Indian Whisky

Review: Amrut Peated Cask Strength Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Peated CS.jpg
ABV
62.8%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

A fully peated, cask strength whisky, from Amrut. They also offer another version at 46%. All the barley in this whisky is from Scotland, peated to 23 ppm.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 12

  • Bottling Code: 41640

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Woody, floral (in a dried flower sort of way), vegetal, and peaty with dried fruit and caramel- quite an interesting one here weaving together some very interesting flavor camps. Strong peppermint (like candycanes) too, alongside the rich oakiness. The mintiness, is, in fact, almost like the menthol-like nature of freshly milled green cardamom when amidst the various spices here. But of course we have so much more: dried apricot, dried pear, dried hibiscus, apple seeds, apple sauce, and almost a general mixed bag of spices that all meld together – cloves, cinnamon, saffron (particularly), black peppercorns…This isn't aged long but feels as though it is full of fabulous age - that Indian climate certainly does its work! Not overly peaty, though the earthiness and light smoke are certainly around, especially towards the end of the palate. Complex, interesting, and very nice. With water, it grows a bit, and apple emerges more fully....but I like this one at full strength more. A winner.

Score: 94/100

Value: 93/100 (based on $107)


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 28

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: Jan 2016

Recently at the airport, and I was debating between picking up batch 28 or batch 35. There was a remarkable difference in colour – 35 was much lighter. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to roll the dice with perhaps a more cask influenced bottling, but I decided to - given how much I loved the oaky intermediate sherry earlier this year. I was intent on buying another to see if there was more peat influence.

A dense, rich, gorgeous nose. Woody and tropical and slightly floral: Leather, heather flowers, lavender, dried peach, dried apricot, dried papaya, light sweet smoke (wood smoke/char rather than vegetal peat smoke), custard. The palate is quite smoky, and rich – fire roasted chickpeas, lots of dried fruit, oak – ever so slightly astringent, in a good way -tannins and tobacco play in lightly. Finish is lightly smoky, vegetal, dry – still lots of tropical fruit and dried fruit. There’s a growing richness and smokiness, a flourish of spice, and I get some more tobacco oils (like the finish of a good cigar, a few hours after it has been smoked).

Batch 12 was more malty, less woody, less smoky – and sweeter. That being said, they are definitely in the same family, and they are both brilliant. This is smokier, and, oddly, brighter at the same time. I like this with a touch of water added – it’s a bit too dense at cask strength. Richer, smokier, but not as well balanced as batch 12. A terrific buy, I should have picked up 35 as well...

Score: 93/100

Value: 89/100 (based on $107)


Review: Amrut Single Cask Peated Port Pipe Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Peated Portpipe 2.jpg
ABV
59%
Aging
Port Pipe
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

Here is an odd one: Indian barley smoked with Scottish peat, matured in a port pipe.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Portpipe/2712 filling: Jan 2011, bottling: Feb 2016, one of 660 bottles

  • Bottling Code: Above

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Really interesting notes on the nose – dried orange, spicy barley, cinnamon, anise seed, and vanilla. Light creaminess throughout. The combination of the berry-like port, with a bit of oxidation, is really interesting with the peat. Really interesting spices – green peppercorn. Rich oak and biscuits really come out on the undiluted at CS.

The palate is fruity, spicy, and smoky – still quite dry. It’s an odd mix – lots of stewed fruit as well, but it doesn’t quite come together despite having a set of solid flavours. The dried fruit (surprisingly bright) sits above, the peat underneath, and the spices oddly in the middle. The finish is tannic and spicy, with a touch of sweetness and cacao. The spices are sweet – in line with cinnamon and star anise.

Interesting, and integrated, but lacking balance

Score: 82/100

Value: 44/100 (based on $90)

 


Review: Amrut Intermediate Sherry Single Malt Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Intermediate Sherry 2.jpg
ABV
57.1%
Aging
Ex-bourbon, virgin oak, sherry casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

Here we have a sherry monster, but it isn't a "finished" whisky in the traditional sense - it's part of Amrut's tendency towards mad casking....it is whisky which starts in ex-bourbon and new barrels, is transferred to sherry casks for a year (and perhaps port?), and then transferred back into ex-bourbon casks. Hence "intermediate" sherry.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 20
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Really nutty and biscuit-y on the nose. Sharp, spicy, and woody (this is a dark whisky!), and very interesting – berries, and loads of nuts of a different sort than I am typically accustomed with whisky – brazil nuts – chocolate, green cardamom, marmelade, raisins, and rich tea biscuits.

 

The palate is incredible – rich and chewy, with a nice set of barley-driven earthiness and loads of rancio! Finishes with lots of dried fruits, spice, and rancio. Full of flavour. Marmelade, brazil nuts, dried apricots, raisins, almonds, currants. Wow. Has quite a bit of structure with all the wood involved and the light tannins. The finish is full of rancio, currants, dark chocolate, malty beer and burnt wood. A touch of matchsticks, too.

