Naarangi – Hindi for ‘orange’. This one just as easily have been called ‘Amrut cheekily skates up to the edge of the rules, flashes a bare ass at the powers that be, then skates away laughing’. But then again…what rules does Amrut have to follow? Short answer: None but those they make for themselves, which essentially means satisfying their own moral compass and innate sense of curiosity. Ok, ok…and that would have been a hell of a stupid name for a whisky. But you get the point, yeah?
As you know, under the regulations laid out by the SWA (Starchy Withered Assholes, if I’ve heard the acronym spelled out correctly), Scotch malt whisky can contain nothing more than water, yeast and barley (oh, yeah…and seemingly as much of that nasty over-bitter artificial coloring you may wish to add). No infusions, no creative barrel play, no true innovation. Sometimes this is a good thing. We whisky codgers are nothing if not suckers for the purity of tradition. Having said that, how does the category ever advance if the forward-thinkers are forced to work in hobbles and shackles? Quite a balancing act, I’d say. And one which I’ve not really attained my own philosophically enlightened vantage for yet.
Anyway…though not bound to the sacred tenets like the great producers in Celtic-land, Amrut has chosen to play it square. They did not infuse the whisky with orange (like another Maverick whisky maker did in the not too distant past), instead they infused the sherry that previously lived in the cask with orange. Ergo, when the barrel was dumped the residual oils and flavors from the peels would be left clinging as tightly to the staves as Trump supporters to a gun law. When Amrut new make spirit was splashed inside these wooden beds for the long sleep (well…not too long in the case of Bangalore’s unforgiving climate) the effect was obviously immediate and massive. This is a heck of a unique dram, and really is only a hop, skip and a jump from a liqueur.
Nose: Huge orange and spice notes. Citrus oils. The fruits are very lively on this one, both juicy, over-the-top ripe ones and dry oily figgy ones. Some chocolate. Immediately recognizable as Amrut, in spite of the tomfoolery. A slight pastry or dough note. Vanilla.
Palate: The palate is a little disappointing compared to the vibrancy of the nose. Lots of candies and fruit notes, and actually maybe a little too sweet. And also a little sharp and woody. Lots of spice again. Caramelized sugars. Orange oil. Syrupy. Almost liqueur-like in both flavour and texture.
Thoughts: Liked it a lot. Not quite love, but sometimes it’s nice just to be ‘in like’.
– Images & Words: Curt