Famous Amrut

If on a cold lonely night you feel a sudden crave for a good dram of whisky, your eyes will possibly lean on a good old scotch, or why not a warm spicy bourbon, or a small batch Canadian rye. But no one yet would automatically go for an Indian bottling.

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The whisky industry has gone through many trends, ups and downs, just as any other would. If it is true that there is a rise of interest in the small batches, special woods and maturing techniques, we would never imagine people pushing their curiosity towards Asia regarding the subject. (Although, India has recently reached the position of biggest consumer of whisky in the world). Fact!

Now of course India has its traditional local beverages, such as palm-based alcohol, fruit wines, and Arrack (based on the fermentation and distillation of coconut sap, or molasses). But we know colonisation brought along with ethnic massacres, religious wars and public transports, a taste for fine malts. New elites were educated with British culture and anything from the empire was luxury.  As the Brits left India, the imports of scotch became overly taxed. We are talking about over 500% of taxes on a bottle of fine single malt. As it has been proved in the past, taxes will never stop the human being from drinking.  While rich classes can afford expensive imports bottling’s, the poorer have had to satisfy themselves with blends based on neutral spirits that are distilled from fermented molasses with only a small portion consisting of traditional malt whisky, usually about 10 to 12 per cent. I know Scottish people that would rather kiss the queen than call this beverage a whisky.

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 You would think “why don’t  Indians do whisky that is actual whisky?”. First, sugar cane is cheaper to produce than barley in India. The second reason would be the same as the one that gave birth to English style gin. Back in the days, when English soldiers discovered Dutch courage “Genève “on the European battlefields during the 30 years War, they came back home with the taste and addiction to it, but not quite the knowledge and hardware to produce the same spirit. When the imperialist colons left India, they didn’t really teach the art of distillation and cask maturation to their former subjects. While the first Japanese distiller had studied the art of distilling in Scotland, and brought this knowledge back to Japan in the early 1920s, the Indian population just started produced a by-product that could be as similar as possible in terms of tastes, no matter what techniques of production would be used.  Always remembering that the protectionist taxation system rends prohibitive to the masses the acquisition of fine Scottish scotches.

Recent regulations on what could be legally called scotch have encouraged development of malt whiskeys in India, also promoting the evolutions of skills. We can now find Sherry casks matured malts, or cask strength bottling’s.

One of the only brand worldwide available is Amrut. The company started liquor production just as the country was gaining its independence in 1948. This whisky is made from selected Indian barley grown at the feet of the Himalayas, mashed and distilled in small batches, and matured in oak barrels 3000feet above the sea level in Bangalore, with a tropical climate, high temperature and high humidity levels speeds the ageing process, increasing the angel’s share, which mean they are generally younger than their Gaelic counterpart. . They usually are bottled slightly above what we would be used, at 46% for the single malt. A blend of Scottish malt and Indian barley is available at 50%, while a cask strength is available at 61,8 %. Like most of Indian whiskies, Amrut is generally fruity and malty. Their selection is available in Canada, and is definitely worth trying for softer palates. Just remember never to call it scotch in front of a true Scottish gentleman if you don’t want Sean Connery to come kick your lower parts .

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One Response to “Famous Amrut”

  1. Excellent write-up. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Stick with it!

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