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I bought this whisky almost a year ago, and poured it for my office around Christmas; I chose Amrut as we had just opened Deepa Mehta's film Midnight's Children, so it seemed appropriate. Surprisingly, while some in my office liked it, it didn't blow anyone away - anyone except for me, that is.
Amrut was founded in 1948 by Shri J. N. Radhakrishna, in Bangalore (3000 feet above sea level), who passed it on to his son in 1976. Until 2002, when it started stealthily making inroads into the UK, it wasn't really known in the West. Named after a mythological Hindu drinking vessel, Amrut uses barley grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the spirit is matured (with the exception of finishes) in both new and ex-bourbon casks. Their whiskies are non-chill-filtered. Amrut also makes other spirits such as brandy, rum, vodka, etc.
Fusion is exactly that: a meeting of East and West. Peated barley is brought in from Scotland and distilled, then combined with distillate from non-peated barley grown in India. This one is from batch no. 17, bottled in January 2012.
A medium gold colour. On the nose, very spicy malt, almost rye-like. Cinnamon, cloves, raspberries and sea-salted dark chocolate. Fairly peaty as well, with lots of wood/spirit interaction. Grassy, and extremely herbal, with mint and sage. Lapsang souchon. Enormous. Surprisingly, water just dulls things...
On the palate, some heat and spice: cayenne pepper, chili powder and sea salt. More caramel and vanilla here, with rich toffee notes. Some bitter cardamom and black tea. In perfect harmony with the nose, the peat helps pack a punch with the spices but it is never overwhelming. Water helps tame the spice - but this malt really doesn't need it.
On the finish, salt-and-pepper rides some waves of oak and bitter dark chocolate. This is an absolutely extraordinary whisky: bitter, spicy, sweet, delicious. One of the most complex, yet harmonious whiskies I've ever tasted. Previous batches have racked up huge accolades: a Jim Murray score of 97 (and Third Best Whisky In The World), World Whisky of the Year from Malt Advocate, and Best Natural Cask, Daily Drams Award from the Malt Maniacs. All very well deserved.