A Triple Amrut Taster

Postings have been fewer and farther between of late so to make up here are three new/recent releases from the Wonderful Indian Distillery based in Bangalore . 

Greedy Angels 12yo Chairman’s Reserve

ga_12Continuing on from the 8yo and 10yo we now have a 12yo Greedy Angels , definitely the oldest whisky from Amrut Distillery ! This one is bottled at 60% and limited to around 100 decanters .

This is extremely oily in the glass lots of lingering legs when swirled . The Nose is a fruity little beast , a cocktail of exotic ones , this particular fruit cocktail has a huge dollop of Vanilla custard on top with a finger of shortbread stuck in it for effect ! After a short while there’s a hint of chocolate  and a blast of wood spices , a delightful nose !

The palate again has the fruity blast , like a very thick condensed smoothy , a lovely spiciness along with a hint of the Amrut Liquorice , this is so damn good at 60% i’m very reluctant to put water into it…….. The finish is extremely long , spicy and a touch of wood (nice wood) . 

A wee touch of water actually doesn’t seem to do a lot , only increasing the volume of dram in the glass ! (which was a relief as i’ve seen water completely collapse ‘other’ older whiskies . )

To say this is a stunning dram would be a bit of an understatement , as with all other Amruts a great deal of care and attention has gone into it , it was definitely botlled at the right time !

Amrut Double Cask

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Back at the end of February 2010 a group of Geordie Whisky enthusiasts gathered at The Hilton Hotel in Gateshead for the launch of a brand new Amrut release , Double cask . It’s the only Whisky release i’ve been to…….  Now 6 years on have Amrut released a 2nd edition , the first was two ex-bourbon casks aged 7 and 7 1/2yo , this one is one ex-bourbon 7yo (#3452 filled June 2009) and one PX-sherry 6yo ( #3803  filled May 2010 ) both made with unpeated Indian Malt , it was bottled in August 2016 at 46% .

This one is slightly darker than the 1st edition ! The PX cask definitely makes a difference….. Again very oily in the glass , the sherry is the first thing that catches the nose , lots of dark fruits and especially cherries , there is nothing subtle about this sherry nose !

The sherry is a tad more relaxed on the palate but is still the most prominent , again dark fruits with lots of cherries , eventually the Amrut traits do sneak past the sherry but the PX does dominate . The finish is very smooth , dry and very long and sherried with a touch of vanilla , spice and  liquorice .

Amrut sherry cask fans are going to love this (the intermediate Sherry Brigade) , i will say it’s dangerously smooth and quaffable , an ideal Christmas dram and very warming on a cold Autumn night .

Amrut Rye

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Yes , Amrut Rye ! 100% pure Malted Rye , it says ‘Single Malt Whisky’ on the label and it is !  Made from European Rye and matured in New American Oak casks . I have to admit to having tried this before , in 2015 while we were visiting the Distillery , Ashok and Surrinder gave us a wee dram of this , not telling us what it was , we were gobsmacked by it ! So what is it like 14 months on ?

Bottled at 50% , the Nose is….. Rye , lovely warm Rye bread , surprisingly there is quite a bit of tropical fruit in it ( usually found in some of the more elderly Amruts i’ve found) , there is a touch of butterscotch after a while .

The palate is WOW !

The Rye explodes on it , there’s no other way to say it but it’s Rye , there is a slight hint of the tropical fruit on the palate but it’s super smooth rye 99% of the way . The finish is long, smooth Rye ( surprise surprise ) and spices , wonderful !

What can i say ? It’s not like Canadian Rye ( i love the stuff ) , it’s closer to Zuidam’s Millstone 100 Single Rye…… only better . It’s so easy drinking and very tasty .

 

Once again Amrut have come up with the goods , Surrinder you are some Man !

Thanks to Ashok for the samples .

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Summer Visit 2015

Normally i would post reports of our Holiday visit here but seeing this years involved a Certain Distillery in India you can find the reports over on my other blog…….

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Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Normal Service from Islay will resume next year , we may have calmed down by then from this superb adventure…….

India , Land of the Amrut…. and beep-beep!

Chapter One .   A Passage to India……

This year we’ve been doing a bit of travelling and not to islay for once ! Earlier in 2015 we headed west to Toronto again and at the end of the Summer we travelled just as far east to India . This time we could fly from our local airport rather than have to travel elsewhere .

Saturday 29th August

So we headed off to Newcastle International Airport to take the early afternoon flight to Dubai , as most people know i’m not the greatest admirers of Airports (give me Kennacraig Ferry Terminal anytime!) but at least Newcastles staff are a bit friendlier that the other UK Airport we’ve used…..

