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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Single Malt Report: Amrut Intermediate Sherry, batch 4

If you're keeping score:
Amrut Intermediate Sherry, batch 4 today

Amrut Intermediate Sherry is what it sounds like, a sherried whisky sandwich.  First the whisky is aged in ex-bourbon casks (and maybe some new oak casks).  Next, after an unspecified length of time, that's dumped into ex-sherry butts.  And then, after an unspecified length of time, that whisky gets dumped back into ex-bourbon casks.  You get some water with your sherry sandwich, but not much, as they drop the strength to 100 UK proof (or 57.1%abv).

(Commentary starts)
One of the differences between the young Asian distilleries Amrut and Kavalan is Amrut never got into the business of selling four year old single casks for $300+ a pop.  But what they did do was price much of their range and special editions above $100, and did so while rarely stating the whiskies' ages.  To top that off, Blackadder, Amrut's main indie bottler, is now selling their single casks for $150-$200, often without an age statement.  Meanwhile, Kavalan usually reveals their single casks' ages, no matter how much the youth makes us chuckle or cringe.  So, who's being more of a pain in the ass?  You choose.  Though I do like Amrut's whisky better.  BUT because of the pricing, I've never bought anything other than Amrut Fusion and am relying on friends to provide me with samples from their swanky bottles.
(Commentary ends)

This sample came to me courtesy of Aaron Krouse (aka aaron197172 of Boozing Dancing).  Thanks, Aaron!

Distillery: Amrut
Region: Bangalore, India
Age: minimum 3 years
Batch: #04
Maturation: First: ex-bourbon or new oak casks; Second: ex-sherry butts; Third: ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? ???

We're going to go swimming with this one.

The nose starts off with ethyl and salt.  It needs a few minutes.....then it gets cakey (cinnamon, brown sugar, almond extract, and walnuts).  Smaller notes of vanilla and strawberry candy appear here and there.  It's not as immediately accessible as Kadhambam.

The palate is more pungent, though still hot.  There's baklava, honey, dried apricots, and some new sweet oak.  It gets a little floral after some time in the glass, then picks up a large acidic citrus note.

Sweet and heat in the finish.  Sour candy, molasses, baklava, and maybe a hint of berries.  Sherry hits late in the aftertaste.

It cries out for water.  Let's drop it to Kadhambam/Fusion strength:

WITH WATER (~50%abv)
The nose is still pretty tight.  I get some cinnamon, dates, and golden raisins.  Fruit cake, perhaps?

The palate gets a little scotchier.  Feels like refill sherry casks.  Toasted oak, a dusting of cocoa, and lots of white and red peppercorns.  Very sweet.

The finish is musty and peppery.  Less sweet than the palate.  Some black raisins in there.

Moar water plz:

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
Ah, good nose.  Caramel sauce, fresh apricots and oranges, vanilla, and carob.

The palate is nutty and savory.  Black pepper, nutty sherry, and sugar-covered raisins.

Cinnamon and nutty sherry in the finish.

Maybe just a little more water:

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Mostly citrus and black pepper in the nose.  Smaller notes of American oak, carob, and fresh oregano.

The palate has been silenced.  Quiet notes of sugar, vanilla, black pepper, and bitterness.

Mostly pepper and sugar in the otherwise acidic finish.

This is very hot at full strength, a bit of a palate wrecker actually.  I liked it best at 43%abv where the ethyl dropped away and everything pulled together.  Despite my occasional references to sherry in the notes, the sherry influence was very mild.  I found much more US oak action throughout.

Keep in mind, this whisky will vary from batch to batch.  So all the 20+ batches won't be like this one.  I tried this particular version alongside a little bit of the Kadhambam and found this one suffered a bit in comparison.  Batch 4 isn't bad, in fact it's probably a more cohesive unit (specifically at 43%abv) than the Kadhambam, but it never shifts into the next gear.  And, dang, is it a little raw.

Availability - This specific batch has probably sold out. The newest batches are available at many specialty retailers in the US and Europe
Pricing - current batches run $110 to $135 in the US, $70-$100 in Europe
Rating - 82 (with water!)