I’ve been writing a bit lately about moving on from old distilleries. Which is tough.
No one wants to stop buying a specific distillery’s offerings due to price increases, changes in how it’s being made, or even situations where it becomes so popular that you have to camp out to purchase it.
Which usually means I say go to other sources. Can’t get a Scotch you like anymore? Go to Bourbon. Bourbon went full on tater? Go to Japanese whisky. Some loon said it was ambrosia and the price quintupled overnight and caused shortages that we still see the impact on? Grab some Irish whiskey. People are finally realising how good Irish whiskey can be? Time to grab some Indian whisky.
I could go on. I’d prefer not to, but I typically land back at Amrut when I’m looking for something. But just because it’s from another country doesn’t mean it can’t be impacted by our insatiable need to constantly grow. Someone is going to point out you can sell something with less alcohol, less releases, or with less quality.
Has that happened to Amrut? I have no idea. So over the past few months I’ve picked up the odd sample and reviewed them. Originally I thought I had a few and next thing I knew it all went nuts and here we are.
So is Amrut still a brand known for quality whisky? Let’s see, shall we?
Amrut Blackadder Raw Cask Nicaraguan Rum Cask Finish
Thank you to /u/devoz for pouring me a sample of this whisky.
This all kicked off because I asked my wife to grab blind whiskies. Then my inner “I need to do everything at once” nerd kicked in, and well, here we are.
This is a single cask Amrut that was finished in a Nicaraguan Rum cask. Rum casks are something I’m always shy about: Depending on so many factors that no one human could ever figure out, you either have an interesting, unique cask or a cask that should have been used as a neutral cask for allowing wine to do whatever wine does in a neutral cask.
So we have a not-at-all filtered Indian whisky of unknown age that was finished in a cask that we don’t know much about. One could look at what flavour Nicaraguan Rum has: Light, nutty, fruity, and less wood. Amrut is known for tropical fruit and funky flavours: How will they get along?
Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $185 CAD
Bottled: November 2019
Cask type: Nicaraguan Rum Cask Finish
Cask number BA31-2019
Number of bottles: 174
Colour: 2.5Y 7/10
Nose: Brown sugar, perfume, heat, melon, peach jam, black pepper
The rum cask was not neutral. Which, if I’m being fair, I didn’t actually expect, due to my bias towards Blackadder being super awesome and my real friends who totally would come to my birthday party but they were busy doing rad stuff like snowboarding.
Lots of sweet notes, some heat coming through, and some stone fruit. Oddly enough the funk I associate with Amrut is not here, and more so it’s closer to a Lowland, if very fruity, hot one.
Taste: Strawberry, grass, molasses, gravel
If the nose was full of complexity and odd moments, the taste is simple. Gone are the different fruity notes and left is the C+ student of flavours, strawberry (yes, I know strawberries can be very flavourful but outside of the Northeast of North America good luck getting anything that isn’t “meh”).
There’s a lot of what I assume are the Rum cask flavours as they don’t usually show up in Amrut, with earth, molasses, and grass usually being as far from Amrut as they are from whatever point I was thinking of and my head while I’m writing it.
Sorry, let’s move on.
Finish: Floral, tangerine, brown sugar, dust, cloves
Similar to the nose, the finish comes off with floral, light fruit, no funk, and dustiness. Some spice comes through eventually, but again I’m left feeling like it’s an Amrut that isn’t an Amrut.
Conclusion: The rum cask was way, way too strong and this drinks like a rum (and I wanted a whisky). Or maybe it drinks like a hot Lowland that doesn’t really do that well, but I’m a Lowland whore so perhaps I’m reaching there.
It’s hard to explain this whisky. Are you looking for a Blackadder Amrut like others, which is basically “Amrut on roids”? This isn’t that. Are you one of those people who go for Rum cask whiskies because they are maligned by snobs like myself? Then you may find this too heavy handed. Or maybe it’s totally what you want.
You buy this if you like rum and you like whisky. That’s all. And that’s fine. For me? I wanted more Amrut.
Amrut Bagheera Batch No. 1 was released with two glasses, which I’m not going to lie: Means I’m thinking less of it. Glasses are something we all have. I recommend anything with a lip, like a copita, a glencairn, or a Canadian glencairn (also known as an Irish candle holder, or at least that’s what they were solely used for at a sadly high amount of the bars in Dublin I visited).
