The second whisky was GlenDronach Cask Strength, batch 6.
The third whisky was Amrut Portonova, batch 15.
I've enjoyed just about every Amrut single malt I've tried. Aside from the loony prices on the Blackadder bottlings, cask strength Amruts are much cheaper than cask strength Kavalans, and (in my unpopular opinion) often of better quality. The Portonova is my favorite of the Amrut releases. See here for my raves on batch 1. It was my pleasure to introduce this Indian single malt to the ladies and gentlemen who attended the tasting. Sure enough it was the attendees' second favorite of the set, next to the GlenDronach. Would I feel the same???
Age: minimum 3 years
Maturation: first round in American oak, second round in ex-port casks
Alcohol by Volume: 62.1%
Caramel Colorant? ???
The nose is very sniffable considering the big ABV. The port character is more reserved than I expected. Yes there's mixed berry candy and pipe tobacco, but there's much more ginger candy and toffee. The palate is also not too hot to sip. Here the port is almost silent. Instead there's ginger, clove, nutmeg, tart limes, chili oil and a defined barley note. Its long, warm finish is lightly sweet, with plantains and limes. Some tingly spiciness.
WITH WATER (~50%abv)
Hmm, more American oak in the nose. Maple syrup, vanilla extract, ginger beer. Dates, dough and chocolate malt. The palate is very peppery, as in peppercorns and chili peppers. Moderate herbal bitterness and earthy notes. It's definitely not sweet, though the finish does pickup some sugar. And vanilla and pepper. Shorter overall.
WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Now the nose is all bourbon cask. Caramel, vanilla and brown sugar. Okay maybe a hint of prunes. Ginger beer. Not much has changed in the palate compared to the 50%abv version. Maybe some more grain action. The finish is all pepper and cinnamon.
WORDS WORDS WORDS
I do like this batch, but it's nowhere near batch 1's quality. It's one of the rare Amruts that feels its ~3yo age. In fact, once water is added, it feels a little like "craft" whiskey, under-matured but with lots of extra oak. Thus I don't recommend diluting it, despite its high alcohol content. It also feels like it's missing an extra dimension from the port casks.
With all that being said, it's good whisky. It's very approachable and its youth presents some fun spicy notes throughout. It would serve well as a winter warmer if one's looking for such a whisky. If this stuff were half the price in the US, I'd even consider getting it.
Availability - easier to get in Europe than the USA...
Pricing - ...and it's cheaper there too. $70-$90 (w/o VAT or shipping) in Europe, $130-$140 in the US
Rating - 84 (neat only)