August 15, 2011
Whisky is primarily made in Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Japan, and Canada. However, much like the fine wine industry, enterprising distillers are cropping up in all corners of the globe with new artisan whisky products. Some, like the Whisky in a Can from a company in the Caribbean, don’t exactly qualify as ‘fine’. It should be noted, also, that whisky made in hot, humid climates tends to mature very fast, and age statements should be considered accordingly. A 4 year-old bourbon from Kentucky, and a 4 year-old single malt from India might be equivalent in maturity to a 12 year-old Scotch or Irish whiskey. This is not to say that they are necessarily of equivalent quality: many aficionados contend that slow maturation results in a smoother, more nuanced, and higher-quality spirit.
I recently sampled my first-ever single malt from the country of India. Amrut Distillers in Bangalore, India, a veteran producer of various spirits and liquors, has become something of a buzzword lately in the whisky world by releasing a series of single malts, distilled and aged in India. See the Distillery box below for details. I sampled the entry-level “Amrut Single Malt”, a no-age-statement unpeated single malt. It’s probably only several years old.
Nose: Big grain – cereals of several types. A fading hint of ex-bourbon casks: vanilla and woodiness. Quite a lot of nose prickle. Once it settles in the glass, there is a huge helping of banana trifle. Then there is more banana, banana, and banana. Seriously, it’s all banana. A dash of water brings out some interesting dessert flavors – cinnamon baked apple crumble and cinnamon raisin toast.
Palate: After a hefty bit of burn, there is a nice blend of tropical fruits – kiwi and green banana, grilled peaches, and barrel char.
Finish: Medium, and a little bitter. Of course, there’s banana, and the bitterness seems to come from the oak and barrel char.
Overall: Betrays its age with the burn, and its inexperience with the heavy banana notes. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive dram for an upstart distillery in a challenging climate. I wouldn’t pay more than $30 for it, though, as I’m not partial to banana flavors in my malts. Adding a bit of water doesn’t hurt.