Water of Life – Amrut Naarangi and Kadhambam
I have always had a weak spot for sludge metal from New Orleans and Down’s “Bury me in smoke” is a song that we have done a cover version of, however, in a bid to pay homage to my weak spot for liquid emissions coming from Islay, I changed the lyrical content to culminate in “Bury me in peat”.
Over the course of our series, I have covered quite a few heavyweights from the realm of smoky and peaty whiskies, Ardbeg and Bruichladdich being some of my favourites. I am a simple man and my appreciation for a distillery is usually growing in direct proportion to the time the barley grain is exposed to the pungent peat smoke during drying.
Then there are distilleries with expressions whose peated expressions are of a fulminant calibration that triggered the development of a new appreciation for what can be achieved if it is approached in a subtler manner.
Their peated expression has become one of my favourites, which transitioned into an appreciation for their unpeated varieties as well – an interest that triggered me to dig deeper.
Amrut’s Kadhambam is sourced from a melange of regular and peated whiskies, which have matured in a variety of cask, e.g. ex-oloroso, rum and brandy – a fact that is not further wondrous as the etymology of the name leads us to what this expression is in its essence: A mixture and one that is extremely delicious.
The peat is very subtle on the nose and substantiated by oak and vanilla, resting on a bed of honey. What materializes on the top of the roof is spicy with highlights of cinnamon and a not too overwhelming sweetness before the elongated finish leaves me smacking my lips lusting for more of the smoky tobacco finale.
The mouthfeel was easy, but toward the back of the tongue. The finish was smoky, spicy, with cinnamon and nutmeg, and a touch of fruit-sweetness as it faded to tobacco at the end.
I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about the Kadhambam and how much of an experiment it was. Upon tasting, I came to the conclusion that Amrut head distillers must have known exactly what they were going for as the Kadhambam hits the spot in a manner than cannot simply be the result of an experiment. A superbly composed dram that can be had at all times of day.
Another Amrut expression I recently tried is the Naarangi. Now, this one sounded much more exotic to me than the Kadhambam as apparently orange peels are added to the mix before being left to season and further maturation. Again, Amrut is not beating around the bush with “naarangi” meaning exactly that in Hindi, i.e. “orange”.
Not surprisingly, the nose is characterised by fruity nuances but also peppery bits as well a hint of more earthy and oaky notes.
On the palate, sweetness is of course – as one would expect – a dominant forces, however, it is well calibrated and is flanked by chili, chocolate, vanilla and, again, a pleasant oakiness. There is a seamless transition to the warming finish, with orange being the driver yet with pepper and tannins make an appearance as well to round out the picture.
Both the Kadhambam and Naarangi expressions are the outcome of exercises in distilling elegance and enrich the portfolio of a distillery that has yet to emit an expression that underwhelms.
image from company website