Tag Archives: Amrut

India – Whisky Or Not?

India. A land of 1.3 billion souls stretching from the glacier valleys of the Himalayas in the North to the tropical jungles of the South.

India. A great track by 80’s indie rockers The Psychedelic Furs.

India. A land of whisky.

Yes – You read that right. I’ll say it again.

India. A land of whisky.

Those 1.3 billion inhabitants enjoy whisky at a similar rate to us in Ireland – which makes it a pretty damn big market. So big in fact that some statistics have it as THE BIGGEST.

Indian whisky sales

Not only is India THE BIGGEST market – it is also produces THE BIGGEST BRANDS for those consumers.

But like me – I think you’ll be hard pressed to name any of them.

Whisky Top 10
Which ones have you tasted?

So let’s get it straight here.

The worlds BIGGEST SELLING BRAND of whisky is an Indian expression I’ve never heard of.

Not only that – 8 of the top 10 brands are Indian and make up over 80% of actual volume sold.

There are similar figures for others years if you care to hunt them down.

So what is going on?

It seems as if Indian whisky falls foul of European regulations helpfully aided by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)  on what a whisky is.

Whisky defined-page-001
Annex II Regulation (EC) No 110/2008

But lots of Bourbons also fall foul of the above regulations in regard to item 2(a)(iii) and yet we can still buy it in the supermarket.

A bit of seeing things from a Western-centric angle going on here?

It seems to be accepted that lots of Indian whisky – and I’m talking here about high volume blends, not the excellent Amrut or John Paul single malts – are produced by a combination of neutral spirit made from fermented molasses and imported Scotch.

DSCF6388 email
My Amrut fusion had a short shelf-life! c/othewhiskeynut

So far so good. I see nothing wrong with using a by-product of sugarcane which is abundant in India for manufacturing a spirit drink.

When whisky makers first entered america there wasn’t much barley. They used what was available – corn, rye – and a new drink called bourbon was developed.

Couldn’t there be room for another category named ‘Indian Whisky’ that can cater for this?

There is already the term ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor’  (IMFL) commonly used to describe such spirits.

There is also much talk about ‘fake‘ and ‘you can’t trust it’.

But wait a minute.Anyone who has read Naomi Klein‘s book ‘No Logo’ wouldn’t be surprised to learn that 6 out of the 8 Indian Whisky brands in the above table are manufactured by only 2 familiar names; Diageo and Pernod-Ricard.

If you’re not prepared to trust what’s in a bottle of Royal Stag or Bagpiper – why do you trust what’s in a bottle of Glenlivet or Lagavulin?  The same companies make it.

So when I stumbled across one of these Indian whiskys – I just had to try it!

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Royal Stag c/othewhiskeynut

Seagram’s  Royal Stag DeLuxe Whisky according to the label is;

‘A smooth full bodied feel of the best Scotch malts from the highlands and carefully selected Indian grain spirit.’

Bottled and blended by Pernod-Ricard India at 42.8% using the following ingredients;

‘Demineralised water, Grain neutral spirit, Scotch malt concentrate’ and that old ‘INS 150a’ or caramel to you and me. How many times do you see caramel listed on your bottle of Scotch or Irish?

Nose. Sweet

Taste. Sweet, thinking Baileys The Whiskey, Nomad territory here – and then some – but follows through with a lovely softly growing pleasant burn on the mouth and tongue – must be the Scotch kicking in – which lingers.

Finish. Satisfyingly long after the sweetness has faded.

Overall. A very pleasant whisky of 2 halves. The sweetness almost put me off during the first half but when that lovely burn came through in the second – it just made me happy – so happy in fact I had another during extra time!

Verdict; This is an easy going blend to drink. Needless to say I had it neat. The sweetness should be toned down for my liking but otherwise I can see why it’s a popular brand. I don’t think this bottle will last long!

Based on my experience with Royal Stag – I’d happily go on to try the other Indian brands in the top 10. The Bagpiper and Old Tavern names appeal to me – so if there are any reps out there heading home….

Whiskey for me is a journey of exploration,

a journey of taste, and above all

a journey of global discovery.

Go explore,

Sláinte

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A Good Blend Is Like A Good Marriage

This blog sends out congratulations to the very happy marriage and highly enjoyable ceremony of Paul and Shazan.

A uniting of two people from diverse backgrounds and countries whose combination is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

In attending the joyous event, I brought along something OLD for the occasion – and how older can you get than a specially bottled whiskey from the oldest working distillery in the world?

Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut
Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut

Like a good marriage – a good blended whiskey brings together diverse spirits – in this case single malt and single grain – that when combined bring about a happy taste experience. The flag bearing Kilbeggan Blend from the Kilbeggan/Cooley distilleries certainly does that in style!

Something NEW is the superbly redesigned Whiskey Shop at the Loop Dublin Airport. I felt like a little kid let loose in the chocolate factory! There was so much whiskey on offer I didn’t know where to begin. From what I can see all the Irish whiskey expressions currently on release were on display – along with a very impressive range of the big four – Scotland, USA, Japan and Canada. There were also some very welcome releases from World Whisky ie,, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, France and India to name a few. But what to chose?

Luckily – a representative from Walsh Whiskey Distillery was at hand with their very impressive range to sample. I spent a happy half hour sampling as well as being informed on the merits of each expression on offer.

Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Founders Reserve c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

First up was the Irishman Founders Reserve. This is the standard blend of the Irishman range but it is no ordinary blend! It is a combination of single malt and single pot still with no grain whiskey in sight that gives it a lovely spicy palate characteristic of a single pot still expression. I really enjoyed this tipple.

Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com
Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com

This was followed up by the Irishman Single Malt which is very smooth and palatable – so much so I’ve a bottle at home already.

Irishman 12 yo c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman 12 year old c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

The Irishman 12 yo Single Malt was an even smoother more complex dram,

Irishman Cask c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Cask  Strength c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

and the Irishman Cask Strength certainly knocked the socks of me.

Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

To finish off there was the delightful Writer’s Tears blend. A popular expression – again with a single malt and single pot still mix which gives it a punchy palate.

I’ve tried a few of these whiskeys before and found them very agreeable – but never back to back. I must admit the Irishman Founders Reserve impressed me the most on this occasion. Good luck to all at Walsh Whiskey in building their new distillery in Co. Carlow, based on my tasting experience – they have a bright future.

The BORROWED element came in the form of the wedding venue – The London Irish Centre in Camden Square, London. During the course of the festivities I acquainted myself with the fine array of Irish whiskey behind the bar and introduced a fellow guest to the delights therein. It’s a pity the range of Irish craft beer on offer wasn’t also represented at the venue.

Two sampling trays together with tasting notes were duly despatched to our table which included;

Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Connemara Peated Single Malt. An Irish peated whiskey that has picked up many awards in it’s time and another fine  Kilbeggan/Cooley expression.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Green Spot. An historical Single Pot Still whiskey that is at the forefront of the rise in interest in Irish whiskey as well as being a survivor of a period when independent wine merchants bottled a distilleries spirit under their own label and specifications. A fine dram indeed.

Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Redbreast 12 yo. A smooth, oloroso finished single pot still that clearly shows why it has won awards upon sampling a dram and,

Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Crested Ten. A favourite tipple of mine at home. Crested Ten has the honour of being the first whiskey Jameson sold under it’s own label in 1963 as opposed to the route of selling to independent bottlers as shown by Green Spot above, It’s a blend of single pot still and grain whiskey with some ageing in sherry casks which give it a more complex finish than the standard Jameson blend. Well worth looking for.

In this taste off – Redbreast clearly shone through with it’s smooth and complex taste with a long finish.

Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

During the speeches a toast was raised to those absent from the ceremony. This constituted my BLUE element and what better to toast those departed than a shot of Wild Geese – a whiskey named after The Flight Of The Earls in 1607 but also to represent the long history of Irish emigration. Over 150 years ago the boats carrying people would have been the Irish fleeing famine across the Atlantic rather than Africans fleeing conflict in the Mediterranean today. I just wish that the compassion, care and help that Irish emigrants received then would be replicated for the modern day emigrants.

Wild Geese is another range coming out of the Kilbeggan/Cooley distillery and the dram I had proved to be a very smooth balanced dram. It’s a pity I don’t remember which expression it was but it came in a rectangular bottle so I’m guessing it was the Rare Blend release.

The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut
The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut

To wrap this blog up – what better than to toast the happy couple with a glass of Amrut Fusion whisky. A perfect blend of Indian and Scottish malts married together to create a very enjoyable and tasty dram.

Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut
Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut

Although Shazan is originally from India – the analogy falls with Paul as he isn’t from Scotland (although one of the guests was) – but nonetheless – their marriage is a perfect blend of two cultures coming together in unity.

To borrow from an Irish descendant, “May the road rise with you“.

Sláinte

Good Logo

A new Blog, a new Expression.

Why Whiskey?

Whiskey Glass c/o photobucket
Whiskey Glass c/o photobucket

Why not?

It’s a delightful aromatic , flavoursome little tipple to be enjoyed beside a warming fire with good company.

It has several hundred years of eventful history and culture with it’s birth roots in Ireland .

It’s a drink staging a renaissance on a worldwide basis with Ireland witnessing a rebirth of working distilleries.

Why Westmeath?

Kilbeggan Distillery

All journeys start from home and Westmeath is home to both this humble scribe and The Kilbeggan Distilling Company. 1757 is when this distillery first (legally) made and sold whiskey. From that date on, it has witnessed the ups and downs of Irish Whiskey, weathered the tough years and played it’s part in the current rise of whiskey. Kilbeggan Distillery encapsulates the history of Irish Whiskey within it’s four walls. Her story mirrors that of other distilleries that are now silent, as well as burgeoning the new ones that are beginning to find their voice.

existingandnew whiskey distilleries in Ireland

Why the World?

Production unit of Amrut Distilleries.24/01/2012
Production unit of Amrut Distilleries.24/01/2012

It’s the only place we humans currently live  – as yet – and it’s where Irish Whiskey is made, exported and enjoyed. Ireland used to be the Number 1 whiskey producer in the world. That position is now firmly in Scottish hands. However whisky is currently produced in over 25 countries around the world from Belguim to  Bhutan,  Taiwan and a lovely distillery in Wales.

Whiskey Nut

As a relatively new convert to the world of whiskey, I’m inviting you to join me on a shared journey in taste, style and aroma by sampling the wide range of whiskey products that are out there.

I’m no expert, but hopefully I will enliven your taste buds and excite your palate with tempting tipples

Join me and together we can taste the world!