Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

Friday, January 27, 2023

Amrut Fusion Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



The first Indian whisky to earn worldwide attention is Amrut Fusion. Amrut has been distilling in Bengaluru since 1949, but it didn’t enter the Single Malt Whisky market until 2004. Amrut invented the category, as prior Indian whiskies were distilled from molasses, not grain.

 

In 2009, Fusion was introduced in Glasgow, Scotland. Then, it went to Western European countries, but it still wasn’t gaining much traction, until it garnered the attention of Malt Maniacs, who awarded it the Best Natural Cask Whisky. And in 2010, Jim Murray claimed it was the third-best whisky in the world.

 

Both Amrut and Indian whisky have come a long way. Amrut has several expressions and won many awards. The category is no longer a curiosity, earning a solid fan base.

 

Today, I’ll explore Fusion and all it has to offer. It is an aptly-named Indian Single Malt whisky because it starts with 75% unpeated Indian malted barley and 25% peated (8-to-10ppm) Scottish Highland barley distilled separately and then married for about six months in ex-Bourbon barrels and virgin oak casks. It is naturally colored, non-chill filtered, and carries no age statement. You can expect to pay about $65.00 for a 50% ABV (100°) 750ml package.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Indian whiskies, they give up about 12% to the angels each year. As such, it matures much faster than its Scottish or Irish counterparts. Also, if you’re scratching your head trying to figure out how a whisky made from both Indian and Scottish malted barley yet still considered a single malt, that’s because everything is still coming from a single distillery.

 

I received a 50ml sample from a friend who manages a local liquor store. Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover what this whisky is all about.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Fusion presented as a dull, golden liquid. A medium-thick rim formed medium-wavy legs that rolled down to the pool.

 

Nose: A kiss of smoke attempted to hide apple, pear, citrus, and dark chocolate. Caramel shot across my tongue when I drew the air past my lips.

 

Palate: My initial sip offered a full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Earthy peat, lemon peel, and vanilla hit the front of my palate. The middle consisted of candied orange, walnut, and dark chocolate, while the back featured sweet tobacco, leather, and smoky oak.

 

Finish:  Fusion created an Energizer Bunny finish that seemed to run forever. Flavors of peat, brine, leather, and charred oak carried to the end.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Fusion is, in a word, excellent. Is it the third-best whisky in the world? I don’t get into those kinds of comparisons because they’re silly. I can, however, tell you Fusion is worth every penny and even more. It would not only make a fantastic introduction to Indian Single Malts but one for peated Single Malts as a whole. It would be silly as well not to give this one my 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.

 

 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Amrut Portonova Single Malt Indian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


One of the fascinating realms of the Wonderful World of Whisky is Indian Single Malts. If you’ve never had one before and you’re a fan of Scotch whisky, you’re missing out. Indian Single Malts share characteristics of Speyside and Highland malts. What differentiates whiskies from these two nations is the use of six-row barley in India versus two-row nearly everywhere else and the significant climate differences. Things in Scotland tend to age slowly, whereas, in India, you can count on a multiple of three to four years for every one in Scotland. In India, the angels steal about 12% of the barrels yearly!

 

There are a handful of major distilleries in India, and the oldest one that produces single malt is Amrut. The name, translated from Sanskrit, means nectar of the gods. While Amrut started distilling in 1948, it didn't launch a single malt until 2004. It is also the first Indian distillery to win awards for its Indian Single Malts. Amrut’s distillery is located in Bengaluru, India.

 

Today I’m exploring Amrut Portonova. It is the same whisky as the Amrut Cask Strength Single Malt, distilled from 100% Indian six-row barley and aged in former Bourbon casks. Portonova carries no age statement, but it spent three additional years in tawny port pipes once it matured. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. It is packaged at 62.1% ABV (124.2°), and a 750ml bottle retails in the neighborhood of $135.00.

 

Portonova has been absent from the market for the last three years due to port pipe issues (I read into that supply challenges due to the pandemic). The 2022 version is the first reintroduction.