These were not. So what is the whisky, not the glass, that’s none of the things I mentioned? As I’m not quite insane enough to be reviewing different releases of glasses just yet? Why is there a question mark there…
Whisky! You’re here for the whisky. It’s a NAS release, non cask strength sherry finished whisky that has a numerical release number and is named after either a character from a super racist story, a social group, a splinter military version of that group, an amazing comic book character, or perhaps just an animal (Bagheera means Tigerlike in Hindi, or used to describe Black Indian Panthers).
How does it taste? Here’s hoping as well as the Black Panthers’ breakfast program and not like the history of the Jungle Book.
Bottled: September 2020
Cask type: Sherry cask finish
Colour: 7.5YR 4/8
Nose: Guava, fried banana, caramel, tahini, red fruit
If the above was none of the funky fruit of Amrut, this is all of it. Fruit, more fruit, some cereal, some nice nuttiness, and mostly sweet notes, though nothing feels like “North American diabeetus rush” and more like “tropical fruit platter”.
Taste: Cereal, pineapple, caramel, mineral, papaya
More cereal, good balance to the fruit with the mineral, and some generic caramel. I wonder which happened first, caramel candy or whisky?
Anyway it’s nice. Still very fruity. As someone who has historically drank higher abv. Amrut I am missing some of the complexity of previous whiskies, however I don’t mind the flavour at all.
Finish: Strawberry, plantain, floral, raisin, mineral
More fruit, more starch, nice floral (maybe that was Amrut), and still has the mineral balancing it all out.
Conclusion: Very fruity. It’s all of the typical fruit with less funk than previous releases. From reading some reviews, I think that’ll work for people. It’ll really work for people who buy things with glasses (it’s a gimmick).
But if you’re an Amrut fan do you need it? Not really. It’s a simple sherry-finished fruit forward Amrut. It doesn’t show off the depths, the raw insanity, and loses some of that cool depth. It’s not totally useless, and worth ordering at a bar. Do you need more glasses? Or stuff? No, not at all.
Amrut Triparva Batch No. 1 is probably my most desired batch of the new Amrut whiskies out there. Why? Because I enjoy Irish whiskey quite a bit, and I do like it when different countries try different things.
In this case, Amrut triple distilled their whisky this time. Simple as that, it’s a NAS offering that used the method typically associated with Ireland (and to some extent the Lowland part of Scotland).
Typically Amrut does two distillations like those in Scotland. Also they didn’t do anything else to this limited release, released it at a respectable abv., and even sent 600 to the USA.
How does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Number of bottles: 6,000
Colour: 7.5YR 6/10
Nose: Peach pie filling, cotton, raspberry syrup, shortbread
Immediate spice and stone fruit notes, some raw grassy notes, some sharp acidity with tons of sugar, and some butter notes. Sugar seems to be the constant here. Or rather it’s fruit that’s the constant and gets everywhere.
Has some dry notes as well to balance it out. It’s quite an interesting mix going on, especially for Amrut. It’s a lot cleaner than the whisky usually is.
Taste: Raspberry, honey, cereal, pear, cloves, metal
Tart, sweet, some floral, and then… metal? I mean, I get it, whisky came for the metal, and the metal destroyed it (insert sick guitar riff here).
It’s simpler here, but the metallic flavour isn’t a surprise, as that can show up in some Irish whiskies I’ve had. Don’t mind it, wish it was a bit more.
Finish: Mineral/sand, peach, cloves, mint, papaya
Very dry finish. I like it. Mint wakes it up, and ends like a good white wine. Nothing like other Amruts, save for some tropical fruit notes.
Conclusion: Fruity and dry all the way through. On the one hand: I’m stoked at the chance they try this again, maybe with different casks. It does taste close to Irish whiskies I’ve had, and I love that profile.
On the other hand, Ireland isn’t going to be rocked by this release. It’s interesting, yes, and was a nice whisky to have, with some fun mint notes, but they need to flex a bit more complexity to come for the big guns of Ireland. Right now, if you see this and are an Irish whiskey fan, get it. If you’re just an Amrut fan? May not scratch your itches.
Amrut Fusion X Batch No. 1 is the weirdest mix of Japanese and American gimmicks that my head is spinning.
On the Japanese side, you get a porcelain bottle. Or is that American? It’s almost both. It’s so tiny but looks cool.
Not to mention it’s celebrating the 10th anniversary of Amrut Fusion, a whisky that helped bring me into enjoying Amrut in general. Amrut Fusion is, of course, whisky made with Indian barley and peated barley from Scotland.
Finally for all you “people” who want something extra in the part we’re all here for (geez ya jerks), it’s also finished in ex-PX Sherry casks. Which I love.
