Vat 69 Black – Blended Scotch Whisky – Review


Sitting at the comfort of home, with a rare luxury of cool and rainy weather in Chennai is definitely a moment to savor. A drink with your old man appreciating the setting with the right whisky and just sit back and relax is truly priceless.

Vat 69 (Regular) has always been a preferred brand of choice of my old man. He likes to keep it classy within a small brotherhood of his trusted whiskies namely the Johnnie Walker Black Label, Double Black, Red Label, Black Dog, Chivas Regal 12 years old and Vat 69 (Regular). A new entry in his trusted catalog did excite him and he wanted to give it a shot. Enter Vat 69 Black.

Moving on to the tasting notes:

Nose: First sniff reminded me of JW Black Label but with a sweeter twist, on careful observation it revealed flavors of a balanced malt with wisps of vanilla and honey

Taste: Smooth malt with a gentle dash of peat (Not too sharp though) with a polished touch of honey seasoned with hints of vanilla

Finish: Light, Smooth with an elegant peaty after taste. Medium not a warm finish.

This was a good find at Rs. 2200 – 2300/ 750 ml (Bengaluru  price). It is value for money and I would definitely recommend this.

Nikka Taketsuru – 12 years old – Japanese Pure Malt – Review


 

 

Japanese products have always exemplified efficiency, quality and elegance. But, when I heard of Japanese Single Malt Whisky,  Yamazaki beating the likes of many prominent scotch whisky, I was surprised. I was eager to get my hands on a decent Japanese whisky and try it first hand and see what the fuss was about. Thanks to RM, I got my hands on the Nikka – Taketsuru – 12 years old,  Pure Malt Whisky. Not to be confused with single malt. Pure malts also known as vatted malt or blended malt is a blend of various single malt whiskies.

Now being my first Japanese whisky I didn’t really know what to expect from it. But, I was glad that I dived in for this experience without any expectations and biases. Nikka Taketsuru is a brilliant whisky. It is a beautiful blend of exceptional quality and elegance. It is an excellent full bodied whisky and manages to keep its intense flavor with silk like smoothness.

Moving on to the tasting notes.

Nose: Soft flavors of vanilla, malt, apples (similar to glenfiddich 18) mild wisps of chili and bursts of smoke/peat

Taste: smooth, silky and light texture (not as light as triple distilled whisky), flavors of malt, vanilla, apples and bursts of peat/smoke.

Finish:  medium, smooth with an aftermath of light peatish burn.

This is a highly recommended whisky. Unfortunately, if the information I have is right, it has been discontinued. But, there is still some stock circulating in the market.

The Language Conundrum


The inspiration for this post is primarily a conversation that I had with a good friend while swatting mosquitoes in a power-less night in Bangalore. The motivation for typing it down was purely due to insomnia triggered by slightly eccentric dosage of coffee. Now I must proclaim a disclaimer – the views that I am about to present are my own and if it does irk anyone the wrong way, I would urge them to consider it as a breeze of irrelevant words.

Being a Gujarati, born in Hyderabad brought up in Chennai with a brief stint in US and currently working in Bangalore, I have been fortunate to have been exposed to many languages. I was rather forced by my situation and upbringing to learn multiple languages. English being a globally accepted language for communication had to be learnt. Gujarati being my mother tongue had to be learnt at least for fluent conversation, if not master the script. Hindi being an easier choice of second language in school was further shoved down (Not that I am still super good at it). Finally, being a chennaite, I just had to learn Tamil the local language. The only language which I tried to learn out of sheer curiosity was Spanish. I would just say that it has a very very long way to go for any practical use. I wouldn’t call myself expert in any of the languages I am familiar with. Hence, being a ‘Gujju nadu’ I would say I can fulfill my purpose of communication in a very broad scale. Despite this language barrier is an amusing issue that I still face.

For a country as diverse as India, this seems to be a common problem for people who move away from their hometown for work, education, business etc. In the face of change, choosing a path of maximum convenience has always been the tendency of human nature. This is very strongly evident in the case of choice of language too. What seems like a simple projection takes an interesting turn when the cultural diversity and misplaced pride takes center stage and punches out purpose to the corner. Language barrier which is generally considered an inter-country topic is very much a intra-country issue in India!