Quite different than portonova, which is a bit more malt driven and fruity (fresh, as opposed to dry). But, bigger, more flavorful, and more complex. I like it more.

Terrific whisky from Amrut.

Score: 91/100

Value: 70/100 (based on$120)


The Value Score: 2.0 by Jason Hambrey

Of all the features of my website, the most feedback I get is about my value score - it's a mathematical formulation of value based on the average cost for a given rating and a deviation from it - i.e., if, based on standard "market" values, a whisky rated 85 is worth, on average, $53, then if the whisky is cheaper than $53 dollars, it is of high value, and if it is more expensive - it is of low value. The statistical formulation is shown in a previous blog post here, if you want the details. Because of the interest (and importance) of a value score, I have added a page to the website describing the best value whiskies. Check it out!

The story of how it came about is simple - I decided to graph all my whiskies which I had rated according to price and value. What I found, surprisingly, is that there is a rough trend - higher scores, on average, came from whiskies that cost more. After carefully selecting 300 standard whiskies which I had rated, I came up with an "average" line. You can see what I mean in the graph below:

The value score has served well, and I enjoy the result: I only rate the whisky, I input the cost, and mathematics does the rest. However, it relies heavily upon assumptions (of which there are many) - how the average line is defined, what whiskies I consider "standard" to set the market value, and what standard deviation to use (I am an aerospace engineer, so please forgive the jargon if you are lost). The implications of each assumption is actually staggering- so it has taken me some time to digest the score methodology itself. However, given my data of 500 or so whisky reviews, I don't have enough data to let stats do all the work - so these assumptions are necessary.

There has been one outstanding issue with the score as is - I have found that higher rated whiskies are not quite highly rated enough. For instance, a Longmorn 18 year old, at a price of $140,. which I rated a 92, was a bottle I bought two of even though it would have a value score of 64. That being said, it's not a bad value score and $140 is a decent amount to spend.

This lead me to look at options to tweak value scores at the higher end of the scale - by increasing the "average" line of what a whisky is worth for higher scores, or by changing the standard deviation for higher scores - meaning that a greater difference in price from the average cost of such a whisky matters less. But, as I said before - is this valid? Really, it implies that for higher rated whiskies value doesn't quite matter as much dollar for dollar. And then, you think, is it value? After tweaking around with the analysis, doing some more number crunching, I realized that, on a global scale, interesting tweaks help a little, but not a lot. So, the options for me: continue to refine and adjust my assumptions to try to come up with something "perfect" or just use the value score as a rough indicator, rather than the law. Coming up with more assumptions to adjust the score just means that it is more fine tuned to myself, specifically. Option 2 is way easier, and way more appropriate - it is a relatively simpler formulation of how I regard value which actually fits a broader population than just me. All this to say - despite its flaws, I have decided not to change the value score. A few considerations:

  • Beyond the assumptions, which I deem to be reasonable, the only subjective part of the value score is my taste rating of a whisky (which, indeed, is subjective - palates are incredibly diverse).
  • All prices are set to the Canadian Market. Thus, whiskies may be more valuable in different regions of the world as certain whiskies are cheaper than others depending on the market. I always say what the price is based on, but all scores are adjusted for inflation/increase in value so that the value score remains consistent with how the market value is increasing.
  • For different areas of the world - take a look at the average line in the graph above, representing the average cost for a given rating. This line corresponds to a value score of 72. If your whisky is the equivalent of $38 (the standard deviation) more expensive than this line, its value is 40/100. If it costs $38*2 = $76 less, its value is 15, etc. If it is $38 cheaper than the blue line for a given rating, its value is 91. If it is $76 dollars less, its value is 99. Etc...if you are in to this send me an e-mail.

Review: Amrut Spectrum Indian Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50%
Aging
3 yrs ex-bourbon; 3.5 years in hybrid cask (described below)
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

This whisky, it would seem, was a really wild late night idea. The whisky is a limited release of 1000 bottles, and is made from a single malt that was first matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 3 years before being further matured for 3.5 years in a barrel consisting of a hybrid barrel made from 5 different types of wood - new American oak, new Spanish oak, new French oak, ex-Pedro Ximinez sherry and ex-oloroso sherry. Not really a "finish", more of a maturation as it was quite a long period - hence, we expect lots of wood(s) influence here.

Thanks to Eric at Whisky Analysis for the sample.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

A gorgeous nose that you don’t have to work hard for. The complexity of the charred oak, dried fruit, maple, rancio from the sherry, creamy light bourbon notes alongside light vegetal notes, bean sprouts, celery seed, caramel truffles, and some rich grape notes that remind me of moderately aged Armagnac. Some nice spices, as Amrut seems to produce – that I don’t find elsewhere often – toasted citrusy ones like cumin and coriander. Caraway, too. The nose, also, smells lightly tart. Very complex, and layered with all of the oak and the finishing – not, however, very grain driven.

