In the gaming industry we’re getting ready for the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), which is hosted a few blocks from our house in San Francisco. That means a ton of meetings with folks I haven’t had a chance to catch up with in a while. That means a chance to go to a bunch of dinners at new restaurants, or to retry some of my favorites. It also means I sometimes arrive a bit before others and have a chance to get a quick dram in before dinner.
One of those current favorites is August 1 Five, located on Van Ness Street in San Francisco. The restaurant offers modern Indian fare (read expensive but delicious). They have an interesting cocktail program, and a small, but well-curated back bar. As a trendy Indian bar, they have a solid selection of Amrut whiskies. I spotted the Naarangi on the back bar and decided to try it. It was clear from the bottle and name that there was some orange theme, but I didn’t know much else about the whisky.
Nose: Orange for sure, but not oppressively so. Big hit of malt behind it, and a lovely dash of sherried figs and plums.
Palate: From the nose, I thought it would be more orangey and syrupy like a Grand Mariner, but it was not. It’s there, but subtle. Heavy malt and sherry notes. Lovely whisky mid palate. Quite viscous.
Finishes pretty hot, medium duration. Viscous mouthfeel.
Bought for: $21/pour, retails for ~$130-$140/bottle
7 out of 10. Good whisky. The orangeyness separates it from the heard.
If it were a SMWS: “Orange Mentos”
Overview: nice party whisky or something to try with guests who like whiskies, but there are probably better whiskies at the price point.
- Naarangi: Hindi for “orange”
- Three years in Oloroso Sherry casks
- Oloroso casks are seasoned with a sherry & fresh orange peel mixture for two years before single malt is added.
- ABV 50%
- Amrut was founded in 1948 in Bangalore – and began creating whisky from barley blended with malt in 1982
- Whisky matures faster in India than Europe or the US, but loses a larger fraction (11-12% per year) to evaporation than Scotland (~2%). The master blender at Amrut has estimated 1 year in India is 3 years equivalent for aging in Scotland.
- Don’t try the Amrut rum