. First up, a 6 yo Amrut that was bottled for K&L in California. I liked the last Amrut I tried that was bottled for an American store very much indeed. That seven years old was triple-distilled and matured in bourbon casks (bottled for Spec’s in Texas) and so this is not likely to have very much in common with it. I have had other sherry cask Amruts before, though, that I have liked very much—not least the regular release Intermediate Sherry (is it still a regular release?)—and so I am hopeful that this will be good too. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ve ever had an Amrut that wasn’t at least quite good (and I’m too lazy to look up my scores). Okay, let’s get to it. Continue reading
This week of reviews of Indian whiskies started out on an unexpectedly strong note with the new’ish Kamet single malt and picked up even more steam with the triple-distilled Amrut 7 yo bottled for Spec’s in Texas. The Kamet was put together from a mix of bourbon, sherry and wine cask matured spirit; the Amrut was from an ex-bourbon cask. Here now to close out the week is a sherry cask whisky from the Goan distillery, Paul John. I visited the distillery in 2020 (read about it here) right before the pandemic hit. I remember seeing sherry casks in the warehouse but didn’t hear anything about their plans for that spirit—I was on the basic tour; it’s possible they say more about their cask programs if you sign up for the tasting following the tour. Anyway, I don’t know if they’ve released any full-term sherry matured whisky. This is a oloroso finish bottled at 48% (there’s also been a release of a cask strength 7 yo oloroso finish). As per Whiskybase, there have been at least four numbered batches in this series and their Whiskybase scores are all over the map. I have to confess that I don’t know which batch this sample is from (I will check with the source). I do hope that it will provide a good end to this week of Indian whisky reviews. Let’s see. Continue reading
A week of reviews of Indian malt whiskies began with one from a new distillery: Kamet. I’ll continue now with the distillery that really put Indian whisky on the single malt aficionado’s radar: Amrut.
Over the course of the last decade Amrut has added to its core roster of malts—the Fusion and the unpeated and peated variants of its base malt—with a number of special releases. They’ve also bottled a large number of casks both for specific markets and for retailers across the world. This is one of the latter. It’s a 7 yo bottled for the Spec’s chain in Texas. It is made from unpeated Indian barley, triple-distilled and matured in an ex-bourbon cask—a far cry from the last Amrut I reviewed, the Naarangi, which featured an infusion of oranges. Not very many Scottish distilleries triple distill. In Ireland, of course, it’s far more common and I’ll be interested to see if there are any Indo-Irish crossovers here. And speaking of Amrut’s core roster of malts, I’m quite out of touch with the current state of all of those. I should look into some recent releases at some point—especially as it appears that I’ve never reviewed the Fusion. Continue reading
The month in whisky reviews started on Friday with a 26 yo Speysider (from Dufftown). Let’s take a bit of a left turn for the first full week of June. This week’s reviews will be of whiskies from three different Indian distilleries. This first one is from a distillery whose existence I literally did not know of until I saw this bottle on a shelf at Total Wine in Burnsville, MN: Kamet. They’ve apparently been around for a few years, though I’m not sure how long their whisky has been available in the US. Unlike Amrut and Paul John, and like Rampur, Kamet is located in North India—the name comes from the Himalayan peak (so it says on a label on the back of the bottle, which contains a rather large amount of marketing twaddle—a “tale told by a parrot” and whatnot). Despite knowing nothing about the distillery, I was unable to resist the impulse purchase. With tax it cost me about $70, if I recall correctly, and these days that’s almost a reasonable price. This is, of course, like most Indian malt whisky, an NAS release. It was matured in a mix of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and ex-wine casks and is bottled at 46% without artificial colour etc. I fully expected to regret this bout of cultural nationalism but the first couple of pours were decent enough. The bottle has sat for a few since I opened it and I’m interested to see what I make of it now. Continue reading
I’ve had Indian Masala—along with Godavari—at the top of the 2020 and 2021 editions of my Twin Cities Indian restaurant rankings but until last weekend we had never eaten in the restaurant. We first ate their food in late 2020—during what we’d then naively thought was the height of the pandemic—and then again as takeout in 2021. On the first occasion I’d gone in to pay and the long-neglected interior had not looked very prepossessing. Once they opened back up I had reports of the dining room having been more or less redone and looking much shinier. I also heard lots of promising reports of the special buffets they’d begun to run. (Most of these reports came to me via Mike McGuinness—the man behind the excellent East Metro Foodies group on Facebook and almost certainly Indian Masala Fan #1.) They now have special vegetarian/vegan buffets during the week and occasional Indian Chinese buffets as well. And on Saturdays and Sundays they put out what they call their Grand Weekend Buffet. Given our high opinion of the food from their regular menu, this seemed like a promising situation and so—having made our return to in-person dining last weekend at Grand Szechuan—we showed up last Saturday to partake of it with a couple of friends. How was it? Read on. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
It’s been a year and a half since my last Amrut review—what kind of an Indian am I? It’s not my fault though: there just isn’t so much Amrut around in the US. The last one I reviewed—the Amaze, a single cask release for an Indian club—was bottled in late 2018. This one came out half a decade earlier. A NAS release (like most Amruts), I purchased it right after it was bottled in 2013. Like most Amruts it’s also been bottled at an eye-wateringly high proof. The bottler is Blackadder. They’ve put out a large number of Amruts, far more than any other bottler—Whiskybase only lists a handful of others and they only seem to have one or two each. I wonder what Blackadder’s connection is. The cask was first-fill sherry. I rather liked the last sherry cask Amrut I had—this PX cask—and their Intermediate Sherry is one of my favourites, if now a little too expensive for my wallet. And so I have high hopes for this one. Let’s see if they’re borne out. Continue reading
If you’re wondering what the Amrut Amaze is, you’re probably not alone. It is not a regular release from the distillery, though it is an official bottling. It was bottled for the Single Malt Amateurs Club in India in November and only made available to their members. I am not one of these members. I read about the whisky when Serge reviewed it last year. As I was going to be in India in December, I reached out to Hemanth Rao, the founder of the club and asked if it would be possible to taste a sample and possibly buy a bottle. I suspect the bottles were long sold out by the time I got in touch with him (via O.W.I member, Billy Abbott) but he was kind enough to arrange for a sample to get to me in Delhi. I’m not sure what the cask details are but I assume it is a single cask. This release is said to be the first of three through the club. It was priced very fairly at Rs. 3300 (or about $44)—which makes me think I should probably try to become a member of the club before the next two releases hit. Anyway, I was looking forward to tasting it, and here are my notes. Continue reading
Here in quick succession is a second Paul John. Unlike yesterday’s Select Cask Classic this one is a single cask and it is also peated. The cask was bottled for the Dutch outfit Bresser & Timmer. That is where my information ends. As to where the malt was peated, I’m not sure. I know Amrut imports peated malt from Scotland for at least some, if not all of their peated releases—it’s almost midnight as I’m typing this and I’m too lazy to check if it’s all for all of them: is there such a thing as Indian peat? Anyway, maybe somebody with better information will chime in.
I opened this as well at the same tasting that featured yesterday’s bottle and it fared a lot better than that one—a couple of people even had it as their top whisky of the night. Let’s see if this has also improved as the bottle has stayed open for a week. Continue reading