Whisky Advocate

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “World Whisky of the Year”: Amrut Fusion

February 23rd, 2011

This is a new award category for us. It includes all of the whisky distilling nations outside the major ones (United States, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland). We created this category to recognize that there are some wonderful whiskies being produced in countries like Japan, India, Sweden, England, and many more, but there aren’t enough whiskies made in any of these countries (and imported to the United States) to warrant their own category.

India’s Amrut distillery changed the way many think of Indian whisky — that it was just cheap Scotch whisky blended with who knows what and sold as Indian whisky. Amrut is making whisky, and it’s very good. Also, because of India’s very warm climate, the whisky matures very quickly, making it relatively affordable. Indeed, the Amrut whisky being sold in the U.S. (while bearing no age statement) is generally not over six years old.

Amrut finally began exporting their whisky to the U.S. in 2010. We’ve tasted our way through the various expressions (peated, sherried, cask strength, etc.) and we enjoyed them all, but the one that really impressed us was Amrut Fusion.

Fusion shows balance, complexity, and surprising maturity for its age — these are the defining characteristics for what is the best Indian whisky we have ever tasted. Combining Indian malt and peated Scottish malt, this whisky shows a sweet side, but is never cloying, with rich caramel, vanilla custard, and fruit cocktail in light syrup, balanced by vibrant — almost floral — dried peat smoke, delicate white pepper, and a hint of tropical fruit.  We look forward to more great whiskies from Amrut.

(Editor’s note: A second generation of Amrut will be in distribution in the United States by the time you read this. Compared to the original release, it comes across as being a little smokier, slightly drier, and perhaps not as rounded, but it’s still a very nice whisky.)

Tomorrow the “Pioneer of the Year” will be posted.

33 Responses to “Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “World Whisky of the Year”: Amrut Fusion”

  1. nulty says:

    It does seem odd to me to include Canada in the major whisky nations and leave Japan out. I’m in Europe so this might explain that, as we don’t see (m)any Canadian whiskies here while (compared to you guys) we get quite some Japanese ones.

    • John Hansell says:

      Only one Japanese distillery is imported to the U.S. : Yamazaki. So, it would be pretty silly to have a Japanese whisky category at this time.

      We get quite a wide variety of Canadian whiskies (although not as many as I would like).

      • nulty says:

        Well, only one american automotive brand is imported over here and we don’t jump to the conclusion that the US are not one of the major countries of this industry …

        • lockejn says:

          He might more explicitly have said “It includes all of the whisky distilling nations outside the major ones [readily available in North America].” It’s an American magazine and so there’s a understandable difference in perspective. No slight to Japanese whisky intended, I’m sure.

        • John Hansell says:

          We make it very clear at the beginning that to be eligible, your product must be for sale in the U.S. in the 2010 calendar year. Why on earth would we create an award category where there is only one brand and they are guaranteed to win? There are plenty of other competitions out there where, if a brand enters, they are almost assured a medal (or whatever). That’s not us.

          • nulty says:

            “The only requirement: to be eligible for this year’s awards, products must have been sold in the U.S. during the 2010 calendar year. Please keep this in mind when reading about our award winners.”

            Well I guess I owe you an apologie then :)

            My bad.

  2. Chris Barrett says:

    John,

    We have one of the “generations” of Amrut Fusion in stores in Ontario (Canada) right now (appeared last week around Ontario). Given how far our distribution system is behind on things, is there a tip for how to distinguish the two releases?

    • H.Diaz says:

      In general, I wish brands would make it easy to distinguish annual releases, especially from smaller brands, not so much from big brands like Glenlivet 12 y/o and the likes. For example, take Redbreast 12 y/o. I’d like to taste this years release, see for myself what Johns is talking about. But, while at the shop, I can’t tell if it’s from this year, last year or been on the shelf for five years. Help!

      As for Amrut Fusion, I don’t know. To me, blending with Scottish malt seems a bit like cheating. I mean, how much is Indian and how much is Scottish? Anyhow, I would very much like to try it, should I ever see one.

      • The whisky is 100% Amrut, they use a mix of himalayan barley and scottish barley

        I think the reason they use scottish barley is the absence of peat in India, so to get a peaty whisky it’s most convenient to use scottish barley (or barley malted in Scotland to be more precise)

        Steffen

      • MrTH says:

        It’s not as if the Scots use exclusively Scottish barley, either–they couldn’t possibly. I’ve heard that they import from as far as Australia.

      • Ryan says:

        H.,
        Good point. If it helps at all, many bottle manufacturers–such as whomever manufactures for Redbreast–use dye stamps, laser etching, or relief projections to indicate a bottle’s manufacture date. Usually somewhere on the bottom, or lower portion of the bottle. I understand that method of distinguishing doesn’t offer-up the kind of validity you’re looking for, but it’s better than nothing.

  3. MrTH says:

    “It includes all of the whisky distilling nations outside the major ones (United States, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland).” Ah yes, the I-CUSS countries.

  4. Louis says:

    John,

    Another excellent choice. The Fusion is a really fine dram. With only a moderate amount of peat, it was enjoyable long before it got cold last fall. The 50% ABV is just right as well. Amrut has hit a solid double in its first at-bat here in the US, IMHO. And no issues with the price (although they fixed that with the Intermediate Sherry).

    Slainte.

    Louis

  5. Murrell Kinkade says:

    I had some of this several weeks ago at a tasting at the Party Source in Bellevue, Ky. It was absolutely stunning. It was so good that I brought some home with me. Jay Erissman knows whisky and when he told me I would like this, I said, to myself, ‘yeah right.’ Well he was right and it is better than some Scotches at three times the price.