Let me elucidate this. For a North Indian (NI) who is not conversant in Tamil/English, moving in to a city like Chennai which typically does not follow much of Hindi is going to have a hell of a communication barrier. Similar situation would be faced by a South Indian (SI) who is not conversant in Hindi/English and is moving in to a city like Mumbai or Delhi. A flash point in this context usually refers to each pointing the other to learn/converse in a language one is conversant in respectively. Unfortunately, the whole problem turns chicken and egg due to the exclusivity of their choices. The common perception each shares is that easing of ones language choice resonates to relaxation of ones cultural adherence. In some extreme cases this is considered as a blow to ones identity. This directly fuels pride and leads to the sentiment of “Why should I learn this language ?” This sentiment further fosters propaganda elements which disrupts the flow of rational thought process. What started as a mere communication barrier has now lead to in-efficiencies across different domains of work/purpose. Now, I certainly respect the deep and well established ties that language bears with culture. But, the sense of practicality pushes me to the following thought: I believe that it would be beneficial for the migrant to learn the local language of the place which he is moving to. It may not be necessary depending on the place he is moving to. If a NI moves to Chennai, it would be necessary for him to learn Tamil. But, if he moves to Bangalore it may be beneficial for him to know Kannada but not absolutely necessary.

The convoluted nature of this issue, has lead many to propose for a common language. Again this solution leans more to convenience than to practicality. I believe very strongly that a country’s perspective on an issue must justify to the foundations on which it was built upon. In case of India, the country was built upon the foundations of harmonious co-existence of various cultures, the idea of a common language would be completely negating this fundamental perspective. But, that being said the convenience of a common language is highly appealing. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for a place to keep both the local language and a globally accepted language in equal footing. Expecting it to bear open arms to other local languages although is well appreciated, but still would be an overreaching ideal. At the end of the day, one must put aside the misplaced pride accept the fact that it is all about communicating effectively to attain an objective. While, preserving and passing down ones culture and language is important, one’s pride for his language must not blind him of its very purpose.

Amrut Peated Indian Single Malt Whisky – Review


This was a long pending post. It had been sitting in my drafts for months. Finally, I got the determination to make a post out of it. With  ‘Amrut Peated Indian Single Malt Whisky’ , I complete the Amrut Trilogy available in Indian Market (Bangalore in my case) . I must say, I am torn between Fusion and Peated Indian Single Malt. Fusion is good and has a bolder character, but, the Peated Indian single malt is just my kind of drink. The balance of the whisky is spot on to my preferences. The crunchy peat flavor is a major turn on.

Without much further ado, let me move on to the tasting notes.

Nose: crisp punch of peat and oak, with wisps of vanilla coupled sweetness of honey

Taste : Crunchy flavor of peat and balanced spread of malt with a fruity twist.

Finish : peat flavored warmness, with a sweet and spicy ping-back.

I got a sense of fulfillment when I finished the Amrut Trilogy and I guess there was a serendipity factor involved in saving the best for the end. 🙂

Until more expressions come out in the Indian market, I will be making Amrut Peated Indian Single Malt a regular in my collection along with Jameson.

Glenkinchie 12 years old – Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Review


 

The Glenkinchie 12 years old – Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one finest spirits I had got as a gift. Thanks GGR 🙂 This wonderful whisky had been on my radar for quite some time along with AnCnoc 12 years old, Tamdhu 10 years old, BenRiach 12 years old, Glenfarclas 105 and Cragganmore 12 years old.

Moving on to the tasting notes.

Nose: light, fragrant almost floral nutty sweetness

Taste: beautiful butter like mellowed sweetness of malt, peat. Hints of nuts (Walnut i guess) and fruits in a mildly crafted blend of perfection.

Finish: delightfully light warmness, with a ping back of mellowed peat and mild burnt oak.

Its a mild single malt with soothing flavors. Nothing very distinctive or sharp. The experience made me think of some buttered mellowness (I dunno why). Great company when you want to just sit back and relax and when you don’t want to set your taste buds on an adventure 🙂

Tip: try it neat, with cheese and small pineapple slices for accompaniments.

Amrut – Indian Single Malt Whisky – Review


Amrut - Indian Single Malt Whisky

 

It’s been quite some time since I posted something in my blog. Incidentally, my last activity was my review about the ever charming Amrut – Fusion. I felt it was symbolic and fitting to rev up my blog action right from where I left it and hence decided to write a long pending review of another jewel from the Amrut catalog – Amrut – Indian Single Malt Whisky. For people who need bit of an introduction about Amrut and its various expressions, please check my Amrut Fusion post and for more curious readers here is a link to their official website.

