At the very end of 2013 just before New Years Day, I was traveling home from family Christmas in Nashville Tennessee. It was just my wife and I, so we stopped at a liquor in Knoxville (which is on our way into Virginia). There is a store there that is simply wonderful for whisky enthusiasts. It isn’t the cheapest place ever, but it has one of the best selections I have ever seen in the states. (If you are still looking to pick up a bottle of Glenmorangie Pride . . . they have it).
After doing some shopping (filling up the cart) I noticed that they had a few bottles on closeout for 50% off. One was this Amrut Intermediate Sherry B. No. 2 Sep. 2010. Now, I didn’t know a whole lot about this whisky from India. I had tried their Fusion, the standard single malt, the Peated malt, and the Peated Cask Strength versions. It took some getting use to this Indian single malt whisky, but my impression was forming that they were producing good quality liquid – but expensive for young whisky. There were several other bottles that I knew were dear to @Victor’s heart so I gave him a call from the store floor. I picked up a few bottles for him, but when he heard the price on the Amrut Intermediate Sherry he was amazed. There were only two bottles left. So I got one for him and one for myself (at both his and my wife’s urging). We also ended up splitting a bottle of Bruichladdich Black Art 2.2 (also 50% off) . . . but that is story for another review.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2014 with my wife. It was a special occasion so I decided to open this effusively red box and bottle to keep with the red and pink theme of the evening. From the first nose I immediately knew that I held something special. My wife, who typically doesn’t drink whisky, took a sip for “shared experience” and immediately declared it her favorite whisky ever! Yes, this bottle surpassed her love for Lagavulin 16yo – which has long held the title of her “favorite whisky.”
So after a number of tastings comparing it with other Amruts and other sherry matured whiskies here are my comprehensive tasting notes for this dram.
Thick luxurious silky notes from the sherry butts. Big juicy dark fruits with tons of spice: brown sugar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, fennel and star anis. It is like a baked concoction of plumbs, strawberries, figs and raspberries drizzled with honey, sprinkled with the spice mixture, baked, and finally hit with some lemon juice to give it some acidity and brightness. This takes me to a Middle Eastern market in the hot summer sun just before sun set. I can hear the prattle of the market as I relax in a private room darkened by thick curtains to keep off the sun. The sweetness, spice, and fruit really set my mind to wonder. My imagination is transported to Arrakis: Dune (I loved that book). Now I am getting notes of chocolate covered fruit! This is wonderful, big, bold, spicy and verging on perfection.
Sweetness and spice . . . one thousand spices. The spice and sherry notes merge beautifully. Easily one of the best sherry expressions I have tasted even if it isn’t as thick as I expected. Now the fruit and malt kick in. Tons of sweet fruits (all red: raspberries, gala apples, strawberries) covered in honey. I can detect some vanilla from the bourbon casks. Yes, this is not as thick as a fully matured sherry bomb from Glenfarclas, Glendronach, Macallan, or Aberlour. However, it has a wonderful viscosity that sits easily on your tongue at 57% ABV feeling as smooth as silk. You could add water . . . but why when it is so beautiful?
Huge wave of rich desert spices thrash your tongue while delicious red fruits slither down your gullet. The spice mixes with fire, fruit, and oak. The red fruit provides a base, the wood adds character, but the spices rule in big waves of cloves, coriander, cinnamon, all spice, curry, vanilla and cayenne. Huge spice and fire . . . tons of fire. This is more about spice than fruit . . . and I am OK with that. Seriously, my mind gets the desert sands of Dune in its stupid mind’s eye.
It is shockingly complex for its young age. The spice is amazingly sophisticated, powerful and intricate. I love how the spice (which my growing experience tells me is indicative of the pure Amrut spirit) mixes with the fruit notes from the sherry butts. This whisky is a marked change from the typical sherry matured whisky experience. I love the balance between the spice and fruit. What I mean by balance is that the flavors are distinct (capable of being identified) but also fit into the ensemble. This dram is like a choir where you can hear the blend of the whole, but you can also focus and pick out individual voices. Fantastic.
Here is where this amazing malt loses a step. The big box is a bit cheesy and seems cheap while trying to look expensive and luxurious (I have to note that they have changed the box in recent releases). I admit that I love the bottle shape, but the label leaves something to be desired. The full aesthetic experience doesn’t scream $100 . . . and that is the problem. Still, I love the ABV and . . . the color of the liquid is fantastic.
This is a fantastic whisky that really helped me turn a corner with (unpeated) sherry dominant whisky. It showed me what a beautiful untainted sherry butt can do. I think I can now let my private war with Macallan end. I have to admit that I would never have bought a bottle at full price. I am so glad that @Victor talked me into it. The liquid has convinced me I must have another bottle – even at full price! And after my visit to Chicago I now have two ;-). I now have a second bottle of batch No. 2 (simply amazing to find the last bottle in Chicago) and a bottle of batch No. 5. Looking forward to cracking it open this coming Valentine’s Day!!!