How’d it turn out? Let’s see, shall we?
Finished in Ex-PX Sherry casks.
Colour: 2.5YR 6/12
Nose: Creamsicle, smoke, molasses, peanut, burnt sugar
No, I don’t like oranges, but I did like creamsicles. Which aren’t orange, they are whatever that chemical was pretending to be orange. The smoke/peat is pretty simple here, with some nice sulphur notes and some burnt sugar elements.
Taste: Cardamom, ginger, smoke, apricot
More orange, but there’s ginger and smoke and it gets a bit more tart to an apricot flavour, and mostly falls into spice… So I’m actually digging it.
It’s a bit of peat and some sherry, of course it’s tasty, who am I kidding?
Finish: Smoke, anise, parsnip/arugula, cinnamon, peanut brittle
The finish feels so close to an earthier Islay at the end. Maybe even a peated Highland? I’m splitting the difference at this point. Some of it works well, with the vegetal getting a bit in the way of the sweet aspects, but I’m still liking it.
Conclusion: Orange isn’t too overt, all well balanced, and spice forward. I feel like it’s a slightly upgrade over Amrut Fusion, and let me be clear: I mean that in flavour only, and that’s a high bar to clear. So congrats! All it took was one of the tastiest casks out there.
This one is for the Amrut fandom at the end of the day. You pay more for a slight different release that happens to come in a very nice looking case. I’ve spoken about pretty cases before: They draw in people, they collect dust, and while I get the appeal, it’s not totally for me. So try this if you get a chance, and buy it if you’ve been buying Fusion as a daily drinker.
Amrut 7 2012 Aatma is a special limited release single cask Amrut. Aatma is Hindi for Soul or Spirit, called this because we’re aiming to get to the Soul of the Spirit (or whisky).
Which is a tall order, really. It’s why I’ve been reviewing these whiskies. Distilleries evolve with time. They have periods where the whisky is great, and periods where someone in charge of the money demands more and they decline. Thus we have a 7-year-old single cask offering that’s aged in ex-bourbon barrels and released only to the US.
Is it a key to whatever nostalgia I’m looking for? Am I too damaged and hurt to ever feel it again? The fact I’m still playing Mario and Zelda games says no quite, so let’s see if this will grow my heart three times the size, shall we?
(That’s meant to be a callback to the Grinch who Stole Xmas, and I realise I made it sound like Amrut will cause me a heart attack. I’m not hoping for that, and it didn’t, just to be clear).
Distilled: October 2012
Bottled: March 2020
Cask type: Ex-bourbon barrels
Number of bottles: 90
Selected and Bottled for: USA
Colour: 7.5YR 5/8
Nose: Papaya, cooked sugar, caramel-date sauce (think sticky toffee topping), mint, canned peach
Tropical fruit, some strong sugar notes that go to strong date notes, some mint to balance out the sugar (and pair well), and then some sugar laden peaches.
Yes, I’ve had much more complex noses on an Amrut. However they were close to this, so I’m intrigued. Get that random X-ray and someone with a low voice ready!
(That makes it sound like I’m into a crossdressing nurse kink, which is only half correct, and was meant as a callback to the Grinch joke that may not have worked before).
Taste: Ginger, salted caramel, peach, butter, char
Some heat, still an excellent caramel note, and some buttery, char, and peach. Lots of different flavours, and while not as interesting as the nose, I’m drawn to it.
Finish: Banana, raspberry, milk chocolate, heather, basil
Okay, now we’re talking: Funky, acidic, creamy, earthy sweet, some floral, some herbal… The finish is what I was looking for, totally.
Conclusion: Complex, interesting, good flavours. This is what you pour people to get them into Amrut, or at least it’s what all Amrut poured used to be (for us snobs who hunted them down). You get the tropical note, you get some funk, you have a mixture of different flavours, and the entire whisky just sings. Is it perfect? Is it the best single cask Amrut I’ve ever had?
No, I’m a lucky Sum Bitch who’s tried a lot of different whiskies, but are they easily available? No, so you get this and are a happy camper.
Amrut Spectrum 004 (2021) may have a typo on the label. I went looking, and it’s a fair reaction: Amrut released this late 2021, we’ve only had 3 months of 2022, and there hasn’t been another one announced, so I’m treating this like the 2021 release it most likely is.
That out of the way, the new Amrut drinkers among you will ask: What’s a Spectrum? Seeing a rainbow from a company usually means that company is being more inclusive, or at least feigning it for a month of the year. It’s not cut and dry if that’s still helpful or not to society and the LGBTQA+ community.
