Amrut Narangi

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 50% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Amrut and I have had a love affair ever since I picked up a glass of the Amrut Fusion and wondered Since when did the Indians start making whisky this good?

That was over five years ago and since then I have managed to put every single Amrut release on my shelf. No mean feat given it’s almost complete scarcity weeks after release. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

I like to think of Ashok, their GM of International Sales, Global Brand Ambassador and over all good guy, as a good friend and so it was at a small dinner at a mutual friends’ house that Ashok decided to surprise us all. For he had with him this particular expression (three months before it’s official launch) which he decided to share it with all of us.

At the time he made me promise not to write anything about it and so I refrained from taking any notes and simply sat down to enjoy the whisky. Luckily for me I had the chance to try it again a few days ago at a friends’ place who also managed to secure me a bottle!

In line with Amruts’ increasingly crazy experimental gene this single malt has seen a truly unique maturation. Matured first for three years in bourbon the spirit is transferred to a specially prepared Oloroso Sherry cask.

For three years that barrel had been sitting with Oloroso Sherry that had been mixed with orange peels. Oranges from Madikeri located in the picturesque Western Ghats of India which imparted a truly unique citrus and sherry combination to the oak.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 50% ABV

Nose: Lightly toasted oak. Orange peel (duh). Dry leaves. Rich sherry. Chocolate. Mint leaf. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Jute bag. Vanilla. This is a super rich nose and the orange is quite prominent, though, thankfully it does not overpower. Amrut noses are seldom flawed and neither is this one. 22/25

Palate: Good weight. Nice body. Coats the mouth with chocolate. Cinnamon. There’s that orange again. But more of an orange cake this time. Oak. Black pepper. Ginger. This is a nice twist. Makes me want to bust out my Compass Box Orangerie and conduct a head to head. This ticks just the right amount of unusual for me. 22/25

Finish: Extremely long. Oily. Lip smacking cinnamon. Best of part of the experience. 23/25

Overall comments: I’ll be honest. I walk into an Amrut knowing that I’m going to like it and, quite frankly, am unashamed to be biased. They’ve done a lot of good in a very short space of time. Ashok is a solid gentleman who loves his craft and lives by it. And when you can pull of bizarre experiments like this then what’s not to like?

Rating: 89


Amrut Cask Strength – Bottled May 2006

Amrut caskStrength May2006

Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 62.6% | Colour: Deep Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 94


Everyone knows I have a soft spot for Amrut whiskies. It is easily in my Top 3 distilleries of all time. Not because it’s from India (where my wife and so many close friends are from). And not because it’s brand ambassador and Whisky Icon of 2012, Mr Ashok Chokalingam, is a dear friend.

It is actually because they ensure that the local community benefits from gainful employment. They employ scores of women to work in their distillery even though they can quite easily automate the process and save a ton of money.

But they choose not to. And for that they will have my undying respect.

Now add to that extremely lofty work ethic the ability to produce some of the most delicious spirit the planet has ever seen and you will begin to understand my infatuation with this little giant of the whisky industry.

Don’t ask me how but some how I managed to snag the holy grail of Indian whiskies: the first ever cask strength Amrut ever released. A beautifully complex young ‘un that has been first matured in virgin oak and then in first-fill bourbon.

So intense is the transfer of flavor from the bourbon barrels that, before I fact checked with Ashok himself, I was quite convinced that there was some sherry involved in the making. But that’s not the case.

This is a gorgeous cask strength spirit served at 62.6% and bottled in May 2006. My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Cadbury chocolate. Hint of smoke. Caramel. Oak. Red grapes. Red berries. Clove. Black pepper. Red apple. Demerera sugar. Touch of salt. There is a sweet earthiness to this whisky with the spices in the fore. A few drops of water will make it even more spicy. Tremendous.

Palate: Clove. Chocolate. Fudge. Cinnamon. Garam masala. Red grapes. Caramel. Burn oak. If I didn’t know any better I would think there was some sherry involved. Almost PX like. But now I know it’s the virgin oak. Powerful stuff.

