...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Amrut Spectrum 004, US Release

Of all the Amrut gimmicks, this one seems like the most fun: Purposely build a cask out of multiple cask types, then fill it up with whisky and watch what happens. I'm surprised Amrut beat the Scotch industry to it.

There should be an asterisk on this bottling, though. It's made of staves from four different types of casks: new French oak, ex-oloroso, ex-PX and new American oak. It is not made up of four "different oak woods", or at least there's no additional detail given other than what had seasoned the staves. In fact there are only two types of oak listed on the bottle's labels: French and American. American oak makes up the vast majority of whisky casks, including ex-sherry, for cost and structural purposes, so it's likely that American oak makes up three-quarters of each Spectrum cask.

An interesting, and educational, experiment would be to age whisky in each of these four separate cask types in the same corner of the warehouse as the Spectrum casks, then blend or marry the four cask types' contents together, then compare the results of Spectrum and this other "Four Wood" creation. Perhaps someone would learn something.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Spectrum is only finished in the custom casks. I'm not sure if I should I be grumbling about that. Time to find out.

Distillery: Amrut
Region: Bangalore, India
Age: minimum 3 years
Batch: 004 (It's a James Bond joke. Get it?)
Maturation: first aged in ex-bourbon casks, then finished in casks made with the aforementioned four stave types
Outturn: 1,800 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? ???
(from a bottle split)

The whisky's color is very very dark. The nose leads with roasted nuts, specifically walnuts and cashews. Then coffee beans and a hint of dried currants. Later it's carob bark, mint leaves and maple candy. What's extraordinary about the palate is that it's nothing but espresso upon the first two sips. That's it. Then gradually comes salt, dried cherries and limes. Honey, wood smoke and toffee pudding. The PX starts to take over, as do plenty of tannins. There's also a significant musty oak note, just to keep the drinker on his or her toes. The espresso shows up in the finish as well. Then limes, brown sugar, grape jam, honey and pencil shavings. It grows sweeter with time.

Going into this, I knew the spirit was only present to deliver the product in a liquid medium. The result, the piles of tannins and sherries, is......Fun. There's something exceptional about its thumping shifts and volume. One moment it feels like a 40 year old sherry cask, the next moment it's a gloppy PX-finish, then it's honeycomb, then it's coffee. Does it ever come together as one piece? Maybe in the nose, which is subtle compared to the rhinoceros-playing-piano palate. The price, though. Jeez. That's wackier than the rest.

Availability - a few specialty European and American liquor retailers
Pricing - Europe: $300-$350 (ex-VAT); USA: $400-$500. Yes, you're reading that correctly.
Rating - 89 (that's some good wood)