It’s not that. In this case Amrut has grabbed up a cooper and bought multiple staves, and then had them recombine those casks to make a franken-cask. Then they poured whisky in it to give it a second maturation.
In the past the amount of casks were 5 for the first release, 4 for the second in 2017, and now 4 in 2021 again. What have we lost? There used to be Spanish oak in the first batch released.
Will we notice the lack of Spanish oak this time? We did in 2017, but we were drinking more often then because of… well, look around, so who knows? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: € 159
Bottled: September 2021
Cask type: American oak, French oak, ex-Oloroso, and ex-PX Sherry
Number of bottles: 6,000
Colour: 7.5R 2/8
Nose: Hazelnut, grass, fresh linen scent (cheap chemical note), raisin, strawberry
Nutty, grassy, clean (really clean), with the two sherries not really hitting until later. There’s no real Amrut flavour coming out on the nose, as in no tropical fruit and no funk, but let’s be honest: We’re dealing with a wacky cask. It’s going to be hard to get the spirit out of it.
I’m getting lighter notes than I did in 2017. Gone are those rich, unique notes and now we have a mixture of sherry and virgin oak cask elements.
Taste: Anise, raspberry, papaya, sunflower Spice, more grass/nutty/seed notes, and then some Amrut flavour. Last Spectrum was 6.5 years and felt like it hadn’t reacted with the cask. This one shows the cask influence, but it’s taken over now.
So yes, I’m basically Goldilocks, but drunker. And I sleep in slightly less bears’ beds (not that anyone should feel bad about that, I’m just making a double entendre to poke fun).
Finish: Grape, cloves, grass, peach
Fruity, spice, and it just peters out. Really too bad.
Conclusion: Oh how the mighty have fallen. When Spectrum first came out it was a game changer. Worth every bottle you bought.
Hell, looking back, the 2017 was very similar: While it may not have worked “as well” as the original, it’s not the type of whisky that you’d send to the door (or auction) without debating it.
This? The nose was fun, and the rest just felt muddied. The nose is the only part that feels like multiple casks. The taste I’d compare to Intermediate Sherry, and the finish feels like it’s approaching the standard OB offering.
Oh well. Maybe the next Spectrum will be worth it.
Amrut 5 2015 Ex-Rye Cask is another single cask, this one bottled for those wild and crazy peeps at Drammers Club. Do I know if they are wild and/or crazy, for certain? Not at all. I’m lucky if I meet a new person each year, let alone an entire whisky club.
What about the whisky though? Simply enough it’s an ex-Rye cask (first time having an ex-rye cask Amrut) Amrut that’s 5-years-old.
In the past we’ve seen ex-Rye casks work nicely with subtle malts. Amrut isn’t typically what I’d consider subtle. It’s about as subtle as I am, and I am a blunt asshole.
So let’s see how it worked, shall we?
Cask type: Ex-rye cask
Cask number 709
Bottled for: Drammers Club
Colour: 10YR 7/6
Nose: Guava, raspberry, cassia buds, cocoa, raisins, lime
Tropical fruit, acidity, some spice, and some acidity/richness. All of that is known as: What I’m looking for in an Amrut, save it’s cleaner again. No funk.
I’m like an old guy showing up to a dance club (see, only old guys call them dance clubs) and sad about the lack of music I like (I happen to like funk and missed the neofunk craze).
Nice nose though.
Taste: Cherry, violets, banana, bubblegum, toffee
Some funk, some well developed sugar, some floral elements. Fruit really takes over, and the bubblegum notes are sticking out a tad, but that’s because I stopped chewing gum awhile ago.
Finish: Cherries jubilee, heather, cloves, orange, cinnamon
Lovely complex finish, more fruit, more floral. Gets very clean again. Perhaps the funk only sticks around with younger Amrut? Or perhaps it didn’t show up here. Love the spices.
Conclusion: A clean, very fruity, and well spiced Amrut. I’m surprised they were able to make this whisky work, only because Amrut typically is that bombastic and I had been told the impacts of ex-Rye requires a lighter whisky. Granted I also reviewed that person’s whiskies recently and perhaps they aren’t as onto things as I thought.
None the less what you get is cleaner Amrut (less happy), sweet notes, and a good amount of spice. Another whisky I’d easily pour for someone who is both an Amrut fan and someone I want to try more Amruts. I’m still looking for a bit more funk (personally), but damn is this tasty.
Amrut 6 2014 Oloroso is another single cask! Yay, right? I write less for them!
