The Indian market over the last decade seems to have experienced an evolution; where consumers are more cognizant and appreciative of both quality and processes that go into concocting whisky and distillers themselves readily acknowledge this change in demand dynamics with a penchancy to push their brands aggressively into a market with great open potential. In such a short span of time there’s been a rife in the number of distilleries with many a new firing up their stills, building on learnings from the west while also leveraging the local experience and the advantages India’s climate has to offer.
Another recent entrant is the Kamet, named after the third highest peak of the Himalayas, and for good reason too. For centuries streams fed by these mountains have irrigated fertile plains at its base providing life and livelihood. Rivers emanating from these geographical mammoths are also responsible for cultivating wheat, rice, corn and barley for most of Northern India that in turn feed much of the country.. The distillery too like many others sources its barley, more specifically six row barley from these very foothills. They leverage a “special” French yeast to ferment their mash of barley and water and for this specific expression, the resulting wort is distilled and then matured in a combination of casks – American Ex-bourbon, European Ex-sherry (PX and Olorroso) casks and ex-wine Bordeaux oak casks.
The distillery also shoulders a rich DNA; a duet starring Surinder Kumar, a former master blender at Amrut Distilleries and Nancy Fraley, an American master blender who has been associated with several distilleries. The bottling and packaging is vibrant, rich and very cultural, a traditional parrot taking center stage with rich green nuances and purple strokes embracing the bottle. The green parrot is nostalgic as it takes me home to my village where I as a child would see these young and noble visitors gather in trees, pecking on fruits, giving company to the morning dew with its boisterous chirps. A common sight possibly towards the north of India as well, more so in the town of Kurukshetra which is where the distillery calls home!
ABV : 46%
Eye : Deep copper to burnished | Non Chill Filtered, Natural Colour
Nose : Caramel interleaved with cardamom and barley, hints of pineapple, charred cantaloupe, followed by the sweetness of red grapes and dates with wooden nuances, leather, smoke and a subtle whisper of citrus zest.
Taste : Brown sugar with spiced wood, cinnamon sticks, orange and a mild dryness. Char and earthy, melons with sherried influences and grain.
Finish : Medium | Caramel and winey with spiced wood
Quite viscous and velvety, the Kamet is heavy on the palate for a young whisky but with a light spirited character. The nose evolves into a bouquet of sugar and spice with good depth and scale. On the palate however, comparatively it falls a bit short, but the spirit on the whole displays confidence and discipline! Reminds me of traits from the Nikka Coffey series, layered with more pronounced tropical nuances.
At $AUD 115, it falls in the same vicinity as other Indian whiskies holding on to those traditional flavours, but deviates slightly owing to the woody, spiced notes and the memorable sweetness that lingers on, possibly the influence of the Bordeaux casks. The Kamet is robust and well worth the buy, offering a pleasurable experience from the time you hear the liqour glug out of the bottle to the point it dampens your lips and warms your insides. A formidable opponent that has the potential to outclass.