  6. acme says:

    My bottle has a batch no. of 4. Its reminiscent of Stranahan’s whiskey in that there are big notes of vanilla and banana. The Amrut I have tastes like lightly peated banana nut bread. As for maturing quicker, it still tastes young, a la Stranahans, but the big sweetness hides it a bit.

  7. Nabil says:

    I too was more than impressed when I scored this one blind. The peating level gives it a chewiness that leaves you smacking your lips and wanting more. It is also very intelligently priced.

    Nabil

  8. George Jetson says:

    John, I would have personally gone with the Intermediate Sherry from Amrut, when limited to U.S.-only releases. I like the Fusion and the other expression of Amrut (including the cask-strength), but the I.S. was a standout for me. The higher abv @ 57.1% to me gives the Amrut, ooomph, that is otherwise a little lacking from the 50% Fusion. The whisky is by no means a sherry monster owing to its complicated racking history.

    First, it was shipped to Jerez, Spain and then rolled around inside the barrel to kill any bacteria. Then the casks were sent to Bangalore. After finishing the whisky in the sherry butts, it then went into American oak casks for another year or so. That was a very good move and very unusual which resulted in a great balance of sherry and vanilla.

    There are many peated whiskies out there which do a great job of balancing the heat and the sweet. It is altogether different to find a good sherried whisky that has some distillery character underneath the mask. The I.S. for me hits that note quite nicely.

  9. George Jetson says:

    Next year hopefully we will get Glann Ar Mor’s, Kornog, in the U.S…..

  10. As the US importer of Amurt allow me to claify a few points.
    All Amrut bottlings have a Batch Number and Bottling date on the back label.
    Amrut Fusion is made by using fully matured Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength (75%) and fully matured Amrut Peated Single Malt Cask Strength (25%) . The two whiskies are placed in ex-bourbon barrels for further aging allowing the flavors to “fuse” together to create Amrut Fusion and is bottled at 50% ABV.

    As there is no peat in India Amrut Distilleries buys peated barley from Scotland to use in the production of their Peated Single Malts.

    Regarding comments about Scottish Single Malt production approximately 60% of the barley used is imported into Scotland (mostly from England and France)

    Cheers
    Raj

    • Chris Barrett says:

      Thanks Raj,

      My peated single malt is batch 7 bottled June 2010, and standard single malt is batch 17 bottled June 2010. I’ll check the Fusion in store, although I think you are saying I could make my own 46% version of Fusion :-)

      Chris

    • mongo says:

      thanks, raj. i’d thought the “fusion” was that of indian and scottish barleys for the purpose of distilling this whisky–i did not know that the fusion is a (further aged) vatting of two other amrut malts. or is that still the case that this refers to a fusion of whisky made from scottish and indian barleys? is the regular cs made entirely from indian barley and the regular peated entirely from scottish barley? if so, i guess it’s “double fusion”.

  11. Red_Arremer says:

    Kudos on that editorial note, John. I wish more whisky critics would be so careful with the plaudits they disseminate.

  12. mongo
    Amrut Single Malt and Amrut Single malt Cask Strenght are made entirely from Indian barley. This barley is a different strain than barley grown in the UK. The sugar content is slightly higher contributing to a sweeter taste of the finished Single malt.
    The barley is grown in the north of India (Punjab and Rajasthan) and then malted in Delhi before being sipped to the distillery in Bangalore.
    As there is no peat in India, Amrut imports its peated barley from Scotland (however the barley is not necessarily grown in Scotland it may come from England, France or other parts – it is however peated in Scotland)

    Fusion is made using a percentage of the aged finished Amrut Single Malt and aged finished Peated Single malt.

    Chris, Fusion is bottled at 50%. if you want a 46% version you will need to dilute it with water. There is further aging of the Single malts to create Fusion.

    Cheers
    Raj

  13. Andre Girard says:

    Still prefer the AMRUT CASK STRENGTH PEATED and looking forward to buy the Two Continents… Good stuff, well made and affortable.

  14. […] “India’s Amrut distillery changed the way many think of Indian whisky — that it was just cheap Scotch whisky blended with who knows what and sold as Indian whisky. Amrut is making whisky, and it’s very good. Also, because of India’s very warm climate, the whisky matures very quickly, making it relatively affordable. Indeed, the Amrut whisky being sold in the U.S. (while bearing no age statement) is generally not over six years old.” – from Malt Advocate […]

  15. Gupta Pramod says:

    As adertising of alcoholic drinks are restricted in India, It was very surprising to know we make world class whiskies here in India too. It was intially difficult to procure Amrut Fusion here but I grabbed one at Bangalore the moment it was released in India. I expected a lot from it and believe me I was not dissapointed.

    • Sanjay says:

      Pramod where did you buy this in Bangalore, is it available in the local liquor stores or just high end retail stores or speciality stores.

  16. HP12 says:

    John,

    Can you tell us what batch number / month / year is listed on the bottle that was reviewed (located on upper right corner of back label)? Thanks.

  17. H. Diaz says:

    ….just took my first sip of Amrut Fusion. Wow, what a surprise. It’s pretty good. Neat, it’s hard to believe it’s 50% abv. It’s pretty smooth. Almost no heat. Great nutty and sweet sherry like flavor. Harder to believe it’s made in India. Wow. Fantastic. Batch No. 07 Sept. 2010

    When I first read about Amrut Fusion, over 2 years ago and here on this blog, I thought they were blending Indian whisky with Scotch whisky, the liquid. I felt this was cheating, so to speak. No, I was mistaken, they’re blending Indian malt and Scottish peated malt. Genius.

    I never expected to see Amrut on shelves around here, central Texas. So where did I find it? Where else – but at a local shop owned by Indian Americans! Of course. I also bought Amrut Peated Single Malt. It was a good whisky hunting day. Cheers.

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