Amrut Kadhambam (50%, OB, Batch No. 6, Bourbon matured, Rum, Sherry & Brandy Finish, 2017)

If you read my reviews back about Indian Malts, you know they are quite to my liking. However, the last review I did was way back in 2019, remember those pre-Corona days? How different life was back then? So it is about time to review a few more. Today I’m having a look at another Amrut. This time Kadhambam, which is the Tamil word for mixture. Well, what they have concocted here is a mixture of different finishes. The Amrut standard Single Malt (Bourbon matured) has been further matured in casks that previously held Rum, Sherry and Brandy. Those casks are then married together to form this Single Malt.

Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Malty, somewhat less Indian spices than expected but there is still a lot here, in part masked by a lot of other aroma’s. Dusty and sweet. Toffee with nice organics. Fruity, jam-like sweetness and almonds. Vanilla and powdered orange candy. The base Bourbon matured Malt is easily discernable, so the finishes didn’t overpower the Malt. It is also definitely noticeable, that a lot of different casks were used. The Brandy bit is recognizable from my earlier experiences with Port Charlotte CC:01 which was Cognac cask matured. When I smell this with a low flow rate, let’s say 5 seconds worth of snorting (which is quite long, just try if for yourself), lots aroma’s pass by. It is soft and spicy at the same time, very fruity and appetizing. Quite late in the mix the woody bits come forward. Licorice, pencil shavings and the familiar toasted oak. Cold sweet black tea, more licorice and a slight hint of tar. This might seem like a Whisky where just a lot was thrown together, yet still it manages to reach such a high level of balance. Amazing. This turned out very nicely.

The aroma’s of this Malt are transported well. 50% ABV is a very good strength for this. 40% ABV is rather weak for a Modern Malt and 60% ABV can be quite overpowering for some. Old Malts were made differently from different barley varieties, maybe different yeast strains and the cask may have been different. Old Malt’s could be easily diluted to 40% ABV. Just look at G&M’s Longmorn from 1971. Not everything was working At 40% ABV, but a lot did, and today that percentage would be lower. I don’t think Douglas Laing bottled their Old Malt Cask Whiskies at 50% ABV by accident, although I do suspect some economics were applied as well. If you reduce Whisky (a bit), you end up with more bottles to sell. But hey, Whisky is also a business, even though for some of us it feels like a charity. So nothing wrong with the business of it all. Luckily for us aficionado’s, Douglas Laing stopped diluting at 50% ABV. A heartfelt thanks for that!

Taste: Starts sweet and fruity, but thinking back to Port Charlotte CC:01, I don’t really remember that cask giving off this kind of sweetness. Toffee, runny warm caramel, fruit syrup and jam. The perfect sweetness takes a while to move over. Indian spices, almonds and licorice, toasted oak, sweet ripe red fruits and green banana. Let it breathe, it may be a bit closed at first (especially when you’re dealing with a freshly opened bottle). Wood in the back, as well as some cold ashes from the fireplace. There is a lot happening in this Malt, so all this stuff needs a while to break free. Very well balanced with a fruity and nutty aftertaste. Tasty! The longer this stands the nuttier the taste becomes. Amazing balance. Another cracker!

The price is gradually rising over the past few years, but at today’s price-point it is still very recommended. I guess the score reflects that.

Points: 88

Amrut Portonova (62.1%, OB, Batch 5, 2014)

Ahhh, another Amrut. Nice. I had the pleasure to try some Amruts in the past and was very nicely surprised by the Intermediate Sherry (which I then bought) a Single PX Sherry Cask #2699 (which I then bought) and the Kadhambam (which I have yet to buy). I also tried the “plain” cask strength version, and although pretty nice, I preferred the former ones. Now this Portonova crosses my path. This time a Port finished Amrut, and yes, I have high hopes for this one too…

Amrut Portonova Batch 5Color: Light orange gold. No typical Port pinkishness.