 

Amrut’s US importer is Glass Revolution Imports, and I’d like to thank them for providing me with a sample of Portonova in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste what this whisky is all about.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Portonova was the color of dark chestnut. A husky rim released watery tears that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: An enticing aroma of plum, caramel, toasted coconut, cherry, English toffee, and sandalwood wafted from the glass to my nostrils. When I pulled the air through my lips, plum and milk chocolate were easy to find.

 

Palate: I discovered a medium-weighted, silky texture as I took that first sip. Cherry, plum, and milk chocolate were on the front, while caramel, banana, and cinnamon powder graced the middle. The back tasted of black pepper, “meaty” oak, and clove.

 

Finish: Portonova possessed one of those very long-lasting finishes. It consisted of cherry, plum, cinnamon, chocolate, clove, and oak.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I found Portonova a real treat. There was no questioning that it was finished in tawny port pipes. But, if you didn’t know this was an Indian whisky, you might swear it came from the likes of The GlenDronach or BenRiach. For $135.00, this is something you won’t be unhappy buying, and it earns every bit of my 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.

 


 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Paul John Christmas Edition 2022 Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Christmas Edition is Paul John Whisky’s annual year-end release. It also serves as a prelude to what the distillery has up its sleeve for the subsequent year. As you can imagine, some are better than others, with my favorite to date being the 2020 release.

 

But what, exactly, is Paul John? It is a product of John’s Distilleries, the maker of the world’s sixth-largest whisky brand: Original Choice Whisky. John’s Distilleries was founded in 1996 and is partly owned by Sazerac. Paul John is its Single Malt brand, one of the three major well-known Indian labels, along with Amrut and Rampur.

 

The distillery is located in Goa, India, in the western part of the nation. The average temperature in Goa is the high 80s to low 90s (Fahrenheit), which translates to a naturally-accelerated aging environment. It is suggested that there is a 3:1 ratio compared to Scottish or Irish counterparts.

 

Six-row Indian barley is utilized, which is said to have a higher protein and fiber content. It leads to an oilier whiskey than two-grain barley. Any peat that Paul John uses is sourced from Islay and the Highland regions of Scotland. Fermentation takes 40 hours or longer before the mash is distilled through its copper pot stills.

 

The 2022 release is familiar in many ways to the previous editions: it carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and weighs in at 46% ABV (92°). And what’s similarly different is the cooperages used. This year, the unpeated component aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and brandy casks, while the peated matured in Oloroso sherry butts. It has a suggested price of $79.99. While Christmas Edition is a limited-edition whisky, my experience with the previous releases is that it isn’t overly challenging to find, even for several months beyond Christmas.  

 

Before I get to the always exciting #DrinkCurious part of the review, I must thank Paul John for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass suggested a chestnut-colored whisky that created a thick rim and syrupy legs that fell back down to the pool.

 

Nose: Lovely smells of molasses, cinnamon, fig, apple, pear, nutmeg, almond, and oak encouraged me to sniff as I attempted to find every available note. It made my mouth water, and when I breathed in that vapor through my lips, I tasted warm brandy and fig.  

 

Palate: I encountered a full-bodied, oily texture, with flavors of dark chocolate, plum, and candied nuts greeting the front of my palate. Fig, orange zest and butterscotch tantalized my mid-palate, while soft, earthy peat, cinnamon, and oak formed the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish featured dark chocolate, pepper, plum, dry oak, and peat.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Christmas Edition 2022 is another grand-slam home run. The attractive color, the complex aroma, the sweet and savory palate, and the slightly spicy finish were magical, just like Christmastime. If I had to find a fault, it would be the length of the finish. I wish it were longer. I loved this whisky, and I believe you will, too. It has earned every bit of my 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.

 


 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Indri-Trīni Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


Indri refers to an Indian village at the foothills of the Himalayas near the Yamura basin. Temperatures range from 32°F in the winter to 122°F over the summer.