So what we have here is a 6-year-old ex-Oloroso sherry cask whisky bottled for those crazy fun guys, gals and in-betweeners at K&L Wine Merchants. So we’re still trying to hunt down a similar quality/profile of Amruts of the past. Why? They were high strength and got me more into whisky.
As I’ve already said (at some point in this long review series), when it comes to sherry I lean towards ex-PX casks over Oloroso. But there’s been some tasty ex-Oloroso whiskies as well, so I’m not barring anything yet.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Bottled: June 10, 2021
Cask type Ex-Oloroso
Number of bottles 396
Bottled for: K&L Wine Merchants
Colour: 5YR 4/8
Nose: Walnut, strawberry, cloves, soil
Yeah, there’s sherry involved. Nutty, strawberry, earth, and spices. Totally sherried.
On the other hand, is this Amrut? Is it whisky? Can’t smell beyond the sherry, even with time, patience, lack of patience, and water.
Taste: Currant, lots of fennel, cherry, grass, nougat
Wow, that’s a lot of anise. I like Anise. Roast a fennel bulb, give me an Italian sausage (buy me dinner first), and hand me all the Nordic black licorice you can. So I’m good. Mixes into a grassy note and the cherry and other sweet aspects make this black licorice heaven.
Well, close to it, at least. It has some balance issues. I like it, but I have a huge sweet tooth.
Finish: Red licorice, ginger, raisin, black pepper, dry apple
Some of the licorice with some fruit, more spice heat, and some rich notes. Finish is dry which works because dry finished drinks are nice (they clear your palate). It’s right on the cusp of being overdone though: Beyond some similar flavours between sherried whiskies and standard Amrut (ginger, raisin), this feels like it was put into quite the wet cask.
Conclusion: The sherry hasn’t totally taken over the whole whisky, but damn is it close. This is for the Oloroso fans out there. If you love Oloroso heavy whiskies buy a bottle. It’ll do all those things you dream about and don’t tell a soul.
The nose is way, way too sherry forward on this one. The rest was nice, but again you may not love the sherry amount of anise flavours in the taste like I did. It’s nice, but probably not the strongest single cask whiskies out there.
Amrut 8 2012 “SCWC Exclusive” Ex-Port Pipe was originally bottled for a group of tame and completely sane guys/girls/in-betweeners at the Southern California Whiskey Club. Do I personally know if they are tame and/or sane? Not at all. Don’t get out, keep up.
What I do know is for a while there you had to start a full-on shared Excel to keep up with Amrut peated ex-port pipe single casks. I got to a point where I just had the samples, because there were so many.
Now those are all gone, but the wacky, out of the box thinkers (probably, who knows) at SCWC had a new idea: What if it was un peated and older?
Let’s see, shall we?
Cask # 4672
Cask Type: Ex-Port Pipe
Malt Type: Un Peated Indian Barley
Date of Filling: April 2012
Date of Bottled: June 2020
No. of bottles 396
Selected & Bottled Exclusively (Originally) for: Southern California Whiskey Club
Colour: 10R 3/8
Nose: Cloves, pumpernickel, chili flakes, raisin, strawberry, cake icing
Obvious port cask is obvious, but as opposed to what I was looking for in Amrut before, this is less in your face and more so having a nice conversation with you in a professional format.
Still quick sweet, though it’s balanced with some richness, some well developed cereal, spice, and some rich notes. So we’re in Amrut territory.
Taste: Cloves, anise, passionfruit, toasted grains, almond
Spice, more spice, tropical fruit, and some interesting cereal/nutty notes. Port cask is playing nice with the Amrut whisky, it’s not too much, and is quite tasty.
Maybe those SoCal whisky nerds are onto something.
Finish: Anise, cinnamon, molasses, toast, raisin
Finish basically is the taste without fruit. Well, full water fruit. Dry fruit? We got that. Simpler, but still very tasty. Nothing too strong, even though it’s made up of typically strong flavours.
Conclusion: Subtle and spice forward. An odd way to end out the whole review series. I came in here wanting funk, spice, tropical fruit, and weird casks. And I feel like the funk has dissipated over the years. It’s probably due to the fact that funk is a polarising flavour. Otherwise blue cheese would cost a lot of money.
This cask? Worth picking up. Yes, the two above were better and yes, more complex, but this is probably the easiest and cheapest way to have an 8-year-old Amrut. It’s a solid, calm dram, that could open up a tasting or be in the first 3, at least.
World Whisky review #426-434, India review #38-46, Whisky Network review #2235-2243