It has been well over a year since I represented Amrut Distilleries in Canada and the US. Time however has not diminished my love of this Distillery and it’s iconic whisky.
Today I want to review a bottle that I have had for a while and an expression that I believe Amrut still releases on occasion.
Portonova Batch Number 1 – Bottled in October of 2011 – Cask Strength of 62.1% (a little cheat here as this is the maximum the Indian Government will allow a whisky to be bottled so it was probably a little higher than this out of the barrel).
Amrut tells us that this whisky was named both for the use of port pipes imported from Portugal and also the town of Portonovo (Parangipettai) on the East coast of India in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu which was under Portuguese control from the 16th to the 18th century.
Spending the first part of it’s life in New American and Ex-Bourbon Oak casks for about 4 years it was then transferred into the Port Pipes for around another year then back into Ex-Bourbon casks for a further 6 months or so. Remembering that Amrut experiences about 12 to 18% Angel’s Share every year, a 6 year old whisky that has been re-racked several times is going to have a very advanced age profile compared to Scotland.
Sign at the entrance of the barrel room at Amrut, Bangalore
I have been hiding this bottle away in my collection for almost 4 years and today is the day to crack it open and hop into this much lauded whisky.
This is a whisky that absolutely makes a mockery of the adage that “older is better”. Should Amrut have the 6 year old age statement on this package? My answer is a resounding “no” for several reasons. Firstly, most consumers will see the 6 and compare it instantly to what they know of age statements and dismiss it as too expensive for a whisky that young so never purchase it. Secondly, it would be unfair for Amrut to be compared in the same aging terms as climates that evaporate whisky at a snail’s pace in comparison.
This whisky as NAS should just be measured by what is in the bottle and oh boy, is there something worthwhile inside.
Colour: Rich Mahogany. This whisky looks like it should be in the mid 20’s minimum with such a deep hue.
Nose: Shut the front door…… and lock the kids out of the house you are going to need some time to sit and think about this dram if you can get a bottle.
This is one absolute explosion of the deepest richest exotic fruits and spices I have ever nosed in a glass and all with the support of a 62.1% that leaves very little if any nose prickle or high alcohol scents. Citrusy Pomelo and ripe tropical banana topped with high cocoa dark chocolate. There is so much there I could just sit and sniff at this for hours and still probably not be able to completely get to the heart of everything that is making this tick. Baked Cherry Clafoutis just like my sister in law likes to make, warm and inviting, topped with rich fresh farm cream. Good lord, this is awesome…
Palate: Madagascar Spice Market, dark black fresh vanilla bean, Chocolate Fondue, caramelized orange zest and sticky date pudding. These are a few of my favorite things……
Finish: On and on and on like riding a hand painted horse on a gaily lit carousel, holding hands with the most beautiful girl in the world. That’s one ride that I never want to finish. Amazingly smooth considering the volume and a drop of water released even more bursts of spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove with a touch of star anise.
Something this good definitely has to be a staple special release on a regular basis. Not sure what batch # they are up to almost 5 years later but I’m sure it’s just as good.
Amrut is just plain awesome for any whisky fan. As an equal opportunity drammer, I find it actually sad when I hear other whisky fans belittle Single Malts that are made and aged outside of the Scottish isles. The very things that make Single Malt Whisky so diverse and incredible are only enhanced by the addition of an array of new and unique variables.
This is what makes whisky so freaking amazing. To stop at just one style or one country is to do it a massive disservice.
Next week will be the last blog before we plunge into 25 days straight with the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2nd Edition.
Are you ready?