12
Apr 15

Amrut Distilleries factory tour (with Vir Sanghvi)

Date: February 12, 2014

I was invited to visit the Amrut Distilleries factory on Mysore Road, just outside of Bangalore city. I was going to get to see the manufacturing process for making the famed Amrut whisky — with a special guest in tow. Noted journalist, writer and TV personality Vir Sanghvi was going to drop by the factory for a tour.

Amrut whisky display Bangalore

The award-winning Amrut whisky range

Barley peat for whisky

Barley to the left, peat to the right

Amrut distillery office awards display

We were waiting for Vir Sanghvi to arrive

Amrut awards Jagdale old photo

Gave me enough time to check out the awards and the history of the company Shri Radhakrishna Jagdale founded

Amrut distillery test lab Bangalore

This is the lab where they sample and test whiskies — Amrut’s own production batches and the competition

Jagdale gifting flowers to Vir Sanghvi

Vir Sanghvi had arrived, and so had the present chairman of Amrut Distilleries, Mr. Neelakanta Rao Jagdale. After a formal greeting, the Amrut team led us all to the factory.

Amrut factory tour with Vir Sanghvi

Senior VP Surrinder Kumar led the factory tour

Storage silos Amrut whisky distillery Bangalore

These silos store the grains

Inside Amrut factory Mysore road

We went up to witness the manufacturing stages

Amrut factory grain pulley

The process of making whisky begins here. The grains are brought in using this conveyor.

Malt mill Amrut whisky tour

Then the malted barley is ground into powder in the malt mill

Grains grinder Amrut factory

The flour then moves down

Amrut factory whisky making Bangalore

We then moved on to the fermentation process and to large vessels (on the left hand side)

Fermentation vessel whisky making Bangalore

We were asked to take a look inside these fermentation vessels

Fermentation yeast Amrut whisky making

Hot water is added to the barley and this breaks down the starch content in the barley. This liquid mash is called wort. Later, yeast is added.

Yeast rising fermentation process whisky

The yeast causes fermentation of the wort and creates alcohol. The mixture rises after a few weeks of fermentation.

Copper pot stills Amrut factory

The next stage is distillation of the liquid in these large copper pot stills. Amrut distills twice(?). Basically the pot stills are like large kettles that heat the liquid causing the alcohol vapours to rise. These vapours turn back into liquid and what is essentially spirit.

The spirits are then poured into oak barrels for the maturation process.

Maturation chamber oak barrels Amrut whisky

This is the maturation chamber (one of many) where barrels of spirit are left to mature over a period ranging from one to three years

Maturation room temperature Amrut whisky

They note the temperature and other stats daily

Amrut whisky tasting maturation room

Vir Sanghvi samples the spirit that has only matured for a few months. I had a sip too and it really doesn’t have a taste to it… but it’s got quite a kick! It’s pure alcohol.

Amrut whisky maturing chamber panorama

I took a panorama of the maturation chamber before leaving

Amrut whisky bottling factory

We then moved to the bottling unit

Amrut whisky bottling machine Bangalore

Here is where the end product is bottled

Corking Amrut whisky factory

Corked

Amrut whisky workers factory

Stickered

Amrut whisky boxed

And boxed

Amrut factory warehouse

After which these boxes are shipped. Unfortunately, they turned down my offer to ‘ship’ one box of Peated whisky to my house free of charge :)

Vodka bottle inspection Amrut factory

This is the bottle for Amrut’s Muschovy vodka. One such bottle is being inspected for sediments.

Amrut distillary bottling factory Bengaluru

This is a second factory where they package other products such as their rum and vodka offerings

Maturation chamber Amrut whisky factory

We stopped by some other maturation chambers where Amrut is experimenting with new flavours and techniques

Oak barrel charring process India

Then we saw something really special. The process of charring the oak barrels.

Barrel charring Amrut whisky Bangalore

It’s done by this guy who is among the very few in India who does barrel charring professionally

Oak barrel charring process Amrut whisky

The barrel spins as it gets charred on the inside

Fire oak barrel charring Bangalore India

It’s quite a sight

Charred barrel whisky making

The fire is put out quickly

Inside charred oak barrel Amrut distillary

And this is the end result. You can smell the oak and it’s this char that gives the spirit its dark colour over the maturation period

Used oak barrels Amrut whisky

There’s a limit to how many times Amrut uses one barrel. These are used barrels they sell off.