Our flight was at 1.45pm so having arrived early we settled in at the bar for a pre-flight drink and got to see our Emirates plane arrive……

(Click on the photos to see full size version)

It was going to be a long day(or two) , it was a 7 hour flight with a 3 hour time difference , i got to watch the Toon playing on the on board entertainment and watched a couple of movies , Melanie was engrossed in her Kindle . We have to say Emirates is a great airline to fly with , the staff are fantastic and the food was superb , the main meal consisted of a starter of Smoked Salmon with Pesto Potato salad , the main meal was Roast Chicken with Creamy Mash , roasted Veg with a Cranberry gravy and finished with Chocolate Pudding with a caramel sauce , rather yummy!  We arrived at Midnight to temperatures of 38 degrees C , it was like stepping off into a sauna !

Sunday 30th August

Now it was a 3 and a half hour wait for the connecting flight to Bengaluru (Bangalore ) , again not the best place to hang around for me , too busy , unless you want to shop not a lot else to do . So at 3.30am we left Dubai , it was a 4 hour flight and another 1 and a half hour time difference . We set down at Bengaluru Airport just after 9am , first thing i noticed out of the window was rows of Coconut Palm trees lining the airport perimeter , very exotic , funny what you first pick up on….. To get into India from the UK you have to go through quite a lengthy process of getting a visa , it was actually easier to get my passport ! The Bureaucracy didn’t stop there , we had 2 more forms to fill in at the airport oh and a photograph taken , eventually we got through security and exited the Airport to a first for us , someone standing at the Entrance with a sign saying “Amrut Distilleries Welcomes Gordon and Melanie Homer” , wish i’d had my Camera out , a great welcome ! Pramod (who works with Ashok and we’d met in Paris last year) was standing beside the driver , Pramod was going to be our guide over the stay . The road leading away from the Airport is beautifully landscaped , even though it was Sunday morning the roads were very busy and we got our first glimpse of Bengaluru driving , it’s very hard to describe , stock car racing without the dunching (look up dunch….) , not so much as who has right of way but ‘Who dares Wins!’ It was a very colourful drive to our hotel in the centre of the city !

Interesting Fact No.1 -The Hotel we stopped in is built on the site of the original Amrut Distillery , the land is still owned by the family , the office block is called the ‘JNR City Centre’ ( JNR – J.N. Radhakrishna , founder of the distillery) and will shortly house – (or if you’re reading this in the future) now houses – the head office of the distillery .

After getting dropped off we grabbed a bit of a nap, freshened up and went downstairs to the bar to wait for Ashok to pick us up , enjoying our first Amrut in it’s home town while watching Black Kites (the feathered variety) flying over nearby housing . Fusion !

Ashok took us to his new abode to meet up with Viji and their kids Asitha and Jeeva , after a coffee and a catch up we headed back into the centre of town for a meal ,  he took us to the Vivanta by Taj Hotel on the MG Road , where we dined poolside……

I have to say it was a wonderful experience , a lovely setting with good friends and wonderful food……..

Starters

Mixed Tandoori

Lentil Dal

Mint Chutney

Kulcha

Mains

Lamb Bhuna

Chicken Andhra

Travancore Fish Curry

Paratha Bread

My mouth is starting to water thinking about it again…….  what a great way to start a holiday off !

The Chokalingams dropped us back off at the hotel and we went to bed knowing the next day we were going to sample the nectar at it’s home .

Monday 31st August

So after a bit of a lie in and Breakfast , Ashok along with Prakash (our driver through this adventure) picked us up to take us to the Distillery , i’ve done a few tours in my time but i knew this was going to be something special . We didn’t actually go straight to the Distillery , Ashok was going to take us to somewhere special first , somewhere not a lot of people get to see . The Journey out was once again busy and very colourful , there were an amazing amount of temples along the roadside , none of them dull !

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  After turning off the main Bengaluru – Mysore Road we headed along a small road littered with fruit and veg stalls , eventually we stopped at a farm which turned out to be owned by Amrut , it had a wonderful view …….

There were quite a few people employed on the farm , they had their own cattle and grew there own veg

There were Fig Trees and Coconut Palms growing , the Coconut Palms all had a number on them , so they knew if one went ‘missing’…….

They had there own temple

And we were shown the ‘Alternative Boardroom’ by Ashok , apparently they retreat here sometimes to get away from the hussle of the distillery and enjoy a nice cup of fresh Coconut Water , which we did , and boy it doesn’t half quench your thirst !

Of course the true purpose of the farm was revealed , it is the source of the water for the production of Amrut Single Malts ! It is extracted from a 300ft deep bore hole and then tankered to the distillery….. 

