*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
Where I grew up, we called the middle school, that young adult warehouse between elementary and high school, the Intermediate School. I remember very little of those two years: a strange and difficult research paper on Venezuela, daring food fights right under the mildly abusive principal’s nose, jump roping in gym class to Devo, Rush, and Journey, and the wonderful controlled danger of Mr. Poz’s science classes. Other than that, I’m sorry to say, it was just an awkward blur of seething hormones rendering all of us incapable of doing any kind of real learning. I guess that wasn’t the point, though, we were really there to get some pre-seasoning, a little taste of life beyond recess, so that when we were dropped into high school, we didn’t completely implode.
I’m sure Amrut had different reasons for sending their whisky to Intermediate Sherry for a while, after all, though we may anthropomorphize the stuff from time to time, whisky never passed out while trying to ask a girl to dance. Released in the latter half of 2010, this creative expression from the decorated Indian distillery spends its time in a different cask type not at the end as with most finishing but in the middle…intermediating, perhaps. The whisky was initially aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and new oak casks, then filled into ex-sherry butts for a time, and then re-filled back into the ex-bourbon and new oak. The idea was that, thanks to Bangalore’s slightly more dynamic climate than Scotland’s, the whisky matures more quickly and after its time in the sherry casks, finishing it off back in American oak allows the two wood influences to marry and integrate better.
The Nose: Wonderful, deep, Pedro Ximénez sherried nose. There are notes of fruity, young port, too, jammy with sugared cherries but also alot of soft bourbon-y vanilla and candied citrus…the two are very well-integrated. Behind that, nice “old library” notes of worn leather, polished oak, baking spices – cinnamon & clove, and faint tobacco and woody incense.
The Palate: Spicy, zingy entry with great swells of sherried oak notes and creamy vanilla up front. With the cask strength’s help, this grows insistently spicy, big numbing cinnamon, cloves, spiced orange, and anise. There’s the characteristic Amrut spicy dryness is there but it’s incorporated very well into the palate, not as overpowering as I’ve found it in other expressions.
The Finish: Longish and spicy, cinnamon, cardamom, fragrant, almost floral oak, vanilla bean and still subtle hints of tobacco.
Thoughts: Another beautiful whisky from India. It’s a tough choice for me between this and the Fusion, I give the nod to Fusion but just by a bit thanks to its added peaty complexity. This has truly wonderful fortified grape nose and the balanced, tempered abundance of the spices both on the nose and palate are not to be missed. Rich, integrated, somewhat familiar but also adventurous and bold. Definitely recommended.
Amrut Intermediate Sherry, India