Putting a new spin on the tired trend of Cask Finishing, this Indian whisky is a real treat to taste

Putting a new spin on the tired trend of Cask Finishing, this Indian whisky is a real treat to taste
Courtesy of The Meade Mull

A new method of finishing whisky was created by the Indian distillery Amrut.

The cask finish treatment is increasingly being applied to new whiskey releases these days. For those unfamiliar with it, it involves storing the whiskey in another barrel for a brief or sometimes lengthy secondary maturation period. Almost every type of whiskey from every country is finished in barrels containing rum, sherry, wine, tequila, mezcal, beer and vermouth.

Some of these are quite good, but what if you wanted to finish your whiskey in a bunch of different types of barrels? Many of them are pretty good, but what if you wanted to finish your whiskey in a bunch of different kinds of barrels? Amrut Distilleries' Spectrum 004 single malt did exactly that. They built barrels using staves from a variety of casks and aged their whiskey in them.

It was first matured in ex-bourbon barrels for this second 004 release, and then finished in barrels made of a combination of four types of staves: new American oak, lightly toasted new French oak, ex-Oloroso sherry barrel, and ex-PX sherry barrel. 

Using equal proportions of all of these staves, the whiskey is able to pick up on all of the flavor and characteristics associated with the different types of casks simultaneously, and no one note dominates the whiskey. From the spice of virgin oak to the deep dried fruit and raisin notes of PX sherry-seasoned wood, each type of wood is supposed to impart a unique taste to the palate.

There is a rich, deep, syrupy reddish brown color to the wine, and initially the nose reveals notes of figs and cherry syrup from herrry casks. A tingling spice opens the palate, followed by flavors of orange, vanilla custard, raspberry jam, and tannic oaks, which almost approach menthol on the palate. It finishes with a nice warming sensation that lasts for a few seconds before dissipating. Though I had hoped for a cask strength whiskey, this 50 percent proof works well for me.

Despite being around for more than half a century, Amrut has only been producing single malt whiskeys in the world for about a decade now, and they represent a relatively small percentage of the company's total sales and product lines. Over the years, the Amrut single malt whiskeys have been among the most critical whiskeys of the time, and this new whiskey proves why. Clearly, the climate in India is much hotter than the climate in Scotland, and this is probably the closest comparison point for this style of whiskey.

According to Amrut's master blender, three years in Scotland equal one year in India, so these are generally younger whiskies, but it's hard to pinpoint the flavor.

A single malt that has been finished in custom-built barrels could ultimately be considered a selling point or gimmick. It would take one to compare this with a whiskey that has been traditionally finished in separate barrels in order to truly see the difference. Spectrum 004 is limited to just 6,000 bottles, of which 1,050 are available in the United States. Regardless, the flavor of this whisky does not seem inauthentic. You won't be disappointed if you do find one and are willing to pay two or three times the asking price of $195.

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