Nose: Although this has a huge ABV, this doesn’t leap out of the glass. Give it some time and some dust and cinnamon emerges. Wow. Cookie spices, dried plums and raisins. Exotic and Christmas in a bottle. Fresh air after rain. Creamy and soft oak. Hot metal. Barley, but different from barley you get from (young) Scottish Whisky. Sweet milk chocolate and red fruit juice. Apart from this all, it has a sweet and deep feel. Exotic spices, curry, cardamom, but where is the Port? I already missed the pink hue, but I also miss its smell. Complex stuff this because there is even a lot more happening in the nose than what I noted here.

Taste: Condensed red fruits. Thick, but initially simpler than the complex nose promised. Obviously quite hot with this high ABV. The wood tastes more like paper and cardboard, than any kind of wood. Not a lot of the wealth of spices shine through on the palate, and that’s a shame. Its more a fruity Whisky with maybe some faint hints of Port. Vanilla comes next. With time if becomes more outspoken and creamy. Nice evolution though. Hints of banana in the aftertaste. Lovely.

First I have to air a disappointment. This would be a stellar malt if the spices from the nose were noticeable so more in the taste as well, without being overpowering of course. Missing the spices on the palate makes the taste of this Whisky a bit simpler than it could have been. Now that we have that out-of-the-way. The whole is still an utterly good Whisky. Very much recommended. An excellent winter warmer I would say. I will have to get me one of these soon.

Points: 88

Amrut Intermediate Sherry (57.1%, OB)

Amrut (अमृत) means something in between elixir of life and nectar of the gods. Amrut Single Malt Whisky is made by Amrut Distilleries which was founded in 1948, but just as with Paul John, it took them some time (untill 2004) to release their first Single Malt Whisky, with that, they were the first indian distillery to do so. In 2004 Amrut released its first Single Malt Whisky in Glasgow Scotland, (in the lion’s den you might say). Today and that isn’t even a decade later, Amrut already released a lot of different Single Malt Whiskies. Peated and non-peated, matured in Bourbon, Sherry, Brandy, Cognac, Port and all sorts of different casks. Amrut have even released in one bottle, Whisky matured in India and in Europe, or using malts from different continents. Lots of thinking out-of-the-box.

Amrut Intermediate SherryColor: Full ocher gold.

Nose: Sweet, buttery and creamy at first. Hints of malt and yoghurt. Even smaller hints of licorice and tar. Big bold fruity Whisky. Extremely likeable nose. I’m guessing this particular Sherry cask did some good work. But there is more, it also has a flowery element mixed in with the vanilla. Quite sweet and has a little smoky bite. Nice and complex, well balanced nose. Sometimes vegetal and smells of a little piece of lit cedar (to light a cigar with). Pencil shavings. The floral part gives of whiffs of floral soap, which adds to the complexity without making the Whisky soapy. The nose gives away the Indian origin.

Taste: Sweet, sherried, fruity and has a bite given by the high ABV, but I still won’t water this down, far too nice already. Fruity and cookie dough. The sweetness dissipates and gets more drying towards the oak. Sherried and toffee. Cask toast. Good long fruity finish, with a slight hint of bitter wood, which fits perfectly to the initial sweetness this Whisky has. A little bit less balanced, so it could have been even better than it already is!

Again a perfect example of the level the Indians got to. The Paul John Edited is already a great Whisky, and shows how a relative newcomer can make good Whisky. So I’m guessing the still is a lot of room for improvement there. Amrut is at it for a longer time, but as a Single Malt Whisky producer not even 10 years. Amrut are showing with this Sherried Intermediate that they already are giving a lot of Scottish Whiskies a run for their money. I consider this one is a must buy, I already secured myself a bottle. Great Whisky. I’m expecting great things from this distillery (as well as from John Paul). Way to go India!

Points: 87

Thanks Ashok Chokalingham for the sample, unfortunately I only had one sample bottle with me…