Indian whisky has spent much of its time in the shadows of obscurity, battling a dysfunctional, highly aberrant whisky production system, lacking quality control and an absence of any such handbook of sorts. The good news however is and there are a handful of distillers (more like a pinch really!) that are doing a great deal of work aligning in parallel to global standards. And it’s one of the expressions from one such distiller that I plan to run you through – The Amrut Amalgam!
The Amalgam is not to be confused with the Fusion, a possibility if you were to loosely go by what these names literally meant. Both expressions hold their own ground, one being a single malt and the other being a blend. And No…the Amalgam isn’t your regular grain-malt mix but rather the first vatted whisky from an Indian distiller. The malts used are sourced from all across the globe: Asia, Scotland and those produced locally which are then skillfully blended by Amrut’s master blender and married in casks for a short while to craft what we know as the Amalgam.
This limited edition bottling was released in December of last year, a pseudo release in reality, with bits on social media making appearances much later, by early March. Distribution was targeted locally at first, with the plan of expanding overseas towards the second half of the year. The Amalgam is currently being sold exclusively in Haryana, Chandigarh and Mumbai – which explains how I accidentally stumbled across this blend; and will with time expand to Goa, Karnataka (no surprises here), Telangana, West Bengal and a few Union Territories including Delhi.
Batch 01, Mfg: 13-01-2017
Eye: Deep Copper – some E150 caramel coloring
Nose: Some sweet white wine layered between earthy wood, peat and moist ash, followed by rich malt, dark chocolate, honey, and caramel. Some floral hints of rose and red apples with a sprinkle of pepper and bits of clove and ginger.
Taste: Warm, malty and fruity with some tart from berries, star fruits and tangerine. Mildly woody and peat like with hints of honey, apples, spice and some cinnamon.
Finish: Medium- Sweet and fruity with mild white pepper.
The Amalgam is medium bodied and rounded leaving a waxy feel around the insides of the mouth. A NAS version perhaps, but does seem to be aged more than what you would expect at first thought- isn’t a surprise since some of the malts come from the distillery itself, where the tropical climate hastens the maturation process.
The flavor profile is dense, almost close to confusing. I would suggest it best to dilute the whisky with a few drops of water to help cut through the convoluted mesh – exposing those hidden nuances making the experience a lot more distinguished.
This Amrut isn’t peat rich and from the looks of it seems to exhibit more ex-bourbon like characteristics – not a bad thing! It hovers a bit higher that the median – enjoyable, likeable and interesting but one lacking a certain complexity that misses the bullseye from being an ‘in your face’ tipple. A good option for an occasional sip but wouldn’t qualify as a crowd puller, especially if you were to consider the price.
PS: This tasting is dedicated to the relationship between man and machine; one which goes back eons! Our fellow stone-age ancestors, the Neanderthals, had their kicks using sharp-edged stones while our brethren, the Sumerians, invented the wheel which revolutionized all things in motion. Fast forward to today, the more modern and tech savvy millennials are spoilt for choice with their fancy tech-toys, gadgets and new aged machines.
And for someone who’s not getting any younger, every chance I get to ride is a reminder that men age like fine wine (read ‘whisky’) – the journey just gets better with time!