 

In Sanskrit, Indri correlates to the five senses:  smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. And, conveniently, we use all five senses when enjoying a pour.

 

The smell and taste are easy. Touch would refer to the mouthfeel and sight to its appearance in the glass. You may wonder, “Okay, Mr. Smartypants, how does sound come into play?” I propose it is three-fold: Listening to the cork pop, hearing the liquid poured into a glass and the great conversations that arise while sharing whisky.

 

Today, I’m sipping on Indri-Trīni, an Indian Single Malt whisky from Picadilly Distilleries. Picadilly runs three distilleries in India’s northern region:  Indri, Patiala, and Bawal. Operating since 2012, Indri is smack dab at the storied Grand Trunk Road, which connected Asia to the Indian subcontinent for more than 2500 years. It boasts six working Indian-designed and constructed copper pot stills and claims to be the largest independent malt manufacturer and purveyor of spirits. It warehouses 40,000 barrels and is already expanding to hold 30,000 more.

 

If you’re curious about what expertise Indri has behind it, you don’t have to look further than Surrinder Kumar, its Master Blender. If his name sounds familiar, he was the Master Blender at Amrut and has been making whisky for 40+ years.

 

Indri-Trīni is notable for more than just who distilled it. It is India’s first single malt that has been produced in three different cooperages: former Bourbon, French wine, and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. But before it gets to rest in wood, the whisky itself is distilled from six-row barley from Rajasthan.

 

Indri-Trīni carries no age statement, which is standard for Indian Single Malts. Whiskies mature faster in the scorching climate than their Scottish or Irish counterparts, often at 3-5 times, giving the angels between 10% and 12% each year. It is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and a 750ml bottle runs about $60.00.

 

Before I #DrinkCurious, I must thank ImpEx Beverage for providing a sample of Indri-Trīni in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to that!

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Indri-Trīni was the color of rich caramel. A medium-thick rim released slow, crooked tears.

 

Nose:  The first smells were of tea and tangerine. I found grilled pineapple and honey as the tea and tangerine fell off. Raisin and prune followed. There was also muted oak. When I drew the air in my mouth, I took in a swallow of vanilla.

 

Palate:  Vanilla cream, toasted almond, and sherried oak rolled across my tongue. Tangerine, grilled pineapple, and apricot took center stage, while the back featured ginger, nutmeg, and black tea. All went down with an airy texture.

 

Finish: The tangerine and pineapple seemed glued on my hard palate and inside my throat. Nutmeg and black tea danced in and out for a long, lingering finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Indri-Trīni lacks any resemblance to Indian Single Malts I’ve tried from Amrut, Paul John, Kamet, or Rampur. I’ve loved Indian Single Malts for the last couple of years, and while decidedly different, this is an attention-grabbing whisky that is also easy on the wallet. If big, fruity notes are your jam, you will swoon over Indri-Trīni, and it snags my 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.

 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


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.

 


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

After Dark Premium Grain Spirit Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


I’ve written about Indian whiskies several times. One of the things I often mention is the lack of much regulation as far as what Indian whisky means. It could be a true single malt, it could be single grain, it could be fermented molasses, or neutral grain spirits (NGS). As far as Indian single malt is concerned, I’m a big fan for the most part.

 

One of the oldest Indian distilleries is Radico Khaitan Limited, founded in 1943 and used to be called Rampur Distillery.  It is also the largest manufacturer of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL). As such, it does its own distilling, blending, and aging in Rampur.

 

While perusing the aisle of a random liquor store, I stumbled across After Dark, labeled as a Premium Grain Spirit Whisky.  I’ve had spirit whiskies before and have been relatively unimpressed. As it turns out, India’s definition of spirit whisky and America’s are not the same. America’s is very specific. India’s is more of a general whisky definition that deals with IMFL.