Finish: Long. Oily. Cinnamon. Oak.

As with all Amruts the magnificent oak almost always plays a central role. Such is the case here as well. This is one cracking dram which I’m quite privileged to have gotten my hands on.

And you know the best part? I’m meeting Ashok next week and he has no idea I’m going to serve him this.

Rating: 94

Amrut Fusion

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 50% | Color: Copper
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Those of you who know me know that I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to anything Amrut. I heard about this distillery from Bangalore from an Indian friend of mine and was then pleasantly surprised to hear that a certain Mr Murray had rated it as his Top 3 for the year.

Intrigued I set about trying to snag a bottle but given the distillery’s ridiculously tiny output and (at that time) limited distribution it was proving to be an extremely tough assignment.

Anyway, after much perseverance (twelve calls to the distillery and a friend traveling from India) I somehow finally managed two. Luckily for me it was totally worth the favor I had to reluctantly pull.

At 46% they were intended for the local Indian market which gave me a hankering for the 50% export expression. By that time my local distributor had some in stock so it was much easier scoring a third bottle.

Amrut Fusion is a blend of peated Scottish barley and un-peated Himalayan barley. Distilled separately using water from Punjab both spirits are left to mature independently for three to five years in ex-Bourbon barrels and then married together to create what is, arguably, my favorite thing to come out of India.

PS: If my wife is reading this I meant to say second favorite thing.

This sample is from Batch No 10 bottled in May 2011 and opened over two years ago. The oxidization seems to have made this even better than I remember.

Nose: Strong barley. Honey. Peat. Salt. Coffee. Chocolate. Mocha. Perfectly ripe bananas. Crisp pears. All spice. Hint of husk and breakfast cereal. Funnily enough it has a sherry quality to it even though there is none involved. A warm captivating nose.

Palate: Creamy mouthfeel. Peppers. Orange marmalade. Honey. Raisins. Figs. Almonds. Cream puff. Chocolate. And that oak. It’s the perfectly crafted oak that makes this delivery quite sensational.

Finish: Oily. Long. Spices. And that magnificent oak.

This is the dram that put a traditional rum making distillery on to the whisky map. The expressions that followed were genius but they were dared on the back of this savant.

Rating: 93

Amrut Single Cask #3437 (Bourbon Cask)

Amrut bourbon

Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 62.8%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

I was fortunate to host Mr Ashok Chokalingam at an Amrut tasting in Dubai and he was kind enough to bring with him no less than three single cask expressions – recent releases from Amrut. One of them was a cask strength ex-Bourbon expression served up at a glorious 62.8% ABV.

What an absolute gem!

Nose: Multi-layered and highly complex. Butterscotch, dark toffee and apples are brushed with aromatic tobacco leaves. Let it breathe and out comes through a mound of vanilla chocolate covered in coconut. Exactly like a Bounty chocolate bar!

Palate: The unrelenting palate is dark pepper spicy with chocolate fudge and orange with a healthy grating of ginger. Adding a drop of spring water allows you to mull it on your tongue for longer.

Finish: The long cinnamon and dark chocolate finish gets a touch nutty with some water.

It’s easy for distilleries to hide behind gimmicky maturations but this expression puts its’ money where its’ mouth is.

Rating: 92

Amrut Single Cask #2699 (PX Sherry Cask)

Amrut sherry

Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 62.8%
Colour: Deep Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 23
Balance: 22

At a recent Amrut tasting which I hosted for my good friend Mr Ashok Chokalingam we were treated to three (as yet un-released) single cask expressions that the distillery had decided to put out. Of the three one of them was PX Sherry matured spirit served at a no-nonsense 62.8% ABV.

Nose: Big and fruity with a lot of clove followed by a tumble of dark autumn fruits. Reminded me of dark currant jam on brown bread.

Palate: Intense chocolate, cinnamon with toffee dusted with dark coffee powder. A few drops of water allows the flavors to mellow out and be enjoyed for longer. Very creamy mouthfeel.

