Have you ever tried Compass Box Orangerie? It is a refreshing infusion of blended whisky with the hand-zested peel of Navelina oranges, cassia bark and clove. Instead of going towards orange liqueurs with lots of sugar, it was staying on the dry side.
When I read about Amrut Naarangi, I expected it would be in the same style as Orangerie, but it follows a slightly different route (and the end result is totally different). Amrut filled casks with Oloroso sherry and added orange peels to them. This mixture was left to season the wood for over two years. Afterwards, three years old malt whisky was put in the casks and it was left to mature for an extra period of three years.
It’s an interesting strategy. Whisky regulations in Europe say that adding anything to a whisky disqualifies it from being called whisky, but this way the orange flavours can still be transferred into the spirit.
Only 900 bottles of Naarangi were shipped to Europe, Asia and Canada but we can expect new batches in the future.
Amrut Naarangi (50%, OB 2015, 900 btl.)
Nose: very sweet and aromatic, although it certainly shows less oranges than expected. Instead it’s more on dried fruits (apricots, figs) and Spanish membrillo. Then it moves towards (subtle) Triple Sec (of course) with lemon zest and light pepper. Blood orange juice and sawdust too.
Mouth: sweet (or rather sirupy) and spicy. Yes, more oranges now, both sweet juice and zesty notes. Pepper, hints of cloves, tangy oak.
Finish: long, with the syrupy notes holding strong but also a lot of oak spices and a hint of mint.
This is an interesting but fairly simple dram, slightly different from what we expected. The oranges are not taking the lead – instead you get a sherried dram with plenty of spices and hints of oranges. Of course orange notes are pretty ‘classic’ in the sense that they commonly occur in non-flavoured whisky as well. I wonder how this technique would work with something that’s really off the map. Cherries, passion fruits, star anise, you name it. Around € 60-80.