Amrut is a distillery in India. It is located in Bangalore in the south west of the country and was originally established in 1948, although whisky production didn't begin until the mid 1980s. The Indian market is one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world for consumption of whisky. However, most 'whisky' is made from various local ingredients (crucially not barley or other grains) and can therefore not be technically classed as whisky. Also the standard can be very poor. At Amrut they do use malted barley, which is grown and malted in other parts of India. They use water from a well that is located 15 miles from the distillery and then distillation and maturation takes place in Bangalore. Here, the temperature and humidity are high so the whisky matures much faster than in Scotland or Ireland. As a result of this the spirit evaporates much quicker (this evaporation is called the 'angel's share') and maturation for anything above four years is difficult. Amrut are the first Indian distillery to seriously export to the UK and Europe and this one is a peated version (the peat is actually flown over from Scotland as they don't have any in India!). It is bottled at cask strength with a very high alcohol level of 61.9% ABV.
The nose initially blasts you with peat smoke but underneath is sweet and rich with lots of dried fruit, nuts and marzipan (imagine a Christmas fruit cake). There is also something that is not natural in there that reminded me of custard powder or fake vanilla essence. This is full bodied on the palate and just blows your mouth away (mine actually went numb!). The burn from the high alcohol level just obliterates everything else so I added some water. This revealed some quite sweet and dried fruit notes (think of raisins and dried apples and pears) but it was very dry and woody. I added some more water (almost twice as much water to whisky by this point) and it opened out well and revealed a lovely soft creamy sweetness that balanced much better with the peat smoke. It was still very dry though. This is a very interesting whisky if you get passed the initial aggressiveness in your mouth. It needs a lot of water but after adding this, it really is pretty good. Amrut peated retails for £40 and is a limited release in the UK.