After a lovely time exploring the farm , we headed to the distillery stopping at one of the roadside fruit stalls for Ashok to give us a try of the local produce , including Jackfruit , Bananas and Custard Apples . The Bananas were smaller and sweeter – and i have to say better –  than the normal ones we were used to but the real surprise were the custard apples , they actually tasted like custard . 

The Distillery…….

It may not look as pretty as some of the Scottish variety but they aren’t surrounded by Coconut palms !  On arrival we were greeted by a familiar face , the Master Distiller and Vice President (Production) of Amrut , Surrinder Kumar , we met Surrinder at Ashoks house in Newcastle a couple of years ago and spent a pleasant evening in his company . Surrinder was going to guide us around his ‘baby’ , after all he was involved with the building of the current plant in the 1980’s and has been overseeing production ever since . I’ve met some passionate people in the industry about their job and product but Surrinder tops the lot ! After a coffee to catch up we set off around the distillery…….

They’ve only had to contact the manufacturer of the mill once in nearly 30 years ! The Mash Tun has a capacity of 1 tonne.

they have 6 wash backs each with a capacity of 10,000 litres , the wash backs are water cooled to keep the fermentation temperature down .

They have 3 stills , 1 wash and 2 spirit , each has a charge of 5,000 litres .

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(Left Picture above) Front right is the wash still , centre is the original spirit and the newest Spirit is at the rear.

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They don’t use both of the Spirit stills together .

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As well as Whisky production they are do Brandy here , using the original tiled containers and it’s own Column still .

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Straight from the Stillroom we went into Maturation Warehouse 1 , Amrut have 8 warehouses around the distillery , in each warehouse they have a board stating the temperature and humidity , it was cooler in the warehouses than outside , a balmy 26 degrees C ! The humidity seemed to average about 56%…….

In Warehouse 1 we were shown Cask No.1 , Amrut only put numbers on the casks and not the year like the Scottish Distillers , they do know when each cask was filled ! If you look hard you can also see other indicators on the cask, a ‘ I ‘ indicates how many times it has been filled (one ‘ I ‘ = First filling , etc etc) and a ‘P’ indicates Peated Spirit . There is also a permanent reminder of when the first cask was put in to the warehouse .

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There was also a strange cask in this warehouse , the pupose of this was to prove how much they lost through evaporation…….

While moving between warehouses we were shown the 3 bottling plants  , the first one contained the single malt line , all the work is done by hand and the people who work on this line don’t work on any other , The filling in the bottles are hand measured , an on off switch rather than an automatic measure . Anyone wearing a green outfit in the photos is a permanent member of staff .

 

At this point we took a break to have a spot of lunch in the offices . I have to say i could get used to their lunches  ! We then returned to the warehouses to sample a selection of Amruts finest !

For some reason i didn’t take notes of the first cask (probably the excitement !) , No.3742 , 1st fill Bourbon aged 4 Years 4 months .

The 2nd was Cask 3775 , another 4 year old 1st fill Bourbon  , this was very creamy with Millionaires Shortbread and vanilla , water brought out more creaminess and marzipan .

For the 3rd cask we moved into Peated territory , 3527 was a 3rd fill Barrel , 4 and a half year old , not an overwhelming peatiness on the nose but the usual Millionaires shortbread . there was more peat on the palate along with the shortbread .

We moved on to the Port casks next  , Port Pipe No.3877 , the spirit was 4yo but it had only been in the pipe for 1.5 years having previously been in a bourbon barrel , on the nose it was fruity and spicy , the palate was very fruity with the Amrut Liquorice , with water there were more spices ,  chocolate and shortbread .

Finally we hit the sherry ! Cask 3892 , Oloroso First Fill , The spirit again was 4yo but had only been in the Oloroso cask a year and a half , What can you say , Christmas Cake ! The Full Cake….. once again Liquorice and spices . What can you say about the one’s we sampled ? Sheer quality spirit ! Surrinder is doing a cracking Job !

We once more headed back to the offices to partake of a few more samples which i can’t talk about…….. 

Before we left Surrinder gave us a momento of our visit…. 

What a fantastic day ! Surrinder and Ashok made it very special , Thanks Guys !!!

We headed off with Ashok for a meal picking up Pramod on the way , he took us to a place at the South west side of Bengaluru on the Hosur Sarjapur Road Layout called Kanua , an absolutely stunning place

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The food Ashok ordered was so good i only wrote down one….. Chicken Ghee Roast but his selection certainly went down well with us . Melanie also got to try her first Indian Wine , a Sula Sauvignon Blanc , it was rather nice ! Loads of lovely Grapefruit and not like any other Sauvignon Blanc i’ve ever tried . It was a great way to end a rather special day , Ashok returned us to our hotel and we headed off to bed to dream of Future Amruts…….

