From my experience, Indians love their blended whisky (specifically Johnny Walker). Perhaps it’s a lingering influence from the days of English colonization. But I hazard to guess that, if they elected to try a single malt whisky harvested and distilled in their own country, they may change their allegiance.
Last week I had the good fortune to be introduced to Amrut, a whisky distillery whose variety of single malts are fully developed in India—a kind of locavore movement for the drinking set. I was able to sample two of their whiskies at a tasting event held on a surprisingly balmy night on the roof deck of Washington, D.C.’s Jack Rose, one of the best cocktail-themed restaurants in the nation’s capital.
The unseasonably warm weather made for an apt setting to try Amrut’s Single Malt and Fusion whiskies. The barley is harvested from Punjab, one of India’s main breadbaskets, positioned in the shadows of the Himalayas, and then nurtured in Rajasthan before heading south to the distillery in Bangalore. The native crop infuses a notable sweetness to both whiskies, which are aged in new American oak or year-old bourbon barrels sourced from the United States. The single malt boasts a 46 percent strength, a smooth drink with hints of liquorice and layered oak that won the 2011 Row Whisky Distillery of the Year award from Whisky Magazine U.K. The Fusion, meanwhile, is 50 percent alcohol and delivers a strong dose of smoky peat merged with a touch of fruitiness; the heady potency was awarded the World Whisky of the Year from Malt Advocates in 2011.
The distillery has been in continuous operation since 1948 and is the only on in India to offer single malt whisky... for now.
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