India's Amrut Readying Ultra-Premium Rum

Indian distiller Amrut, which caused a sensation in the West last year after having its single-malt whisky rated #3 in the world by The Whisky Bible, has its eye on extending its new-found brand cachet into premium or ultra-premium priced rum.

Amrut makes most of its revenue, in fact, from selling rum and brandy inside India--Old Port Rum and Silver Cup Brandy. The company's chairman says Amrut blenders have been working on a luxury-priced rum that would be a blend of Caribbean and Indian rums. No release date is set yet.

Amrut's whiskey for which it has become so well-known in the last year or so, is created from using Scottish malted barley and grain from Punjab. The whiskey is distilled and aged in India where climate requires that it only be aged 3.5-4 years, which is the same age as young Bourbon coming from U.S. places such as Kentucky and Tennessee.

Amrut's whiskies, however, taste much older. Amrut Fusion, for example, could be mistaken for whisky aged 18-25 years. In the Bangalore climate, Amrut sees about 10% loss a year from evaporation (the angel's share). More recently, the company has released two additional whisky expressions: Amrut Intermediate Sherry Single-Malt ($134.99) and Kadhambam single-malt, which is a limited edition distributed in Europe only so far.

Amrut expects to sell about 7,000 cases of its whiskey outside of India in the current fiscal year, but the distillery expects to double that output within two to three years.

Globally, single malts – whisky from a single distillery – constitute a small percentage of total whiskey sales which is dominated by blended whiskey. In India, retail sales of the niche whiskey category would be less than 5,000 cases dominated by brands such as Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet.

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