To be Continued…….

Amrut Naarangi

This is the latest Amrut release , Naarangi is Hindi for Orange , the distillery went to some lengths to produce this expression…..

They took some Oloroso sherry and put it in barrels along with Peel from Oranges from Madikeri located in the picturesque Western Ghats of India , they left this for 3 years to mature in the warehouses in Bangalore . The Sherry/Peel were then discarded and the barrels filled with 3yo Amrut Single Malt Whisky and left for a further 3 years for the spirit to absorb the Orange characteristics . Giving us the Naarangi !

Amrut_naarangi

 

Bottled at 50% , it has a beautiful Orange Marmalade going on light Amber colour , The Orange plays a big part in the initial nose , then more fruit appears – pineapple , banana and melon . There is very little of the Amrut ‘liquorice’ but there is the usual chocolate and shortbread . After a while the nose develops into an amazing Orange Millionaires Shortbread , Amazing ! The palate carries on the fruitiness , particularly the orange , but there is more of the traditional Amruts flavours here , notably the liquorice . There is a lovely spiciness to the palate , the finish is long smooth and spicy .

Probably the most relaxed Amrut ever , a pretty amazing dram keeping up the excellent reputation of this distilleries outturn !

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Travelling Man (and Woman)…….

Yup , like the First Swallow of Summer , the first whisky festival has passed , once again we were there again behind the table representing our Good Friend Ashok and Amrut Distilleries ( a report can be read HERE ) . Our next one is another trip across the Pond to Canada to once again visit Johanna and Charles excellent Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala , this was just going to be a leisurely one this time but Johanna asked us if we would be interested in doing another Masterclass (evidently we must have done a decent job of it last time…..) and we couldn’t say no to such a Lovely Lady !

The other night Johanna let the cat out of the basket and announced on Twitter that we were doing another……

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So it’s a Caol Ila one and as Johanna says Some Special Treats in store !

Keep an eye on http://spiritoftoronto.ca/ for Ticket details , sure it’s the 23rd of March when they go on sale .

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We’ve also got a few more Amrut events coming up over the next 7 months including a long awaited visit to the Distillery……

Details of the Amrut events are on the Amrut Blog 

That was the year that was…..

Well it’s that time of the year again , the time to look back at the past 12 months .

The Scotch Whisky hype has reached new levels this year and i seemed to have taken a step back from it . Surprisingly from the 3 Ardbeg releases this year i only bought one , the Feis Ile one (Auriverdes) , this years Committee release is the 1st one i’ve passed on since joining in 1999 , i thought £125 was way too much for a NAS release regardless of how peated it was , at least it gave another bottle for someone to throw into an auction…..

After trying the 3rd one , The “New” Kildalton , again i thought the price was too much for the whisky . The only other Islay bottles from this year i bought were mainly Feis ile releases (The Lagavulin , the Caol Ila and the Cairdeas from Laphroaig ) , i did stock up on the recent Laphroaig 10yo CS batch (excellent as ever) and their 18yo . We’ve only been to islay once this year (so far….) which is surprising for us but there is a damn good reason……

It’s been a bit of different year this year , our good friend Ashok asked us if we’d be interested in doing some stuff for him as he was returning to India to work from the distillery . We ended up doing 4 of the Whisky Lounges festivals around the country starting in our home City back in March , we had great fun at everyone , discussing a whisky we totally believe in with people who were genuinely interested in it , it actually bucked my interest up in whisky going after it was starting to wane with the previously mentioned over-hyping of Scotch .

nwf2014_2Our public debut “Behind the table”

For the first 3 months of 2014 we kept a secret from the Whisky World , in March we revealed that in May we would be heading over to Toronto to be Special Guests at the 10th Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala ! It was a very big deal for me on several fronts , I’d never been out of the UK before , i’ve never had a Passport before , i’d never flown before and i’d never presented a Masterclass to strangers before !

You can read  all about our adventures at these two postings……

Islay Visits….. Goes West to Toronto Pt.1

Islay Visits….. Goes West to Toronto Pt.2

Friends of Amrut !

To say this was the highlight of the year for us is a bit of an understatement ! We had a great time in Toronto , The City and people were amazing , it was great to finally meet Wendy in person  , we discovered Canadas fine Whisky and Wine and we got to fly over Niagara Falls in a Helicopter ! We cannot thank Johanna and Charles enough for inviting us over and broadening my horizons (Yes Johanna you’ve created a monster ! LOL !!!) and we’ve already booked up to return Next May to have a great time in the City and see the Festival properly from the other side of the table (starting to get confusing over which side of the table i should  be on……) , Mmmmm……. Canadian Whisky!

