Rye is a fickle grain to work with, so much so that many distillers outside the United States and Canada just don’t even bother with it. Indeed, you can name the expressions of world rye whisky using just your hand. One hand, so you don’t even have to put your drink down.
Enter Amrut, who since getting into serious single malt distillation, have been pushing the boundaries with interesting releases (like the fabulous Spectrum – see here). This is their first, and very successful, foray into rye distillation. It’s a five year old, distilled from European rye, and since it’s made from 100% malted rye, calling it a “Single Malt” is technically correct. The five year maturation was done in American oak casks.
I had this expression at our MMI – Malt Mongers Israel whisky club’s April meeting. I was sitting next to Liat, a young mixologist who will soon be taking her talents to New Orleans, and she was really taken by this as a basis for an old fashioned, saying that it would “make it rock”. I agree. I think this rye has an “in your face” boldness that would make whisk(e)y cocktails sing. The drawback, of course, is the pricetag (around 160 EUR/GBP).
Amrut Rye Single Malt Whisky (50% ABV)
Appearance: Glowing orange, quick and thin legs.
Nose: Clearly rye, with spices and marshmallow, reminiscent of the American ryes. Very sweet nose, with cereal and a hint of freshly cut leaves with floral notes.
Palate: Rough around the edges, heftily bitter, orange peel, pepper.
Linger: Pepper and orange inner peel, very spicy and warm around the sides of the tongue and cheeks.
Were it not for the price tag, this would be a total hit with mixologists. It’s everything you’re looking for in a cocktail. However, given the roughness and price tag, this won’t become your go to rye.