I can rarely remember a period when I have been more excited to introduce new whiskies to you. The standard of whisky internationally and at home in the UK is at an all time high. Today is no exception as yesterday I participated in a virtual tasting of the latest addition to the Indian single malt Whisky Premier League – Rampur. A tasting timed to celebrate the festival of Diwali.
Rampur is owned by Radico Khaitan, which was established in 1943 and is the largest Indian beverage company and also one of the oldest whisky distillers in India. Rampur Distillery has been distilling whisky for over 25 years and has a reputation for quality and innovation. Three of its distilleries are based in Uttar Pradesh in the foothills of the Himalayas, where all of Rampur’s Whiskies are distilled, matured and bottled.
The Himalaya provides polar opposite climate conditions throughout the year, which means that Indian whisky matures significantly more quickly than whiskies such as Scotch and Irish. As Rampur Distillery is situated at the foothills of The Himalaya, the cold winters and hot summers give their whiskies added dimension and produce single malts with depth of flavour which are smooth and mellow tasting with a long-lasting finish. Master Blender, Anup Barik, was born into a family of blenders and brings decades of expertise and perfection to the blending of these fine whiskies.
The tasting hosted by the President of International Business Radico Khaitan – Sanjeev Banga and Assistant Vice President of International Business Radico Khaitan – Kunal Madan, Head of International Sales Sanjeev Banga and Master Distiller Anup Barik, who all demonstrated considerable passion for their product and great expertise and desire for quality.
India is one of the world’s largest whisky markets with an increasingly expert and discerning single malt drinking demographic.
Whisky is widely enjoyed by millions of Indian citizens. It is a drink enjoyed by all strata of society. A market of many different quality and price points so large that Scotch only enjoys about a 1% market share but it remains Scotch’s 6th largest market. One in every two bottles of whisky bought around the world is now sold in India, and seven of the top ten global whisky brands are Indian. Growth of Scotch sales is large with a young affluent fan base emerging which is fuelling double digit growth rates annually. Of course Diageo own India’s United Spirit Distillers have about 45% of the Indian domestic market, Pernod Ricard a further 15%.
From a Scottish viewpoint, India offers huge sales potential and the more successful the domestic industry is both in India and internationally the greater the desire of fans to try other countries products.
These are serious whiskies. We start with the Select showcasing the core Rampur spirit. Already an award winning whisky Double Gold Medal in The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017.
Rampur Select ABV 43%
Nose: Mint toffee, grapes, banana, lychee, vanilla all more distinct with a drop of water, a lovely nose.
Palate : Tropical fruits, with lovely spices, apricot jam, medjool dates, pepper ,cinnamon, nutmeg then darker rather special undertones of leather and distinctive liquorice with tannins and oak.
I can understand why this won the double gold. A distinctive malt exuding taste and quality. It is different in a really good way. it is a sweet whisky, balanced and bursting with flavour.
This is non chill filtered but as a high selling expression a tiny amount of colouring is added to ensure consistency of appearance which is acceptable to me.
Rampur PX 45%ABV
Matured initially in American Oak casks then select ones finished in excellent Pedro Ximenez cask. The care and passion the distillers commit to cask selection is obvious in their description.
It is non chill filtered and natural colour. The former is vital and significant in the texture, mouthfeel and flavour.
The legs are slow and thick, the mouthfeel great reflecting the texture of the whisky. It is a lovely viscous spirit reflecting the significance of the non chill filtered approach. This is often dismissed as not impacting flavour clearly Rampur’s Master distiller Anup Barik, has harnessed everything that the long chain fatty acids have to contribute to flavour and texture.
Nose: This reminded me of sherry soaked berries getting prepared for Christmas cake baking coupled with mixed spice dried fruits and underpinned by lovely creamy toffee and golden syrup the aromas of my youth!
Palate: Spicy note, nutmeg, nutmeg, cinnamon, jammy berries fig and prune undertone just a hint of buttered toast all emerge from a multi-layered well balanced whisky.
Rampur Double Cask 45% ABV
The Double Cask epitomises the care and experience the Master distiller Anup Barik, has brought with the expressions built around the Rampur spirit. The whisky is matured 2/3 in American Oak Bourbon casks 1/3 in European Oak Sherry cask all carefully selected.
I loved this very drinkable whisky. Non chill filtered and natural colour.
Nose: I instantly was reminded of country walk smelling the bright fresh smell of rose hips, rose Turkish delight, mango, vanilla lychees then light freshly sawn oak a lovely balance of fruit and oak well controlled with a malty aroma.
Palate: Lovely complexity both spicy and fruity with that lovely sweet bread and panecotta, vanilla, black berries, dark chocolate, highland toffee, spices cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco, fruit pastels, a fresh tea note. It is a whisky for drinking and is superbly moreish, not quite as sweet as the Select but unmistakably Rampur.
Oily mouthfeel, wonderful texture complex tasty whisky. A nice heat on the finish like mild chilli peppers (peppadew) adding to the sweet fruity spicy notes it lingers well great structure
Wonderful texture complex tasty whisky
We finally sample the Asava a whisky the Rampur team are justifiably very proud of. Matured first in American Oak Bourbon cask then finished in Indian Cabernet Sauvignon wine casks. These hand picked casks came from an excellent winery.
What a great colour dark amber with the merest hint of red. It is non chill filtered natural colour.
Nose: Black cherries, lychees, plums sweet jammy note, a hint of milk chocolate with oak notes.
Palate: Red wine tannins, great spicing, peaches and cream, beautiful cigar tobacco note massive complex flavour a nice phenol hint of cherry tunes.
Finish : Long with tea notes a touch of dark chocolate.
Lovely slow sipping dram, I can imagine sipping this on the verandah as the sun goes down a dram that draws much from its Indian heritage. It is more subtle than the other expressions but more complex and balanced to my palate.
Well integrated wine notes provide a brilliantly crafted world class whisky. Too many wine finished whiskies only create a veneer of wine influence a thin hint of wine on the surface but this Rampur is completely integrated in both aroma and palate.
Once again the taste is well supported by non chill filtration which for me forms a strong underpinning to the Rampur style which is great.
I loved every one of these expressions but the Asava and the Select were truly exceptional, the Double Cask was great the PX excellent. These are world class whiskies.
Great whiskies with a very distinctive lychee/ rose over tones fig prune undertones non chill filled means spectacular oily legs great texture and mouthfeel the distinctive Rampur brand these guys love their whisky. If you are a whisky fan these are whiskies that you really must try distinctive and lovely aromas and flavours that you will remember once sampled.
Thank to Rampur for inviting me to the tasting and for the lovely tasting set.