 

“After Dark is a promising brand in the fast growing premium segment in India. It is a drink to be savoured with friends. The night has different connotations for different people. It unfolds and brings a unique world of desire, adventure and excitement. In fact, it’s where the fun and action begins. After Dark Whisky was rewarded with the Silver Medal at the Monde Selection Quality Award, 2011.” – Radico Khaitan Limited

 

After Dark is one of the few IMFLs that contain no molasses or neutral spirits and is made from 100% grain whiskies. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can procure a 750ml package or $19.99. I found a 50ml taster for about $0.99.

 

So, how does After Dark hold up against the other Indian whiskies I’ve tried? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, After Dark was gold in color. There is no indication this carries any e150a (or other) added colors. It created a thick rim that made even heavier legs that fell back to the pool.

 

Nose:  Clean linen was the first thing I smelled. Probably like you, I’ve never listed that as a note before, but that’s what was there. Muted caramel and floral qualities hid beneath. When I took the air into my mouth, that lighter caramel remained.

 

Palate:  The texture was soft and light-bodied. I tasted leather at the front of my palate, the middle featured honeysuckle, and the back combined clove and black pepper. There wasn’t much there from front to back.

 

Finish:  Very astringent and bitter, I was able to identify clove through it. It was, thankfully, short.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The finish overwhelmed anything that could have been positive in my experience. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a medicinal quality. Chewing on a mouthful of Band-Aids is not something I relish. To be blunt, there wasn’t much to like about After Dark. Could it make a sound mixer? I suppose that depends on how much “and Coke” you want to add to it. After Dark takes a solid Bust 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.

 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Amrut Peated Cask Strength Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Have I been on an Indian single malt whisky kick lately? Yes. For the most part, I’ve been stunned by how well the subcontinent handles single malt whisky, especially in light of almost no regulation.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61°F and 94°F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Indian Peated Single Malt Cask Strength. Unlike many Indian single malts, including those from Amrut, this version is distilled from 100% peated barley sourced from Scotland. Although it carries no age statement, it spent between four and six years in former Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and weighs in at a hefty 62.8% ABV (125.6°). You can expect to pay around $105.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to my tasting notes, I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (Amrut's US importer) for providing me a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Poured neat into my trusty Glencairn glass, this single malt presented as gold bullion. A fragile rim released a colossal curtain that crashed into the pool, leaving tiny, sticky droplets.

 

Nose: As you might guess, the first aroma picked out was peat. It was more sweet than smoky, although the latter was easy to discern. What followed was salted chocolate, brown sugar, apricot, date, orange, and, finally, fresh pastry. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb went off with date as the aftermath.

 

Palate:  An oily, heavy texture greeted my tongue. The front of my palate tasted vanilla, cooked plantains, and date. As it transitioned to the middle, I could imagine biting into brisket straight off the smoker, accompanied by toffee, orange peel, and lemon peel. The back featured salted caramel, clove, and charred oak.

 

Finish: A long-lasting, spicy finish consisting of dry oak, smoke, clove, slightly tempered by salted caramel and cooked plantains. My tongue sizzled for just under five minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several peated Indian single malts and expected more of a peated punch than what I experienced. Oh, it is there, but it steps aside easily enough to make the other flavors shine. I have to admit, this cask-strength version Amrut Peated Single Malt wowed me. Personally, I found this to be a hell of a deal, and it would be a mistake to pass it up. A Bottle rating for sure, 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.

 


Monday, March 21, 2022

Amrut Neidhal (Single Malts of India) Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



Its fans know that Amrut is the pioneer for distilling Indian Single Malt Whisky. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010.

 

Many Amrut fans may not know that Amrut has created an umbrella brand called Single Malts of India. It is a line of whiskies that Amrut produces but doesn’t distill. Instead, Amrut works with small Indian distilleries, then Amrut takes the unaged distillate back to Bengaluru to age in its warehouses. The initial release is called Neidhal.

