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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

January 20, 2020


Around the world yet again (well, we’ll try)

Unless we get stuck somewhere, that is. That there’s more world whisky around is an understatement. Sure many are a little uninteresting (finishing in local wine? Why not, but…) while others are simply weak, sometimes thanks to unsuitable stills, but some have really managed to conquer the world of the whisky lovers.  Amongst then, a handful of Indian distilleries, the number one being Amrut in Bangalore. Great work over the years, Amrut!

Amrut ‘Amaze II’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 120 bottles, 2018)

Amrut ‘Amaze II’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 240 bottles, 2019) Five stars
There was an earlier Amaze for S.M.A.C. in 2018, which had been excellent (WF 89). Colour: amber gold. Nose: when ripe mangos meet some light caramel and some perfect milk chocolate, as well as some nougat, orange blossom water, and just earl grey tea. The thing is, there are also tiny floral touches emerging, especially wisteria, as well a wee cologne-y side, but naturally, that’s high-class cologne made by a proper perfumer. With water: Amrut has often displays small notes of fine bourbon in the background, in my opinion, and that’s the case here. Old Fitzgerald! Mouth (neat): grand! Caraway, violets, blood oranges, tamarind, manuka honey, and just wee touches of cloves and turmeric from the oak. With water: what’s really cool is that it does kind of taste of India, or rather soft Indian spices, some kind of creamy sauce, perhaps even roasted cashews… But careful, sometimes you shouldn’t quite trust your brain. Anyway, this is absolutely excellent. Did we mention caraway? Aniseed? Finish: medium, rather on stewed tropical fruits and the same soft spices. I should ask an Indian chef about those spices, it’s all rather complex. Comments: I hope they’re all very proud. Beyond the fact that it’s great whisky, it’s the Indianness that I find rather extraordinary, in all senses of that word. And that’s not just your brain playing tricks on you.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Since we’re at SMAC’s…

Paul John (OB, for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, cask #6028)

Paul John (OB, for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, cask #6028) Three stars
We haven't got any picture or the bottle yet so we've put a portrait of a very fine Indian gentleman who happens to know a lot about whisky instead. Colour: straw. Nose: whether some Indian peat does make sense or not doesn’t matter, after all they serve poppadums in Inverness, don’t they. What’s particularly fine here is the way that peatiness mingles with all the tropical fruits and the green curry-like notes. Granted, this is not Laphroaig 1967, but I find no dissonances, it’s just not very coastal. Forget about kelp and oysters. So let’s say some soft-smoked curry with baked bananas and papayas. Mouth (neat): this is stranger. A little sour, with a bittersweet feeling, some mint, whacky guavas perhaps, paper, and really a lot of tarragon. That’s very uncommon, we may need a reset ;-). Finish: rather long, with notes of smoked wood that remind us of some cachaças. It’s as if this was matured in some different wood, eucalyptus or else. Must be the peat. Comments: loved the nose, the palate’s maybe not really for my, well, my very Middle-european palate. It’s also true that it was in a death seat after the fantastic Amrut.
SGP:553 - 80 points.

Paul John ‘Brilliance’ (46%, OB, India, 2018)

Good, this may become very Indian… Another Paul John please…

Paul John ‘Brilliance’ (46%, OB, India, 2018) Three stars

Colour: gold. Nose: there, tarte tatin, mango jam, mirabelles, apricot pie, light honey, maple syrup, and indeed a little eucalyptus once again. Do eucalyptus trees grow around Goa? Mouth: perfect, perhaps a tad uncomplicated, but indeed, perfectly on pies and stewed fruits, mirabelles and apricots again, vanilla cream, and a little custard. Some mangos too, but I wouldn’t call this very fine baby Mr. Mango. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, easy, pretty sweet. Notes of pineapples, cinnamon pies... Comments: a rather sweeter malt whisky, well made and not too complicated. You have to like them sweet.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Back to Amrut…

Amrut 2011/2016 (56.5%, OB, India, for Hot Malt Taiwan, PX, cask #4122, 624 bottles)

Amrut 2011/2016 (56.5%, OB, India, for Hot Malt Taiwan, PX, cask #4122, 624 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: red amber, copper. Nose: quite a lot of rubber, used matches, pomegranates, cherry jam, more pomegranates, grenadine, and ‘love apples’ (toffee apples). The PX is actually huge here, as if it was some cocktail. Not un-nice, having said that. With water: less sulphur, and huge bags of sultanas. This one may have altered the prices of sultanas in the whole world. Mouth (neat): more uebefortified PX than PX-ed malt. Ultra-sweet, ultra-raisiny, and simply very spectacular. With water: it is PX. Finish: long, extremely sweet and raisiny, with a leafier aftertaste. Comments: da PX bomb. Not quite for me, but I’d understand why some friends would fall in love with it.
SGP:841 - 78 points.