After tasting Fusion, it would be natural for any whisky lover to explore the other expressions of Amrut. I got my hands on Amrut – Indian Single Malt Whisky for a couple of times. But, I still couldn’t get my hands on the Amrut – Peated Indian Single Malt Whisky. This says two things, one the Amrut stocks are getting sold pretty damn fast in Bengaluru and many Indians are finally exploring the world of single malt whisky.

Anyway, without further ado, let me move on to the subject of my post.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Beautifully blended balance of sweetness and oak. Notes of honey, mild hints of blend of coffee and malt (Toffee I guess)

Palate: smooth combination of honey and barley (kind of bourbon-like feel). Rich flavors of oak and a distinct feel of spiciness. Very well rounded whisky.

Finish:  Long spicy oak warmness, with a ping back of balanced spicy sweetness.

This whisky is not a mild flavored one. But, I feel its not too sharp  on the palate. Experienced Whisky lovers can have a go at it neat with a smile. A couple of rocks wouldn’t be a bad idea for those who prefer their drink cool.

I said it before and I will say it again. Amrut proves again – “Good whisky can come from anywhere”.

I would like to conclude by saying : Amrut – Indian Single Malt Whisky – is a good blend of perfection and interesting flavors, leaving a simple yet a commanding impression about it.

Amrut Fusion – Indian – Single Malt Whisky – Review


Amrut Fusion Indian Single Malt Whisky

NOTE: I have updated the post regarding the availability and new additions of the Amrut catalogue in the Indian Market, Thanks to the official Amrut folks from twitter ! 

I wanted to have a go at “Amrut” range of whiskies, for nearly a year now . The main reason was that, it is an INDIAN single malt, most Indian whiskies are pretty harsh, but this one had won many international awards. It got me all curious when I later found out that Jim Murray (an esteemed scotch expert) rated it as the ‘Third’ Finest Whisky in the World for his 2010 Whisky Bible.

But, my quest for getting my hands on Amrut had been long, mainly because it has a very limited production. In India, initially it was sold only in Karnataka, but now its available in Mumbai and Goa too. Internationally, its available in selected outlets in US, UK, Australia and South Africa. I have read that the brand has now spread across Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries too. To add to the ordeal, it is difficult to get hold of this beauty even in Bangalore, as apparently it gets sold out very very fast ! I had to check up 3 liquor stores before I could get my hands on one single bottle of Amrut Fusion. The store person (where I got it from) later confided that major of its stocks had got sold out in a week and he has just couple of bottles left, hence he didn’t really keep it in display and saved it for customers who asked for it specifically. I was really glad he did that 🙂

Before, I go on to the tasting notes, I wish to list out the products in its range, as not many people even in India know about the existence of this awesome whisky.

  • Amrut Fusion – Single Malt Whisky : 50% International variant,  46% Indian Variant.
  • Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky 46% (same for Indian variant too)
  • Amrut Peated Indian Single Malt Whisky 46%
  •  Amrut Cask Strength
  • Amrut Peated Indian Single Malt Whisky Cask Strength

Limited Editions 

  • Amrut Portonova
  • Amrut Single Cask
  • Amrut 100
  • Amrut Kadambam
  • Amrut Greedy angles
  • Amrut Intermediate Sherry
  • Amrut Two Continents Single Malt Whisky

Amrut’s Cask Strength versions have higher alcoholic content. Amrut Distilleries does not state the age of its single malts on the bottles because the company fears that consumers who do not know about the brand or the faster maturation process in India, would mistake it for a young whisky, and not be willing to pay a higher price.

The Amrut Fusion, Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky and Amrut Peated Single Malt Whisky (recently added) are available in the Indian Markets.

Tasting Notes 

Nose : Sweet, fruity, bit oily honey, mild freshness of mint and pleasant floral notes, very very mild peat

Palate:  great fusion of sweet fruits, Vanilla, Chocolate, peat with a spicy kickback towards the end. Well balanced and smooth.

Finish : medium  – long, Pleasant sweetness with a seductively spicy kickback, mildly warming towards the end.

It is an excellent whisky ! Probably the only one which can kick my personal best Cardhu 12.

It’s a must  try and is best enjoyed on the rocks. Amrut proves a very important point, good whiskies can come from anywhere 🙂