The palate, indeed, is a bit sour, and our malt finally takes hold. On top, rich rum cake, candied fruits, currants, prunes, figs – and underneath some beautiful rancio and clove. The finish is very full of sherry, brown sugar, molasses, and toffee. There is some fruit hidden in behind it all – pear and dried mango. Though it’s a very nice whisky, my question is - where’s the middle? All of the rich rummy and toffee notes on top, the dried fruit, nutty, and spicy finish – but the middle is a bit blank except for a bit of fruit that I need to go looking for. So, incredible complexity, but not intricate movement of the best of the best. But don't get me wrong – this is still terrific.

Score: 88/100

Value: 4/100 (based on $250)


Review: Amrut Portonova Indian Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Portonova.jpg
ABV
62.1%
Aging
American Oak and Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

This whisky, in some batches at least, receives some of the highest scores that I see in whisky. The whisky is unpeated, aged in american oak barrels (new and ex-bourbon) before being finished in port casks for a few months and then dumped back into ex-bourbon casks to marry before bottling. It isn't aged long, like most Amrut whiskies, only about 3 years before finishing.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 5
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Amrut is wonderful at cask strength. Grape, corn husks, fruity malt, raisins, prunes, and loads of maraschino cherries, and oak…quite a brilliant nose. A bit of toffee with time. Very concentrated at cask strength – the aromas – time softens them nicely. The grain is a bit earthy – I quite like it when that side of the barley is highlighted, and it is wonderful here. The palate is full of stewed fruit, with quite a bit of barley showing too, especially just before the finish before it is concentrated. The end shows quite a bit of dried fruit to it as well – full of flavour. And lots of toffee. Nutmeg and cinnamon on the finish too. High quality stuff, though not as captivating as the peated CS version I had earlier. Not too many port monsters that you see nowadays…this is quite beautiful, restrained, yet full of flavour. Some batches, I’ve heard, are quite unbelievable.

Score: 87/100

Value: 31/100 (based on $150)


Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Indian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Fusion Single Malt.jpg
ABV
50%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

This well respected malt comes from a distillery near Bangalore, India. It sits at a stunning 3000 ft. above sea level, and has produced malts that have left even the Scottish amazed. Amrut means the “drink of the Gods” and aptly describes some of what they produce.The location means for a different maturation process – they lose much more through evaporation to the surroundings than a distillery in Scotland (or most places, for that matter) and the heat causes more wood-spirit interaction enabling them to mature excellent spirits quite quickly.

This whisky, Amrut Fusion, is named as the malted barley used to create the whisky comes from both Scotland (25% of the barley, and this portion is peated) and India (the remaining 75%). The fact that a large chunk of the barley is for India, along with the unique maturation conditions results in a malt that some unique flavours I haven’t find anywhere else. The whisky, roughly, is four years old, so it’s quite young – but as described above it doesn’t take as long to get a fair bit out of the wood.


Review (2012)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: There is smoke cleverly hidden among some roasted malt (as if you made a loaf of bread from malted barley – not as dense as malt loaf, but lighter), pear, vanilla, caramel pudding, apricot, and there’s another fruit, seeming of tropical nature. There’s some creamy orange, as if a pudding was made with orange peel. The nose does well to sit with…I find I can enjoy taking my time with the nose.  There’s even a touch of mint in places. I do like this nose! And it is growing on me as my glass sits…A creamy, rich, fruity nose with hints of smoke and spice.

Taste: The whisky hits the front of the tongue, with some beautiful sweet maltiness and honey before a bit of salty smoke comes in mid-palate amidst some oranges and peaches, and then a dose of slightly bitter oak before the spices roam around your tongue gently after the whisky.  Oak is also present throughout – it’s not overly oaked, but there is a light oakiness to it, and it’s a touch sappy. It’s quite juicy, and has a quality to it that reminds me of grapes. It has quite the effect on the palate – it certainly spices up your mouth and leaves it warmer for a bit after the whisky has gone down, almost as if you put a pinch or two of cayenne pepper in it.

Finish: The oak comes in at first, and there’s nice feel to it. It has bits of fruit – honey, wintergreen, orange and dried apricot, but not a lot of it. It’s a bit of honey sweetness in the finish, too. There is the slightest hint of dry smoke, as well, which grows. I do quite like some of the tingly spice which plays with the mouth for a bit, though, and it keeps my attention very well. The finish seems to draw your mouth together, as if your cheeks expand. However, a bit more flavour in the finish might not be so bad.

It is quite an interesting whisky, and I do like the fruit in the malt as well as the spice. It’s odd – it almost asks for a bit of water, and I think they could have produced a pretty great product at 46% as well. I think sometimes the spice can be a bit much, and water can help, and yet I think it flattens out the experience a bit.

Score: 87/100

Value: 65/100 (based on $86)