Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky
Amrut Distilleries Pvt. Ltd.
Kambipura, Bengaluru-560074 India
MSRP: sells for $55-$65
Please enjoy our Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky Review!
“Made from select Indian barley, nurtured by water flowing from the Himalayas”
Amrut Began Distilling Malt In The 1980’s
According to the timeline on the Amrut Website, Amrut Distillery was founded in 1948 and began distilling malt to produce whiskies in the 1980s. In 2004, Amrut launched their Single Malt Whisky, the first Indian Single Malt in fact, in Glasgow, Scotland. Let’s take a look at what happened during that time, and why.
India’s definition of whisky differs from the rest of the world, in that it does not seem to have a clear definition of whisky. This had caused India great problems in exporting its “whiskies”. That is, until Amrut came along and produced a true Single Malt, based on the standards utilized in Scotland.
Whiskey Is Made Entirely From Grain…Except in India
In the world outside of India, whiskies (or whiskeys) have to be made entirely from grain. In India, many distilleries make whisky from distilled sugar cane products or byproducts, mainly molasses, blended with a variety of other spirits. These other spirits are generally used in only small percentages, and are often made from cereal grains, including imported blended Scotch. That would be unheard of anywhere else in the world where whiskey has strict definitions. It turns out that Amrut produced the molasses based blended whiskies during that 20 or so year period between the 1980’s and the introduction of their first single malt.
In 2004 Came A Major Turning Point for Amrut Distillery
A turning point came in 2004. In fact, it was a huge turning point for Amrut, and Indian Whiskey in general, when they released their first Single Malt Whisky. For one thing, that would begin to change the world’s perception of Indian whiskey, and demonstrate what potential it had. Probably most importantly, though, by now adhering to the world’s definition of whiskey, they could sell their Single Malt and label it whiskey in Scotland, and eventually, worldwide. Interestingly, Amrut did not launch their Single Malt Whisky in India until a few years later (2010). That was due to the preferred whisky in India still being the traditional distilled molasses based blends.
Some countries also have restrictions on just how young whisky can be. For example, the minimum maturity for Scotch is at least 3 years. Whereas, many Indian Whiskies are fairly young, as reportedly whiskies mature more rapidly in India’s climate. Amrut’s Single Malt Whiskey meets the Scottish age requirements, with the American Indian Single Malt Whisky rumored to be aged around four years.
Indian Distillers Use Primarily Malted Six-Row Barley for Indian Whisky
One last difference between Indian Whisky and the rest of the world is that Indian Distilleries use six-row barley for most of their whiskies. Distilleries elsewhere generally use the two row variety. The use of six-row barley is purely utilitarian; it is the type of barley primarily grown in India. However, six-row barley has some different characteristics than two-row barley. For example, there is less starch and more husk, and hence a lower yield in six-row barley, but there is more protein which has some effects on the flavor characteristics. There are also more enzymes (enzymes are proteins, too) to aid in starch conversion.
Molasses Based Whisky Is Still Going Strong In India
Single Malt Whisky and blends which contain all grain whiskies are becoming increasingly prevalent in India. However, it seems that the distilled molasses based products are still going strong. In the hours I have spent researching this topic, I have learned that transparency has not yet made its way to India; at least not in the distilling industry. Therefore, it is very difficult to find a distillery listing molasses as an ingredient in their whiskies.
So I have to infer it from what they do not mention. For example, take Officer’s Choice Whiskey, the third best selling whisky brand in the world with 20.8 million cases sold in 2020. The description of their flagship red label states that it is a “…finely balanced malt blend”. Reading between the lines suggest that this carefully worded statement likely means “spirit distilled from molasses blended with grain whiskies”. That is what the outside information suggests.
Likewise, take the world’s number 1 selling whisky, McDowell’s No1 (25.7 million cases in 2020). It also likely has a distilled molasses spirit as its base. This Diageo owned brand’s India website states that it is “Made by blending whisky and select Indian malts..”. There’s not much reading between the lines necessary here. The generic term “whisky” in India has essentially no constraints. “Whisky” can be a distilled molasses based spirit, with added coloring and flavorings allowed. The same likely goes for Pernod Ricard’s Imperial Blue, the world’s second best selling whisky in 2020 with 21.3 million cases.
Five Standard Versions of Amrut Single Malt
There are 5 current standard versions of Amrut Single Malt Whisky: Amrut Indian and Cask Strength; Amrut Peated Indian and Cask Strength; and Amrut Fusion. In addition, Amrut also has a number of limited releases.
Tasting Notes – Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky
Let’s taste it:
🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in an Aged & Ore Neat Glass
👉Nose: Apple, pear, honey; light oak, smoke and char; moderate alcohol, more than expected for 92 proof
👉Taste: Quite sweet; heavy simple syrup, sweet pears, sweet caramel; char; fuller body than expected
👉Finish: Sweetness and fruit linger; char and smoke last even longer; mild white pepper spice; fairly long finish with lingering smoke
There’s A Smokiness To This Whisky
There’s a smokiness to this whiskey which I am assuming is coming from the barrel. I had read somewhere (not sure if it is accurate, but it would make sense) that Amrut uses both new and used charred oak barrels for this Single Malt Whisky. Since there is a peated version of Amrut Single Malt, and this is not it, I have to assume that Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky is unpeated. Amrut provides only limited information on their website, making it difficult to confirm the facts.
Overall this is an enjoyable whiskey, reminiscent of a fruity, fairly sweet but somewhat smoky, yet unpeated, Scotch. The body is somewhat greater than expected for the proof, but this may have something to do with the effects of the Indian climate on whisky maturation. Have you had any of Amrut’s Single Malts? What did you think? Cheers!🥃
We hope you have enjoyed our Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky Review! If you would like to learn more about where Indian Whiskies rank in world consumption, check out our article: Best Selling Bourbon In The World.
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