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.
The award-winning Amrut whisky range
Barley to the left, peat to the right
We were waiting for Vir Sanghvi to arrive
Gave me enough time to check out the awards and the history of the company Shri Radhakrishna Jagdale founded
This is the lab where they sample and test whiskies — Amrut’s own production batches and the competition
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.
Senior VP Surrinder Kumar led the factory tour
These silos store the grains
We went up to witness the manufacturing stages
The process of making whisky begins here. The grains are brought in using this conveyor.
Then the malted barley is ground into powder in the malt mill
The flour then moves down
We then moved on to the fermentation process and to large vessels (on the left hand side)
We were asked to take a look inside these fermentation vessels
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.
The yeast causes fermentation of the wort and creates alcohol. The mixture rises after a few weeks of fermentation.
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.
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
They note the temperature and other stats daily
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.
I took a panorama of the maturation chamber before leaving
We then moved to the bottling unit
Here is where the end product is bottled
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 :)
This is the bottle for Amrut’s Muschovy vodka. One such bottle is being inspected for sediments.
This is a second factory where they package other products such as their rum and vodka offerings
We stopped by some other maturation chambers where Amrut is experimenting with new flavours and techniques
Then we saw something really special. The process of charring the oak barrels.
It’s done by this guy who is among the very few in India who does barrel charring professionally
The barrel spins as it gets charred on the inside
It’s quite a sight
The fire is put out quickly
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
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.
Post lunch, Vir Sanghvi was gifted with a limited edition “Naarangi” variant of Amrut whisky before leaving.
Later in the evening, we all gathered at the JW Marriott Hotel on Vittal Mallya Road for an appreciation dinner hosted by Amrut Distilleries
The evening saw special guests from Bangalore high society invited to join Vir Sanghvi and sample some Amrut whisky
The event saw the Amrut folks talk about their whisky and educate the guests on savouring whisky in the right manner
The food served was an all-gourmet affair with some top-notch dishes
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.