Benedikt: Hello, and welcome to Whisky.com where fine spirits meet. And today, I'm in Bangalore, India and behind me is the Amrut Distillery. The Amrut Distillery is a very old distillery in India and they produced the first single malt Whisky. They started here in 1948, which is very close to the Indian independence. They didn't start off as a distilling company but actually as a chemist and analyst. And later in the '60s, they started to produce alcoholic beverages for the local Indian market, and they supplied it to the consumers, to the military. And later, in the '80s and up to the '90s, they introduced their blended Whisky products to the Indian and international markets, and became very, very successful with that.
And later in 1997, they started producing single malt Whisky, as they went to Scotland, learned from the Scots that the single malt and premium market is a very interesting and very rising market. So they went into the single malt market. And in 2004, they released their first Amrut single malt Whisky. And since then, they did a lot of production and they did more interesting products like Sherry finishes something with peated malt. We're going to see that in the end. But today, we're going to go around and see what's behind the single malt and what's behind the Amrut Distillery. So let's have a try today.
So the malt comes in from the north of India. It comes from Punjab and Rajasthan. And it's delivered in these sacks here on pallets. And then the people bring it in the back, dump it and it goes up to the malt mill.
And this here is where the elevator ends. And through a conveyor system, it ends here in the malt mill. And the malt mill is a four roller pin malt mill. Very old. It's been working for 25 years without a failure. And they grind it down into coarse grist, and capture it here in a funnel and then it goes into the mash tun.
The malt goes into the mash tub or the mash tun with clear water that has been filtered before. And it is kept at about 85 degrees Celsius. And it is done with no over-pressure. And after the mashing process, it goes through this pipe, and through this cooling system here, and it is cooled down to about 20 degrees and then it goes into the fermentation tanks.
After the mashing, we end up here with the six fermentation tanks. Each fermentation tank has a capacity of 10,000 liters, and Amrut Distillery fills them up to about 9,000 liters capacity. When you look inside, you see the little bubbles going up. And that's the CO2 being released at the fermentation when the alcohol is produced. They use dried yeast and they ferment a very long time for five days. And in the end, they have a product of about 6.5% alcohol. In here, it is very hot. And fermentation, when it becomes too hot, it releases unwanted flavors. So what Amrut does. They cool it down to 15 degrees to get the right flavors from the Amrut single malt Whisky, and keep the temperature at 15 degrees the whole time of fermentation. And after that, the product goes to the distilling.
So behind me is the wash still. The Amrut Distillery produces a single malt Whisky on a pot still. They have cone stills as well but they are for different brands. The Amrut single malt is all done on pot still Whisky. It's a very pear shaped pot still. It has a capacity of 6,500 liters. It is being filled with 4,500 liters to not have it boil over. Otherwise, if it boils over, then there are bits going into the condenser and that's really bad. So they boil it at a pot still and they come out with an intermediate spirit of about 20% alcohol that goes then into the spirit still. The 4,500 liters are exactly half a fermenter. So you have one fermenter emptied, half going into the wash still, and then again to have one batch.
So this here is the spirit still. Two batches from the wash still fill one spirit still. The spirit still is a bit bigger. It has a capacity of about 8,000 liters, and is filled up to a capacity of with the content of 5,500 liters. Then they carefully select the heart piece. And the heart piece has around 70% alcohol and the foreshots and the tails, the feints and the tails are being recycled into the next batch. So the shape of the spirit still is very important. Because it is rather large and then it has a big constriction in the middle and a lamp shape like the Master Distiller calls it at the top. So you maximize the amount of surface you have where the spirit touches the copper, and induces catalytic reactions that makes the Whisky taste better, a bit smoother, and exactly the character that Amrut Distillery wants it. After that, it's into the barreling.
So we're here at the cooperage. The Amrut Distillery gets a lot of different casks. And what they do is, they deconstruct the barrels, take off the hoops, and construct them again here, and leave out the top, and then they roll it onto this machine here and use a burner to char the barrel again. And this activates the barrel again to extract the flavors and caramelize the sugars inside the wood. And then they cool it off. And this is a ready-made cask. And you can see it has a deep alligator char. And that is what gives the Amrut its full, mature flavor.
Man: [inaudible 00:08:40]
Benedikt: The Amrut Distillery has racked warehouses, and these racked warehouses go up to five stories. And the very interesting thing about this is they're not rolling around any barrels. Because they put the barrels into racked warehouses, and then they fill them with hoses and actually pump it out also. So they barrels don't move but the spirit and the liquor moves around. So let's talk about what we find inside these warehouses. The warehouses have a great variety of casks. It actually goes down to 100 liters, which is really, really small. And the majority then is Hogsheads and ex-Bourbon barrels and you will also find a few virginal barrels. Also, we find the Long Pigeons and the Sherry Butts, which contain from 500 to 600 liters depending on the bodega.
Yeah, then the next thing that's very interesting about the warehouses is the climate. India has a really, really hot climate that lets the Amrut Distillery lose a lot of their spirit, due to the angel's share. In the first year, they lose roughly about 12% ,and in the following years, they lose about 10%. If we compare this to Kentucky, the Americans lose 10% in the first year and 4% in the following years. So yeah, the Indians lose more spirit. But the Whisky matures a lot faster. Also, the climate is not really comparable to Kentucky because in the States, you have a heat cycle where you have a hot season and a cold season. Here in India, the heat cycle is only three degrees between the hot and the cold season.
Behind me is the bottling line of Amrut. And they do everything by hand. There is so much handcraft in this. We have the filling of the bottles. Then we put on the caps. We tighten the caps on the bottles. And there is a lot of quality control, so every bottle is looked at the screen to see if there are any impurities. And later, they put on the labels for the bottles. This is also very important to put on the right label. Because every state in India needs different information in different languages, and also the export markets need different labels as well. So this is the bottling and now we will also have a tasting.
So we're done with the production. And I'm standing here with K. Prakash. He is the Production Manager, the General Manager. And you're the production and also the quality assurance. You've been working for the company for 25 years now. So a lot of experience there. So thank you for having us at the distillery.
K. Prakash: Thank you.