 

“What we have done this time is dug deep and discovered an uncut gem. We have then procured the gem, carried it to Amrut, caressed it with our touch, and polished it with our expertise. What you discover bottled is truly an amazing whisky showcasing its real potential. Watch out, we as an organization are now sailing into unchartered waters of independent bottling.”Ashok Chokalingam, Head Distiller of Amrut

 

Neidhal is the first independent bottling in India. Neidhal comes from the ancient Tamil texts from the Sangham period (300BC to 300AD). In those texts, the earth was divided into five distinct regions. Neidhal consisted of all oceans and coastal lands. This distillate was sourced from a coastal distillery.

 

Neidhal is a single malt whisky. The mash is 100% Indian six-row malted barley which used peat imported from Scotland.  It carries no age statement, but we know that Bengaluru, where Amrut ages its whisky, has about a 12% annual angel’s share loss, which ages at around 3.5 times that of Scotland. Also, Amrut typically uses a blend of vintage Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak as its cooperage.

 

Worldwide, there are 12,000 bottles of Neidhal, of which only 1200 were allocated to India. It is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and you should be able to acquire a 750ml for $109.99.

 

I want to take a moment and thank Glass Revolution Imports, the US importer, for providing a sample of Neidhal in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how this experiment turned out.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Neidhal presented as bright gold. A minuscule rim formed that gave way to long, wavy legs.

 

Nose: Smoky peat was the first aroma to hit my olfactory sense. It took some work to get past, but notes of seaweed, coconut, pineapple, iodine, and tasted oak eventually passed through. An interesting blend of coconut and brine rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air into my mouth.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was incredibly oily yet somehow light and airy. The front featured fruity notes such as cherry, plum, pineapple, pear, and sea salt. A punch of smoke, followed by coconut and vanilla, formed the middle. The back consisted of oak, white pepper, leather, and tobacco leaf.

 

Finish: Each time I sipped, the length of the finish changed. The first was very short. Subsequent tastes gave incredibly long durations. Yet, others brought it more to medium to medium-long. Regardless of the span, the flavors of smoke, pineapple, pear, salted caramel, and white pepper were consistent.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Neidhal is a complex single malt whisky. If you don’t like peat, don’t bother. But, if you’re like me and enjoy the earthy smoke, you’re in for a treat. The $109.99 cost is a bit high, but I wouldn’t let that preclude me from enjoying a Bottle. Just take your time to savor it. 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.

  





Monday, March 14, 2022

Amrut Bagheera Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

If you read (or watched) The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, you’ll remember the black panther that protected “man-cub” Mowgli. The panther’s name was Bagheera (which, in Hindi, means black panther). Bagheera was wise and well-respected by most of the other jungle animals, and when he found Mowgli in a wrecked canoe, Bagheera dedicated his life to teaching him and protecting him from harm.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded at Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61F and 94F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Bagheera. It is a limited-release offering, taking its flagship Amrut Single Malt and finishing it in former sherry casks. Amrut begins its journey with a mash of six-row barley, 99% of which is unpeated and 1% peated. That’s then aged in both former Bourbon and new, charred American oak barrels for an undisclosed period. While the type of sherry cask is unknown, I’m going out on a limb and believe it was Oloroso, and my tasting notes will explain why. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. You can expect to pay about $89.99 for a 46% ABV (92°) 750ml package.

 

I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (the US importer) for providing me a sample of Bagheera in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it’s time to #DrinkCurious and taste what it is all about.

 

Appearance: Sipped neat from my Glencairn glass, Bagheera presented as deep, burnt umber. A medium rim released sticky droplets.

 

Nose: Bagheera was very fragrant from the moment I opened the bottle. It was as if I had released a djinn from its prison. There was no possible way to miss the sherry influence. Raisin, date, dried cherry, leather, and candied citrus peel wafted from it. Caramel, cocoa, and oak were next, with a touch of brine for good measure. As I pulled the aroma into my mouth, leather and date tangoed across my tongue.

 

Palate:  An oily, medium-weighted texture greeted my tongue. Fruity date, raisin, prune, and apricot created the front, while brown sugar, sweet tobacco, toffee, and almond formed the middle. Chocolate, roasted coffee beans, leather, and dry oak rounded the back of my palate.

