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Amrut Innovations

by Gavin D Smith, 11/10

Indian whiskies are rare beast outside their home market, with the exception of single malts produced by the enterprising and innovative Amrut distillery, located in Bangalore. Amrut Distilleries Ltd belongs to the NR Jagdale Group, founded in 1948, and is now one of India's leading industrial businesses.

kadhambam Amrut first released a single malt in the UK market during 2004, and subsequent bottlings have included peated and cask strength variants, along with the well-received Fusion, produced using 25 per cent peated Scottish malt and 75 per cent unpeated Indian malt. Recently, however, Amrut has raised its game still further, offering a pair of limited editions, namely Amrut Intermediate Sherry Matured single malt and Amrut Kadhambam.

The former represents a first in that the malt has been aged in Sherry casks between periods maturing in either Bourbon or virgin casks at Amrut's Bangalore distillery. Ashok Chokalingam of Amrut Distilleries Ltd says that "In our belief, it is not all about the influence of Sherry in the whisky. It is about the balanced profile of the whisky - to see how the Sherry butts can complement the whisky rather than dominating it.

"As a result we tried the intermediate sherry matured concept where our new spirit was matured in ex-Bourbon or virgin casks, then the whisky was matured in Sherry butts for a certain length in time in the tropical climate of Bangalore. Next the Sherry butts were emptied and the whisky put in ex-Bourbon casks and matured for a further period. The result is something unique and we achieve a better fusion of Bourbon and Sherry notes in complementing the trademark Amrut characteristics in this single malt whisky."

Amrut Kadhambam takes its name from the Tamil word for 'mixture,' and it was created from an experiment with one single batch of spirit, which was matured in a variety of casks at the Bangalore distillery. "We were striving to come up with a completely different whisky with multi-personality characteristics," explains Ashok Chokalingam. "The multiple notes of aromas derived from the individual casks make Kadhambam quite unique."

Kadhambam is the result of Amrut single malt whisky and a small amount of Amrut Peated single malt whisky being initially matured in ex-Oloroso Sherry butts. It was then filled into ex-Bangalore Blue Brandy casks and matured for a further period. Next it was emptied into ex-rum casks, where maturation continued. Both the brandy and rum casks had previously been used to mature Amrut's own rum and brandy brands, which are very popular in the Indian market.

Not only did the maturation involve a mixture of casks, it depended on carefully judging the different lengths of time the whisky spent in the individual casks. "As the three different ex-casks were going to offer different profiles, we had to be careful on the length of maturation," notes Chokalingam.

the whiskies

Amrut, Intermediate Sherry Matured Single Malt (India)
Exotic spices and fresh flowers on the nose, plus a hint of honey. The nose flattens a little with time. Very lively on the palate, with plummy, oriental spices, and background furniture polish and new leather. Drying oak and persistent spice in the finish. Available in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Western Canada and USA. 57.1% ABV, 70cl, 60.00, specialist whisky merchants.
Amrut, Amrut Kadhambam (India)
A fragrant nose with a dusting if icing sugar. Sweet and fruity, with almonds. Richer molasses notes develop with time. Full-bodied and mouth-coating, with pepper and lots of vigorous, emerging spices on the palate. Medium length in the finish, with tropical fruits and spicy oak all the way to the end. Available in Europe, Scandinavia and Western Canada. 46.0% ABV, 70cl, 65.00, specialist whisky merchants.

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