Finish: The long woody cinnamon finish makes you sit down for a while and keep taking deep breaths.

This series of single cask releases is going to go a long way!

Rating: 90

Amrut Single Cask #2712 (Port Pipe Peated)

Amrut port

Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 59%
Colour: Young Sauternes

Nose: 22
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Mr Ashok Chokalingam, global brand ambassador for Amrut distilleries, has a very big heart for he decided to share with us three (as yet unreleased) single cask expressions at a recent tasting in Dubai. I was lucky enough to sample this particular peated Port Cask matured single malt served up at cask strength.

Nose: Wonderfully balanced peat with a dollop of meat stew. Look past the savory and the sweetness starts to come through with sugar syrup on French toast and chocolate on red grapefruit. A delightfully engaging bouquet.

Palate: The peat is brilliantly balanced on the palate and accentuates the chocolate covered figs and oranges. There is hint of dough as well – could be that nice French toast.

Finish: Long with a smear of peppery jam.

This is a super limited release so if you find it in your neck of the woods I suggest you get your hands on it immediately.

Rating: 91

Amrut Greedy Angels


Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 50%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

A few months before this much awaited whisky was set to launch Amrut’s brand ambassador, and my good friend, Ashok, sent us a sample. He wasn’t looking for an opinion – he was just being nice. Letting us take a sneak peek into the oldest (released) Amrut ever.

Greedy Angels is named for the excessive evaporation that the Bangalore weather forces on the maturation process. Word has it that over 274 liters of spirit was lost in this 8 year experiment making this expression possibly the rarest Amrut in the world.

Nose: A marriage of two ex-bourbon casks the nose is unmistakably that – bourbon. But there is layer upon layer of complexities forcing you to sit and ooh aah over every new aroma you discover. First the honey, toffee and vanilla. Then a bowl of stewed fruits topped with crushed biscuits, cardamom and the faintest of cinnamon. Let it breathe a bit and it becomes dry almost like a fortified wine taking on some butterscotch and green pears.

Palate: The creamy palate makes a lovely transition from the nose with honey, toffee and vanilla as the central characters all ably supported by pleasant star anise and strong jasmine tea.

Finish: The long finish is warm oaky and sprinkled with black pepper.

A lovely robust malt which makes you marvel at how the folks over at Amrut rarely put a foot wrong.

Rating: 93

Amrut Kadhambam


Distillery/Brand: Amrut | ABV: 50% | Region: India | Colour: Full Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Amrut expressions are extremely rare on the ground given their limited runs thanks to a policy of quality and not quantity which we all appreciate. They are also subject to the most cruel levels of Angel’s Share thanks to the hot and balmy weather of Bangalore. And so when they released the third edition of this rare expression I just had to get it.

Kadhambam in Tamil means ‘mixture’ and that’s exactly what this malt is. Matured in four different casks – new American Oak, rum, sherry & brandy – it mixes and marries flavor profiles from all influences.

Nose: It’s restrained in a confident manner. It doesn’t come rushing at you on all 8 cylinders yet neither does it shy away from expressing itself. The American Oak announces itself first with a lovely bourbon-y smell complete with vanilla, some chocolate and caramel. The rum is next with it’s dry dates and banana. The sherry with it’s clove and finally the brandy with a whiff of wild flowers. The subtle nuances coupled with the complex make this quite a nosing experience.

Palate: Now the palate I would have liked to fire on all cylinders but the restraint continues. The woody caramel delivery is sprinkled with cinnamon and cocoa powder and completely coats your mouth in a creamy goodness. I hung on for a long time to try and get some more out of it but couldn’t. And that’s where it loses a couple of points.

Finish: Long and dry with the same chocolate, oak and spice setting up permanent camp on your taste buds.

This is not my favorite Amrut but it’s a damn fine one. And I have to give them props for not shying away from doing things no other distillery would even dare. Thanks to them we experience flavor profiles we could not have dreamed possible.

Rating: 92