Water of Life - Rampur
The uninitiated seem to be surprised when one raves about the fantastic whiskies emanating from the subcontinent, however, the connoisseurs know that India is home to distilleries that consistently push the boundaries of what is thought possibly when it comes to the refinement of excellent drop.
Enter Rampur Indian Single Malt, the parent distillery of which has honed its alchemy of distilling been since the early 1940s and whose portfolio includes a selection of rums, vodka and gins.
Rampur’s unique location, i.e. the Uttar Pradesh region in Northern India is close to the Himalayas and the resulting extremes of climate that come with the territory add an x-factor to the complexity of its whiskies as it speeds up the aging process.
Needless to say that I was intrigued and had to explore what Rampur makes of its locally grown six-row barley that is distilled in its traditional copper pot stills.
Medium amber in colour, stating that the Rampur Select expression’s aromas are fruity would be an understatement par excellence – a varied bouquet of honeyed cherries tickle the nostrils with highlights of orange, papayas and dried pears.
What the nose promised seamlessly extends to the palate in the creamiest of manners, with the papaya nuances being enriched by highlights of vanilla, marmalade, eucalyptus, spicy clove and floral notes that are backed by a woody oakyness and bits of malty cocoa.
The elongated finish bookends the experience by turning the volume up on the spicy notes, adding nutmeg and rosemary flavours to the mix, while continuing to riff on the aforementioned fruity and herbal notes.
Clocking in at 43% ABV, Rampur entry level Select is a balanced and flavourfully aromatic expression, which in some aspects I find to be reminiscent of some Japanese whiskies.
Rampur’s Double Cask Indian Single Malt takes things up a few notches – not surprisingly as not unlike the name suggests, it is aged in a mix of bourbon barrels and sherry casks, with the common denominator that there is again no age statement included.
On the nose, again a fruit basket unfolds its array of tones, ranging from stone fruits to apricot notes, which is amplified by the Sherry cask maturation.
The transition to the palate is as seamless as can be as the top of the mouth finds itself engulfed in swirls of fruity highlights, spicy notes from the European oak based on a foundation of earthy grains and slight hints of ethanol and vermouth.
For many, the subcontinent is the hotbed for gin, given specifically the influx of British soldiers and their endeavours to combat malaria by ingesting the juniper spirit mixed with tonic, however, traditionally India is not exactly known for being the home of too many gin distilleries.
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin is the product of Rampur’s home distillery Radico Khaitan. Clocking in at 43% ABV, the triple distilled spirit is infused with Indian botanicals among which Darjeeling green tea leaves leave a distinct impression, backed by zesty lemongrass, coriander and cubeb pepper berries – with juniper interestingly enough not being a listed part of the equation at all. This very fact adds an interesting layer as instead of what would expect in terms of gin aromas, lime, orangey and lemony notes are dominant.
On the top of the mouth, the lime-lemon dominance continues, accentuated by a hint of peppery spice and a slight berry fruitiness.
The medium finish reverberates with a light sweetness that rest on a bed of floral notes, which makes it an interestingly drinking experience that not a lot of other stereotypical gins offer.
Glad I finally got to experience Rampur in all its glory, which took a bit longer than expected as it appears that currently a new distribution arrangement needs to be put in place for Oceania.
Given the quality of the distillery’s drops, I am confident that this will be rectified soon as whisky connoisseurs would feel deprived not having access to this nectar.