 

Finish: Remember that 1% peated barley? I forgot about it until this point. A puff of mild smoke enveloped date, raisin, dried cherry, apricot, and dry oak from beginning to end. There was some pucker power to the dryness as it lingered for a medium-to-long finish.   

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  With single malts, there are sherry bombs and sherry-influenced whiskies. Bagheera falls somewhere in-between. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t a supporting cast member. I found Bagheera to be tasty and decidedly different. Sure, it is non-age stated, but nearly every other Indian single malt is. I’d have no problem paying the $89.99 because the experience was delightful. Bagheera earns every bit of my 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.

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Kamet Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


I have to admit; it has been exciting to see the growth in popularity of Indian single malts. My first experience was about a dozen years ago with Amrut. I’ve been a big fan of Paul John. Rampur has been showing promise.

 

Watch out, folks, because there’s a new player in town, and it is called Kamet. Kamet is a joint venture between Peak Spirits and Picadilly Distillery. If you shrug your shoulders and ask yourself (or me), “What’s the big deal about that?” I have two names to mull around: Surrinder Kumar and Nancy Fraley. Surrinder is considered the father of Indian Single Malts; he was formerly the Master Blender at Amrut. Nancy “The Nose” Fraley is one of the most respected blenders in the United States.

 

“The story begins at the base of Mt. Kamet, the third highest peak in The Himalayas. From here, the Kamet foothills unfold into verdant plains where the fertile soils become a patchwork cut by mountain-fed streams. For thousands of years, the lands beneath Kamet have been a breadbasket for the Indian people providing water and agricultural sustenance. The stories, legends, and fortunes of this region have been passed along and are carried forth today by the sacred Parrot, our brand icon. We are reminded and inspired by the winged messengers of the region to work hard, be loyal to our community, and be thankful for our bounty.” – Kamet

 

Kamet starts with 100% malted six-row barley, the most common kind used with Indian whisky. It utilizes French yeast in the fermentation process and Scottish-style copper pot stills for the distillation process. It aged in former Bourbon barrels, ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry butts, and vintage Bordeaux wine casks. Kamet is the first Indian single malt to utilize the latter cooperage.

 

Kamet carries no age statement, but that’s not uncommon with Indian single malts. They age much faster, often at a rate of three times that of Scotch due to India's hotter, more humid climate. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Proofed to 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to spend about $44.99 for a 750ml package.

 

One of my favorite Madison-area liquor stores brought Kamet to my attention, and I bought a bottle, both to #DrinkCurious and put together a review.  Let’s see if all the background lives up to the only thing that matters: the whisky.

 

Appearance:  I served this neat in my trusty Glencairn glass and allowed it to rest about ten minutes before approaching it. It was one of the most orange-amber ambers I’ve come across. This whisky formed a fragile rim but couldn’t hold onto the fast, fat legs that crashed back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: The first thing I smelled was candied orange peel. It was joined by caramel, toasted oak, raisin, cherry, English toffee, and roasted almond. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, I discovered cherry vanilla.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was medium-weighted and silky. At the front of my palate, I tasted black cherry, plum, raisin, and orange slice candies. The middle featured sweet tobacco, caramel, and vanilla. Then, I tasted dark chocolate, leather, dry oak, and clove on the back.

 

Finish: My tongue tingled slightly from the medium-long, spicy finish. Heavy raisin, dark chocolate, fresh leather, dry oak, and clove remained.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I started by stating how exciting it is to see the explosive growth of Indian single malts. New players will be welcome so long as they provide quality whiskies. I believe Kamet falls in that category. I admit that I was looking forward to a peated whisky, but that wasn’t meant to be, and that’s perfectly fine. Kamet is tasty, well-constructed, and quite affordable, and I failed to find anything to complain about. I’d love to see more from this brand and am happy to confer my coveted 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.