Ready for Boarding

 

In the Summer we manage to squeeze in a fortnight on Islay , staying in a new place for us on The Rhinns at Lyrabus Croft Cottage . An excellent place to base yourself for a long stay on Islay .

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In September We stretched our wings once again and flew over to Paris for the weekend (Johannas fault….. 😉  ) taking in the Whisky Live that was going on at the time . It was great to have a look around the beautiful City but i have to say i was well disappointed in the Whisky Live , too big and too much security for my liking .

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Discovering New Zealand with Erik (Burgess) at Paris 

We couldn’t believe how hot it was over that weekend and spent a great Sunday wandering and enjoying the city .

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We haven’t done much since , a few more whisky festivals and i’ve been broadening my knowledge of Canadian Whisky…….

Recommendations

So what would we recommend this year ? Here’s a sort of Mini awards for 2014…..

Best Islay Malt –  I have to say of the limited selection i’ve tried this year it’s one from last year that most impressed me , The 25yo Laphroaig 2013 Edition .
Best Non Islay Scottish Malt – Only one winner here , The 50yo Glenlivet that Ian Logan kindly let up sample , absolutely stunning for it’s age ! Cheers Ian !! 
Best other Whisky – Well there are so many Canadians that i’ve tried during and since our visit that could have taken this title , Gibson’s 18 , Forty Creek Barrel Select , Century Reserve 15/25, Pike Creek to name a few but there is one rye that has taken my heart , Pendleton 1910 12yo ! I would add that Eriks New Zealand Whisky and Zuidam Dutch Rye are highly Commended .
Best Meal on Islay – It was between two places The Old Kiln and The Bridgend Hotel , eventually decided on The Bridgend as we had two absolutely stunning meals there , one was our 20th Wedding Anniversary one . 
Best Coffee on Islay – Has to be Roys ! A cracking cup of Coffee and stunning home baking ! oh them cakes….. 
Best Festival –  Yes it’s the Spirit of Toronto ! Although we didn’t get a good chance to sample the wares this year (we will next year!), it is a fantastic event , very classy , a great venue and superbly organised ! Looking forward to our return . 

I hope all our visitors have had as good as year as Melanie and Myself have had ! All that’s left is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year .

We’re already looking forward to 2015 !

Islay Visits Part XXXVII – Figures !

Wednesday 30th July 2014 

It’s funny how figures (i.e. of the number variety) play an important part in your life and when you start thinking of them all sorts of things pop into your head . For instance when i opened the two Ardbeg 1978’s i thought back to 1978 , the year the two of us left School , 36 years ago this very summer ! It’s also 36 years ago that we both started work in the very same summer…..

Talking of summers it was 30 years ago this summer i had my very first holiday in Scotland , camping with my old mate Dave Embleton who also introduced me to the delights of Single Malts on that trip (my first Malt was a 10yo Macallan) . Wow 30 years of drinking Single Malt Scotch Whisky and according to some i still don’t have a clue about it……

This year has been very special so far ,this year we done our first Whisky Festival on the ‘other’ side of the table , serving up Amrut to the good people of Newcastle standing in for Mr Amrut himself Ashok. We must have done something right as he’s asked us to do another 3 ! We took our first trip together outside of the UK (my first flight ) to Toronto , where we done our first Whisky Masterclass on the ‘other’ side of the table at the Spirit of Toronto Whisky Gala, This one mustn’t have went so well as no one’s asked us to do another one…… LOL!!!! (only kidding Johanna , Melanie keeps telling me how good i was !) 

  Todays date is the most important figure , the 30th of July , it was on this day i got married to the most important Woman in my life , Melanie , Twenty years ago ! Where has the time gone ? For 15 of those twenty years we have been coming to this beautiful isle , this is our 37th visit (hence the part XXXVII of the title for those of you of a slow disposition…..) , 10 years ago we spent our 10th anniversary on the Isle ( at the Old School , Ardbeg ) , Ardbeg even had a special bottle on sale on that visit , the 1990 for Japan at £60 (not for our 10th anniversary i hasten to add…..)  .

So what are we doing today ? We’ll probably making a lot of people sick with our lovey dovey ness LOL ! We’ll definitely be going out for a meal at our favourite eatery tonight and i dare say a fair bit of Alcohol will be consumed along the way……

To My Gorgeous Wife , Happy Twentieth Wedding Anniversary Darling !

There are many more to come !!!!