If you’re new to Indian whisky, there is the whisky that’s sold only in India, which is usually distilled from molasses. Then there is Indian Foreign Made Liquor (IMFL), the type of whisky with which much of the rest of the world is familiar.
Founded in 1943 as Rampur Distillery & Chemical Company, Ltd., this Indian distillery didn’t start producing its own brands until 1998. Instead, it made extra neutral alcohol and bulk alcohol that it sold to other brands. But that changed when its new owner, Lalit Khaitan, and his son, Abhishek, learned that more Scotch whisky was consumed in India than what was produced in Scotland!
Think about that last thought… and then consider why there is a massive market for counterfeit spirits worldwide.
The Khaitans had an idea: they wanted to provide Indians with inexpensive Scotch-like whisky since there was, at the time, nothing that could satisfy the demand. After much financing and taking on partners such as Diageo and Whyte and Mackay Group, Radico Khaitan Ltd., as the company was now known, entered the international whisky market. Radico Khaitan operates two distilleries, Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and Radico NV Distilleries Maharashtra Limited in Aurangabad.
The climate in much of India is stiflingly hot. And, if you are in the Himalayan region, it can also get darned cold. Uttar Pradesh is at the base of the world’s highest mountain range and is exposed to both. In the summers, Indian whisky ages much faster than its Scottish counterpart, some claim by a factor between three and five times. When you consider the cold temperatures, too, that only compounds the equation.
The Rampur brand is considered Radico Khaitan’s premium drink division. Today I’m reviewing Double Cask, an Indian Single Malt made from 100% malted barley that’s been run through a copper pot still. The newmake is aged in ex-Bourbon for two-thirds of its long sleep and ex-Oloroso sherry casks for the remainder. It carries no age statement (similar to most Indian whiskies), is packaged at 45% ABV (90°), and is non-chill filtered. The suggested price is $79.99 for a 750ml bottle.
For the record, I’ve had stunning Indian whiskies and others that are far less impressive. The only way to know where Rampur Double Cask falls on that scale is to #DrinkCurious. However, I would be remiss not to thank Rampur for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: This single malt appeared rusty brown when served neat in my Glencairn glass. A thicker rim formed, which yielded wide, fast legs that crashed back to the pool.
Nose: The second this whisky left the bottle, its aroma wafted and filled the room. I let this sit for about 20 minutes before I pulled the glass close to my face. As I inhaled, I discovered pine, stewed pear, and nutmeg. Further exploration offered malt, nut, and toasted oak. The stewed pears slammed across my tongue as I sucked the air into my mouth.
Palate: A thicker, silky texture greeted my mouth, and I immediately tasted grapefruit, roasted coffee, and cacao on the front of my palate. The middle hinted at strawberry, which was quickly overcome by more of the stewed pear. On the back, flavors of toasted oak, nutmeg, almond, and a kiss of clove were evident.
Finish: This long-lasting finish consisted of grapefruit, roasted coffee, oak, macadamia nut, strawberry, and crescendoed with clove.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If you asked me if Rampur Double Cask is more similar to one of the two other Indian Single Malt brands (Amrut and Paul John), I’d tell you that the three are more cousins than siblings. I’d say Rampur is more of a distant cousin. That should not be interpreted as a lesser whisky, just that it is decidedly different.
I admit I was concerned with how this whisky would taste during the nosing. I’m not a gin fan because I dislike juniper, and the pine quality left me wondering. Thankfully, the pine was restricted to only the nose. The tasting experience, on the other hand, was lovely. I enjoyed the combination of citrus and berry fruits; the spice notes were significant yet not overwhelming. In all, they melded together nicely, creating a happy sipping event. At $79.99, I’m delighted to have this in my whiskey library and believe it has earned every bit of its Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.