Amrut Blackadder Raw Cask

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 62.3% | Colour: Dark Copper
Nose: 8.8 | Palate: 8.4 | Finish: 8.6 | Overall Score: 8.6

Review
I don’t need to remind anyone of my complete and obvious bias towards Amrut whiskies. Pioneers of fearless whisky making is what they are. They do things to their whiskies that would make the collective Scotch Whisky Association turn in it’s grave. Once it’s dead and buried, of course.

Cask seasoning, multiple flavour staves in one barrel, maturing on different continents – you name it, they’ve done it. They’re the mad scientists of the whisky world except instead of blowing stuff up they make some of the most delicious liquid on the planet.

Aside from their weirdly wonderful experimental expressions are their single cask offerings which are universally quite phenomenal if you ask me. And independent bottler Blackadder seem to think so too. They’ve bottled this sherry cask as part of their Raw Cask series which essentially means that the spirit is drawn straight from the cask without any dilution or filtering. Proof of which you can see in the form of charcoal bits floating in the bottle.

Whisky the way it’s meant to be drunk, I strongly believe.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at a scrumptious 62.3%

Nose: Coffee. Lots of it. Tiramisu. Dark chocolate. Burnt caramel. Betel nut. Betel leaf. Starts off sweet then turns savoury. Green cigar leaf. The oak here is solid. Cracking nose this. High-pitched aromas hinting at a young whisky but enough complexity and intensity to keep me entertained. 8.8

Palate: Big. Big. Drying. The oak is the dominant force here. Just about threatens to overwhelm but is pulled back by a late dark chocolate and cinnamon coffee arrival. With water it mellows out a touch. The chocolate is a touch sweeter now and more pronounced. However, overall it remains quite savoury. 8.4

Finish: Huge. Oaky. Drying. Quite spicy. Touch of fruits with a drop of water. 8.6

Overall Comments: Great little whisky this. I don’t expect any less from these guys. My first Blackadder bottle as well and so I’m quite happy to search for new ones. Find it. Drink it.

Overall Score: 8.6

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

Review
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

Review

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

Review
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 Malt

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 46%
Colour: Sunlight

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

Review
I have had a love affair with Amrut ever since I first heard of them a few years ago. They are easily the most intriguing brands out there. Young, exotic, brash and not afraid to take risks. And, boy, do they come out with some corkers!

And while we all go gaga over their insane experiments it’s this humble expression that started it all. Initially distilled and aged for just one year it was used exclusively in blends. However, a stroke of fate (and a blending decision) meant that there was a lot of unused stock left over. A decision was made to leave it for longer to see what would happen. The result? This particular liquid.

Made exclusively from Indian barley and matured in oak barrels this super young whisky (it’s between 3-4 years thanks to faster maturation in hot Indian weather) feels and tastes like a 12 year old!

Nose: Lots of salty sweet pineapples and lemon drops. The young age and freshness comes through a nice sugarcane, cucumber and coriander juice. The malted milk in the first couple of sniffs disappears and is replaced by a husky almond oak.

Palate: Strong like all Amruts tend to be. The lemon sponge cake is peppered with cumin seeds, husky nuts and a drizzle of fish oil.

Finish: Medium to long with it’s oaky white pepper in lemon mist.

This is not my favorite Amrut – only because my favorite Amrut is miles ahead of anything I’ve ever tasted. But if you want to be shocked and taken on an exotic journey then my advice would be to start here.

Rating: 88

Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 61.8%
Colour: Gold

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

Review
The folks over at Amrut are unafraid, I’ll tell you that. And they keep you on your toes. From their zany experiments to their high-strength monsters there’s enough to satiate even the most adventurous of all malt-heads. And this Cask Strength version is a worthy addition to their crazy lineup.

Nose: Now I don’t want to appear all dramatic or anything but this Indian whisky is reminding me of ‘mithai’ – Indian sweets made from nuts, sugars and milk. Literally it’s like walking into an Indian sweet shop. You can find coconut, almonds, cashew nuts, rose water; basically every single ingredient that goes into making ‘mithai’.

Poetic or delusional? You decide.

Palate: Fierce and comes at you with a dark chocolate coffee fruit cake covered in orange slices, prunes and creamy pralines. An intense delivery firing on all cylinders.

Finish: Long and full of intense cinnamon and cocoa powder.

Frankly, I think this would have worked equally well at 57% (I did the math and diluted it) but obviously these guys know what they’re talking about so what do I know?

And if you’re too much of a pussy to drink it straight then just add some water. Like I did.

Rating: 90