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The First Whisky Distillery in India
Amrut Distilleries Ltd was founded in 1948 by JD Radhakrishna Rao Jagd with the intention of producing ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor’. That meant spirits that were non-indigenous to India. At this time, India had no culture of single malt consumption as whisky from Scotland was often imported and blended with local spirit made from sugarcane or molasses. In 1976, Radhakrishna’s son, Neelakanta Rao Jagdale, took over the running of the business and began to set his sights on a directional change. By 1982, Jagdale had plotted a new course that would see Amrut distil a malt whisky of their own from locally grown barley.
Amrut distillers noted that evaporation of maturing spirit was far greater in India than in the likes of Scotland, meaning an Indian distillery could lose up to 12% per year as opposed to an average of 2%. This had the beneficial effect however of maturing the spirit quicker, giving a 5-year-old whisky the character generally expected of a 10-year-old.
In 1987 a new distillery was built on a four-acre site in Kambipura to focus exclusively on the production of Indian single malt. Within 20 years, the Amrut was launching to a worldwide audience as the first single malt brand produced entirely in India.
Although initially well-received, Amrut’s reputation took years to cultivate as stubborn connoisseurs turned their nose up at such an unheard-of provenance. Over time, however, the quality of the spirit shone through and word soon spread that this was a malt to be taken seriously.
Smell: Vanilla and digestive biscuits with honey and floral, aromatic peat smoke.
Taste: Biscuit and honey, orange cream and subtle peat smoke. Also a touch of coffee, some soft cinnamon spice and a pleasantly weighty texture on the palate.
Thoughts: Costs around £50 in the UK, which isn’t a bad price for a malt of this character. Bottled at 50%, it also offers some bang for your buck. Altogether a very tempting package for those looking to expand their horizons a little. The quality of single malt on offer allows Amrut to stand shoulder to shoulder with its Scottish cousins and it should be considered amongst the first stops on any exploration of world whisky.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.