Amrut – India’s pride

Amrut, the internationally acclaimed Indian whisky is the brainchild of N.R. Jagdale, who inherited a distillery from his father and set out to go beyond low-priced liquor, which is still the bread-and-butter product for most Indian companies.

Amrut had been making malt whisky (from grain) for years and blending it with other whisky to create blends. But from the 1990s onwards, when Seagram’s, United Distillers and other big liquor names of that era entered the market and started importing blended Scotch, Indian preferences changed to lighter, lower-malt whiskies. So Amrut changed the formulas for its own whiskies, as nobody seemed to want too much malt.

The malts kept collecting in Amrut’s distillery until Jagdale had the idea of bottling them as a single malt. He sent his son, who was studying in Britain, to pubs in Scotland to ask what they thought of the whisky. The response was nearly always the same. People loved the whisky till they discovered it came from India. At that stage, they lost interest. Then Jagdale, along with Ashok Chokalingam who was at university with the younger Jagdale and joined the company once the malt was launched, had no success in selling their whisky for three years. Later, in a scene straight out of an Indian film, they gathered by the Mahatma Gandhi statue in central London to decide what to do next. Perhaps inspired by the Mahatma’s spirit, they decided to make one last stab.

Fortunately, whisky experts started appreciating their product and bit by bit, the Scots came around. One Amrut brand was even launched in Scotland. Senior Jagdale had always been proud of his basic whisky but he had also begun to import peat to create a smoky, peaty whisky. Then one day, sitting at his vacation home in Ooty, he had an idea: why not combine the two? He did and the new blend, Amrut Fusion, with its balance of regular single malt and peated malt became Amrut’s signature whisky.

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