By Rajeev Mokashi
May 20 marks World Whisky Day, and what better way than to celebrate the diversity and deliciousness of this “golden nectar?”
In all probability, the whisky world is growing bigger, larger, wider, and taller as the number of distilleries, regions, and countries producing grain spirit in one form or another gains momentum, as does the number of whisky embracers falling under its spell. Not one to be left behind, the Indian whisky revolution is claiming ground the world over.
Called “liquid sunshine” by George Bernard Shaw and referred to as “light music” falling into a glass by James Joyce, it’s not called ‘water of life’ for nothing. Whisky remains India’s most popular spirit, so go indulge.
A great many are those who have been inspired by the zest and aroma of whisky, especially single malts. While there’s never a dry moment to get together for a dram, World Whisky Day offers an even greater excuse to taste the glorious golden spirit in all its permutations and potential. TheGlitz has picked select Indian powerhouse single malts for you to buy, try, and feel high. Featuring four distinct but equally delicious expressions, from Rampur to GianChand, Kamet, and Indri-Trini. Even though the regions might not differ, each brings its own distinguished characteristics to the table.
From the stables of Radico Khaitan, one of the oldest distilleries, established in 1943, Rampur is a non-chill-filtered single malt, handcrafted and aged in the foothills of the Himalayas. Styled as “The Kohinoor of Single Malts”, take a ride, Speyside.
On the nose: This exquisite whisky bears fruity and spicy notes, with a hint of vanilla and caramel.
Tasting notes: Discover the aromas and flavours that reflect the essence of a long Indian summer with a long and rich finish.
What gives it the extra edge? Pleasantly flavorful at 43% ABV, Rampur captures many of the familiar traits of unpeated, aged single malts without needing an age statement.
Established in 1961, GianChand, the newest home-grown premium single malt has already made it to the Whisky Bible in 2022. Based in Jammu, 900 feet up in the foothills, close to the river Tawi in the Himalayan lap, the distillery in Bohri is as remote as it is unique. With over five decades of craftsmanship and history under their belt and winning accolades all over the world, this beloved third-generation distillery has flavour and technique down to an exact science. Cheers, Highlands!
On the nose: an elegant and delicate nose of brandy snaps and gingerbread, dried apricots, prunes, honeycomb toffee, hay, and sweet spice, with mild notes of peat and dry oak in the backend.
Tasting notes: a sweet, creamy start, delicate nutty honeycomb, a touch of salt, hints of dried ginger and fruits, quickly evolving into a dry, lightly tannic astringency with a pop of spice. Simple and smooth.
What gives it the extra edge? Charmingly light at 42.8% ABV, it is far more delicate and refined, with soft barley and spice taking different but vital paths with increasing complexity. Full justice to the price tag.
Mount Kamet is where it all began. The third-highest peak is located in Uttarakhand. Distilled in Kurukshetra using the famous six-row barley and irrigated by melting glacier water sourced from the foothills of the Himalayas, Kamet is aged in bourbon, wine, and sherry casks. This one’s a smasher.
On the nose: delivers a vinous, fruity profile with oaky, spicy notes. Complimented with vanilla, caramel, subtle raisins, and nutty and sweet dark chocolate to top it off.
Tasting notes: lively entry with vinous fruitiness and a spicy vibrancy. Vanilla notes exhibit a melted concoction of fresh and dried fruit notes. Subtle hints of oaky vanilla, spice, and dark chocolate linger in its depths.
What gives it the extra edge? Scintillating at 46% ABV Those ex-American Bourbon Oak, ex-French Wine Oak, and ex-Sherry casks give the single malt a stimulating touch. Add to it the non-chill filtering with no added colour.
Another show-stealer from the foothills of the Himalayas, Indri takes inspiration from the Sanskrit word Indris or Indriya, meaning senses. Made from indigenous six-row barley grown in Rajasthan, Indri is the first Indian whisky to be matured in three separate barrel types before blending, not barreled in sequence.
It’s a swell from start to finish, offering the right amount of oomph without being overpowering.
On the nose: Hints of black tea and caramelised pineapple with a whiff of oak come forward, followed by vanilla and honey from the bourbon oak and traces of spiced tannins from the European oak, finally topped with vinous raisin and sweet sherry notes. Very gentle and mellow.
Tasting notes: elegant richness, smoothness, and warmth on the sides of the mouth. Gentle spice and wood characters come through, followed by nutty flavours that linger in the throat.
What gives it the extra depth? Fulsomely-flavoured at 46% ABV, Indri, with its multiple maturations, adds extra oomph with a good fusion of spice and sweetness.
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