My eagerness to try Amrut’s Portonova expression came about a few years ago during Whisky Live Boston when Raj Sabharwal, Importer of World Whisky and Spirits, decanted a generous sample of ‘Intermediate Sherry’ into my glass. I had savored expressions of Amrut previously, but to me, nothing quite as pleasing to the palate. That was the moment I really fell in love with this Bangalore distillery.
After that, I immediately began searching for this complex and full-bodied single malt. Then I came across Portonova. The process in which Portonova is created is what first roped me in. Portonova is an unpeated whisky that has been aged in various cask-types…
When the spirit is initially laid down to rest interact harmoniously with its oak bed, it is done so in a combination of new American oak and ex-Bourbon casks. The whisky is then transferred to once-used ex-Port pipes and then transferred back to ex-Bourbon casks to finish before it is deemed ready for bottling. Exactly how long it spends maturing in all these oak vessels goes unpublished; this is a NAS whisky. However, you’re not going to care one bit once you try it, I promise. If I had to take a guess, I would say it si maybe somewhere between 4 to 6-years old.
The magic of maturation at the Amrut distillery is the speed in which the whisky achieves its maturity. As noted in my review of the lovely Amrut Fusion, due to the altitude and very hot weather in southern India, whisky matures at a much faster rate – the interaction between oak and spirit is accelerated. However, it does not do so without consequence. The extreme heat and humidity also causes extreme evaporation. In Scotland, the annual evaporation rate is between approximately 1-2%, but in India it is closer to 12%. The aptly named ‘Greedy Angel’s,’ Amrut’s oldest whisky to date, is aged for just 8-years. If a cask of whisky where to be left to mature in an Amrut warehouse for 12-years or so, there would be barely any whisky left for consumption do to evaporation.
Portonova gets its from the town Parangipettai (Portonova) on the east coast of India, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a territory that was under Portuguese control from the 16th to the 18th century.
It is not stated on the package but Amrut does not chill-filter their whiskies, nor do they add coloring – Yet another point on the board.
Price: Approx $105/750ml
ABV: 62.1% – Cask Strength | Non Chill-Filtered | Natural Color
Color: Deep Mahogany
Nose: Big on creaminess, fruits, toffee and chocolate. There are waves of dry fruit – mostly raisin – vanilla and spices. There is also definitely a punch from the whopping 62.1% ABV, so approach this one carefully. More fruits are beginning to show and bring about even more spice and dark chocolate. The more you nose, the more it shows – more spices now along with toffee, leather, seasoned wood and a slight nuttiness. This is one to appreciate.
Palate: Every sip of this whisky is just as exquisite as the next. Big, bold, viscous and quite complex, with flavors of cinnamon, clove, rum raisin, vanilla, chocolate, plentiful spices, several layers of fruit and port sweetness that is all delivered nicely in cask strength form. Heated, yes, but still definitely sippable in its natural strength.
Finish: Long and full of spiced fruits.
Overall, simply fantastic! Enjoying whiskies such as this are a moment and celebration in and of itself. Although this full-bodied, palate pleasing single malt is a little difficult to track down due to it only being produced on a couple of occasions, there are still a few bottles still out there to be found. If you happen to comes across one in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend picking it up. You can send me a small sample as a thank you ;)
Final grade: A