Tuesday January 12, 2016
To have such a prestigious guest, Ashok Chokalingam from Amrut, visit our store is always an honour. And, despite such a long journey, we were not able to detect travel fatigue with Ashok at the helm. With great exuberance, he took the stage and the crowd in a flurry of hilarious and blunt comments about his whiskies, and make no mistake, these are Ashok’s whiskies. A fierce amount of pride goes into each of the bottlings and Ashok was very clear in telling the crowd “NO BULLSHIT!” and so instilling a breath of raw honesty when it came to talking about the whiskies we were about to try. Nothing was held back as Ashok provided heaps of in depth knowledge about the distillery, from operations, techniques and sources of materials. If you had a question, before you could breathe, he had a response. With such lively commentary, each whisky was a rollercoaster of passion and information
Here are a few tasting notes to accompany each one we tried.
To nose brings orchard fruits in yoghurt, delicate smoke peach bits and mango, papaya and pineapple. The palate totes a similar nature with a neat twist, producing something akin to smoky mango chutney finishing on red liquorice shoelaces and peach penguin candies. $76.99
With the addition of actual oranges to the barrels of maturing whisky one can imagine a unique character for this spirit. Starting with huge candied orange and ginger on the nose, it implies a density through scent bringing about a Christmas cake character but with only gelatinous citrus bits. An oily mouthfeel brings about a rich marmalade with lemon zest and floral nectar mixed in. $129.99
According to Ashok, there is no peat barley in this release, understandably so as there wouldn’t be much to speak of initial approach yet I couldn’t help but feel that there was a little sooty character in the background. From there a combination of walking through a weedy herb garden, apricot and a classic prelude to sweetness on the nose coming from the PX barrel. To taste brought cedar milk chocolate, nutty fudge, aloe vera and layers of baking spices the filling out any gaps. $115.99
A gorgeous sherry cask bourbon barrel combo bringing out the essentials of Spanish oak with raisins, dates, fig cakes all in a rich fruit sauce. Candied nuts follow, brown sauce soaked cigars, clove and an interesting character of freshly laundered linen sheets (a reminder of the first night at an upscale resort). Demerara notes come to mind from the palate coating the salty/sweet combo of the nuttiness with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. $109.99
Toffee and custard, white chocolate, yoghurt chips, bright barley sugars and lemon curd. Tastes of coconut shavings, vanilla and sweet nougat finishing with a sweet splash of that recurrent citrus. $80.99
Dark fruits much like the Intermediate sherry to start but with a dried twist as the fruit feels like it has been left in the sun for too long. Tannin and glosettes, old worked leather, blueberry fruit syrup from IHOP with a reminder of butter tarts near the end. A very well integrated port pipe, I can’t say that I say that very often. $127.99
Billowing smoke and freshly dug up earth, unfired red clay pottery and dashed almonds. The smoke dominates the nose for the first bit ebbing off into a display of stone fruit and wet hay. To taste evokes backyard B-B-Q and prairie wild fires with dry grass ablaze accompanied by smoky apricot leathers and dried nectarine bits eaten on a dusty mountain trail. $102.49
This was quite an amazing tasting and, to be frank, it couldn’t be any less with Ashok there to guide us along. His constant exciting commentary kept a brisk pace for the whiskies and give my own tastings a run for their money. I for one and I would say that I can speak for all in attendance that night, look forward to the next time Ashok is willing to take us on another whisky ride. Thank you again, my new found friend, and if you are reading this, I hope your travels take you somewhere warm and somewhere that requires less than two jackets.