With that, the tour was over and we returned to the head office for lunch.

Jagdale presenting Vir Sanghvi Amrut whisky

Post lunch, Vir Sanghvi was gifted with a limited edition “Naarangi” variant of Amrut whisky before leaving.

Amrut appreciation dinner Bangalore

Later in the evening, we all gathered at the JW Marriott Hotel on Vittal Mallya Road for an appreciation dinner hosted by Amrut Distilleries

Guests Amrut dinner party

The evening saw special guests from Bangalore high society invited to join Vir Sanghvi and sample some Amrut whisky

JW Marriott Amrut dinner Bangalore guests

The event saw the Amrut folks talk about their whisky and educate the guests on savouring whisky in the right manner

Food at JW Marriott Bangalore chef

The food served was an all-gourmet affair with some top-notch dishes

JW Marriott hotel lobby Bengaluru

I left the JW Marriott hotel once the night’s festivities were over

A big thanks to Amrut Distilleries for inviting me to the factory and the appreciation dinner. I enjoyed both and I loved getting an insight into what goes into making an exquisite bottle of Amrut Whisky.


12
Dec 14

An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House

I was invited for a blogger gathering at the invitation of Amrut Distilleries, makers of the renowned Amrut Single Malt whisky. I had heard of the brand, but never knew much about it nor had I ever tasted it. It’s not easy to find it in liquor stores and I think I have seen their whiskys more at airport duty frees. Amrut XXX rum on the other hand, that’s far more common. None the less, we were asked to come for a tasting session to be held at The Glass House on Lavelle Road.

The Glasshouse Lavelle road Bangalore

There was a bit of space across from The Glass House to park my bike

The Glasshouse lounge restaurant Bangalore

This was my first time at The Glass House, and first impressions: “Wow!”

We were instructed to first go upstairs for the Amrut event. Continue reading “An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House” »


15
Oct 14

Visit to Amrutha Dairy Farm, a learning experience

I have gone to my friend Santhosh Singh’s farm before, but quite a lot has changed since our visit. First, Santhosh gave it name — Amrutha Dairy Farm. But later decided to not put up signs anywhere. Why? We’ll get to that later.

Amrutha Dairy Farm is located in Haalenahalli, Madhure Hobli, Doddaballapura.

I mean, here’s a map of its location.

Beyond that, all I can say is: good luck finding it on your first try!

Sunrays through clouds-bangalore

The weather seemed nice for this visit

It is a bit of a challenge to find the farm, but if you follow the direction path highlighted on Google Maps, you can get there with relative ease if you use your phone as a GPS device.

Farmhouse Bangalore Karnataka

We parked inside the farm. This is the farmhouse Santhosh and his brothers built.

The dairy farm was set up nearly 4 years ago. The initial plan was to setup a milk processing center, but when Santhosh realized the heavy investment that was required, he realized it would be better just starting off with just producing milk for the time being, and slowly ramp up.

Cows shed dairy farm Bangalore

Santhosh *only* has around 30 cows

Santosh is parallely working on a heifer rearing project (heifer is a young cow before she has had her first calf). This is to contain the operational costs on the business, such as drought in the area for consecutive years. So yeah, like many Indians, even these guys suffer from water and electricity problems. They also have a hydroponics system which can produce very nutritious green fodder (up to 1ton per day) and this was built completely from scratch by them after taking technical help from some guys in Europe and New Zealand.

Growing hydroponics greenhouse

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. They have such a facility in the farm.

Cow shed dairy farm Bangalore

They feed the cows a hybrid napier grass grown at the farm and maize procured from nearby farms along with prescribed nutrients

Cows feeding dairy farm Bangalore

This might look like a lot of cows but only 6 cows are ready to produce milk

Cow staring dairy farm Karnataka

Hello

Farm land Hallenahalli Karnataka

The farm has some extra land which Santhosh and his brothers are contemplating how to best make use of.

When word spread about Amrutha Dairy Farms, a Netherlands-based group came to India and approached Santhosh to join hands with the farm to set up a milk processing plant to produce products like khova, paneer and cheese. Continue reading “Visit to Amrutha Dairy Farm, a learning experience” »

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