Finally I’m getting pen to paper so to speak, after promising the rest of this review some time ago. Last week was extremely rough, and this week has been a blur. I find myself in China, about to return home, and running on the last fumes of my energy after multiple flights, countless hours on the road, and a bit of business thrown in for good measure. I’ll try to make some sense nonetheless.
Amrut Fusion derives its name from the malted barley that is used in its mashbill. A portion of it is sourced from Scotland and the remainder is local, from the foothills of the Himalayas, thus a “fusion” of West and East. The former is peated, and this is evident in the flavour, which exhibits a delicious, fragrant, gentle smoke. I’ve tried to establish the origin of this malt but there’s no specific information about it. It’s a personal gripe of mine that whisky makers are often purposefully vague if not altogether evasive when releasing specifications about their product. But more on this some other time (soon). The best I can do is hazard the guess that the malt comes from an inland source – I couldn’t pick up any of the notes indicative of coastal peat.
The ingredients are a notable feature, but despite the name billing they’re strictly support cast. The ageing process is what’s creating the buzz around this product. Fusion is 5 years matured but tastes like a whisky far better and longer acquainted with a cask. Some punters have even suggested that it’s equivalent in maturity to an 18yo whisky. I’m not sure how one would go about coming to such a specific conclusion, but it makes the point. Fusion has a complexity that’s typically only found in whiskies more advanced in years; it’s a prodigy. This unusual occurrence is due to the prevailing climate (at altitude in Bangalore, where the distillery is located) which is hot and dry pretty much year round, thereby accelerating maturation.
This may seem like a boon, and in this case there’s no doubt that it is, but it does comes at a cost and with some risk. Evaporation is far higher than in Scotland, so annual losses are significant. It’s also all too easy to overcook the whisky. Leave it a few months too long and it’ll likely become excessively wooded.
Amrut however has graciously paid the angels their due and walked the fine line with great poise. It is simply beautifully balanced. Smoke, biscuity malt, barley fruitiness, and toffee – they’re all swirling around in there, alternately brash and subtle, jostling boisterously for position one moment, in an orderly line the next. Fusion is clearly Scotch inspired but also somehow not Scotch. And through it all there’s only the faintest hint of oak – the turbo charged maturation clearly evident, but felt and not “seen”, like gravity, ever present and holding everything together.
This whisky has a certain individuality of style that’s perceptible yet difficult to describe. Perhaps, and hopefully, it is the birth of something wonderful, of the chosen one that will bring balance to the force and lead the world’s largest whisky-loving nation into the fold. I’ll drink to that…as soon as I get back to my remaining half-bottle that is.
My flight is boarding, home beckons, so farewell for now. Until the next time may the dram be with you.