First Impressions of Singleton 12 and Amrut Fusion

amrutA malt mate of mine, Peaty Paterson, sent me two 50ml plastic bottles of single malt that were poured from regular sized bottles, both unfortunately poured from the bottom of the bottles, which means the whiskies in the sample bottles were bereft of the fresh aromas and flavours that usually accompany a newly opened bottle. Sampling the heavily oxidized dregs at the bottom of the bottle is not a fair way to sample any single malt. Pouring the single malt into plastic bottles instead of glass doesn’t help either. But that’s what I’ve got, so bear with me…

First up is the Singleton 12 (of Glendullan) bottled at 40% alc. First impression: Nothing special. Not much complexity. Too bad it’s so oxidized. This sample tastes old and a bit flat. If I stick my nose deep in the glass, I pick up some sherry and citrus, a distant similarity to Aberfeldy 12 but not as smooth or rich. Not much happening in the palate or the finish. No exceptional smoke or peat. For complexity, it’s in the Glenlivet 12 territory but I’d probably think better of it if I wasn’t tasting the bottom of the bottle. Judging from this first impression, even though the sampling isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t seek it out.

Moving on to bottle #2: Amrut Fusion, a single malt whisky from India bottled at 50% alc. What the hell is that on the nose? I imagine it would pack a punch if the sample was taken near the top of the bottle. What a shame. An odd mix of beef barley soup and flowers. Maybe oak? None of the rounded sweetness I get from sherry, but not harsh. It’s sharp on the tongue but it doesn’t burn. I don’t know what I’m tasting. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate and cognac? A spicey but smooth finish. Lingers on the tongue. It just stays there and then takes on a roasted chestnut flavour. A splash of water opens up the nose, more floral, still nutty, smooth spice. Gets better in the glass after 15 or 20 minutes, more rounded sensations. I wouldn’t pay top dollar for Amrut Fusion just yet, but I like it.

NOV. 18/13: I picked up a bottle of Amrut Fusion a while back and it’s not as smooth or as complex as the dram I first sampled. It’s not bad, but even after getting half way down the bottle, it doesn’t seem to have the same barley soup and roasted chestnut flavour I noticed before. At 50% alcohol, perhaps I need to keep the bottle uncorked for a couple hours to mellow it out. I’ve tried it with varying amounts of water and I can’t get it to open up much. Strange and disappointing.

JAN. 30/15: I had some more Amrut Fusion last night. It still seems to lack the barely soup flavour it had the first time I tried it, but it’s not as disappointing as it was before. I added more water this time and left it for about ten minutes to open up. The nose was almost like apple cider. Although it lacked complexity, the flavour was slightly sweet and smooth. It’s a quality single malt.

Lagavulin 16, a Significant Drop in Quality

lagavulinAt first I thought my taste buds were changing, that for whatever reason my palate was no longer sensitive to the aromas and flavours of smoke and peat. I’ve recently acquired an unexpected and entirely pleasant appreciation for non-peaty, sherry influenced Highland and Speyside single malts, so temporarily losing a preference for peat in my scotches seemed reasonable. The earthy Islay scotches were my first love and have been my preferred scotches for years, especially Lagavulin 16 which I recently referred to as the king of kings and the holiest of holies, the earthiest, peatiest, smokiest of scotches, smooth and warm. But not anymore. I’m not sure what’s happened to Lagavulin 16 in recent years, but it’s not good.

I picked up a bottle of Lagavulin 16 a couple months ago that I would not have recognized as Lagavulin if it was given to me blind. It tasted like the bottle had been left open for a month and the scotch slightly diluted. It didn’t have the big blast of smoke and peat that I’ve come to expect from Lagavulin 16. The finish seemed weak, not at all complex, none of the delayed warmth and peatiness rising up that I’ve experienced every time from Lagavulin 16 in the past. For the first time since I discovered single malt scotch, I’m disappointed with Lagavulin 16.

A nice dram of it will open up after a while with a small splash of water, but even then it’s nowhere near as smooth and warm as it used to be. It even burns a bit and Lagavulin 16 never used to burn. I’m not sure if I got a bad batch, but from what I can gather from other comments on whiskey forums, Lagavulin 16 has dropped significantly in quality in recent years. If the bottle I have is any indication, current bottlings of Lagavulin 16 should be avoided. It’s not what used to be and it’s certainly not worth the price they’re asking ($101 at my local store).

I’ll have to get my peat fix from Laphroaig and Ardbeg for now on.