Quick, bourbon…

Amrut 2012/2018 ‘Chronicles’ (60%, OB, India, for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, 660 bottles)

Amrut 2012/2018 ‘Chronicles’ (60%, OB, India, for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, 660 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: there, a feeling of chic bourbon (chic bourbon?) and pine wood, ink, carbon paper lapsang souchong, vanilla, then violets, white chocolate, mangos, tarte tatin and Ovaltine. All that works in sync, I find this beautiful. With water: fab. Cedar shavings, eucalyptus, earth, mushrooms, guavas, menthol… What a cask! Dr. Swan’s work? Mouth (neat): it’s very ‘Asian’, which is very positive in my words. You could put this into the same cluster as that of the best ex-bourbon Kavalans and Chichibus, if you see what I mean. Not talking about the wined follies here. With water: millimetric, perfect. Again, what a cask! Mangos, menthol, lemongrass, cedar… Finish: long, very fresh. Impressive. Comments: sure the cask did most of the job here, but what a cask! The very best of modern ‘wood technology’, shall we say.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Paul John 7 yo ‘Kanya’ (50%, OB, India, 2018, 1,500 bottles)

Paul John 7 yo ‘Kanya’ (50%, OB, India, 2018, 1,500 bottles) Four stars
Looks like this one’s very expensive, what happened? Yeah, more than 200€, apparently. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh, this is very luscious, almost decadent malt whisky. Wood technology was in action here as well, and we do get bourbon once again, or at least some boisterous American oak, with coconuts and vanilla this time. Planks ‘in a good way’, vanillin ‘in a good way’, corn syrup ‘in a good way’, and coconut water ‘in a good way’. With water: barley, oak, vanilla, bread. Mouth (neat): Indian bourbon, really. Comes complete with touches of violets and lavender, over a sea of vanilla custard, butterscotch and grated coconut. Oranges and touches of earth as well. With water: a little easier, but once again I find this more ‘bourbony’ than malty. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Finish: medium, sweet and sour, easy. Some syrup. Comments: in case you haven’t noticed, I find this very good. Indian whisky for bourbon freaks?
SGP:640 - 85 points.

PS: just saw that this was Jim M.’s Best Asian Whisky of 2018. Well then…

Amrut ‘Madeira Finish’ (50%, OB, India, 2018)

Amrut ‘Madeira Finish’ (50%, OB, India, 2018) Three stars and a half
NAS, Madeira, why not? We’ll do this quick…  Colour: apricot. Nose: no quibbling, this works. Walnuts, raisins, blood oranges, struck matches, figs. With water: some drier notes, perhaps a little mustard, ink, books… Mouth (neat): Madeira often works, I just do not know why. The powers of malvasia? Lovely mentholness, figs, tobacco, chestnuts or something… All is fine here. With water: drier. Walnuts. Finish: medium, dry, certainly on walnuts. A little white pepper and some sourer fruits. Sorb? Other smaller berries?  Comments: pretty dry. I like it, it’s pretty austere, more austere than most Amruts, in fact.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Looks like we failed, once again, since we stayed in India. To think that we were also having some very rare Swedish whisky on the tasting table! Next time...

BONUS: I think we forgot Rampur…

Rampur ‘Vintage Select Casks’ (43%, OB, India, 2019)

Rampur ‘Vintage Select Casks’ (43%, OB, India, 2019) Three stars
I’m not sure we could call Rampur ‘the third top Indian’ but I suppose we wouldn’t be too far off. Colour: gold. Nose: very fine and rather aromatic, and rather on notes of rum and overripe bananas and pineapples at first, then more on Cognac (peaches, honey, raisins). Stays on Cognac for a long time. That’s funny! More orange blossom water and tinned litchis after a good few minutes, which could be seen as even funnier.  Mouth: young Cognac really. More peach syrup, orange blossom water, Turkish delights, acacia honey, also bananas again. Finish: medium, rather drier, and rather more on… malt whisky. Comments: it’s really fine, not sure it’ll win the Nobel Prize of whisky but it’s good stuff for blind tasting. So you say Cognac?
SGP:641 - 81 points.

There's also a new Rampur in a decanter that I've already tried and that's excellent, it's just that it isn't out yet so I'll publish my note as soon as it is

More tasting notesCheck the index of all world whiskies we've tasted so far







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