India’s Whisky scene is blossoming. Over the last decade, it has grown from a well-kept secret into one of the dominant players on the World Whisky scene. One of the main brand’s behind the South Asian nation’s seemingly sudden rise in popularity and interest has been Rampur Indian Single Malt Whisky, and, recently, it has been their Rampur Double Cask garnering well-deserved praise and attention.
Distilled in traditional copper pot stills in the oldest distillery in India, dating from 1943, Rampur’s lineup of single malts has become known the world over for the quality of their liquid. In 2019, the brand added Rampur Double Cask to its range, and it has been stacking up awards ever since. Last year, it was awarded a gold medal at the Fifty Best World Whisky Awards.
In this week’s Bottle Breakdown, we sat down with the minds behind Rampur and Rampur Double Cask to dig deeper into what makes their spirits so unique, and to find out how the foothill of the Himalayas are influential in creating some of the world’s most exciting Whisky.
Spirited Zine: Just to get started, what was your first experience with Whisky? And how does that memory impact the way you view the Rampur Double Cask?
Rampur: The signature aroma of all Rampur Indian Single Malt expressions is Lychee and a delicate touch of Rose petals. That is the first recall when you sniff Rampur Double Cask. Thereafter, you experience a fruity, floral, sweet, hint of vanilla with a touch of dark dried fruits.
SZ: The Rampur distillery is located in Uttar Pradesh at the foothills of the Himalayas. Can you take us through the terroir and how it imprints itself on the Rampur Double Cask?
R: Every whisky is the manifestation of climatic condition and geographic conditions it belongs to. We are privileged to be located in North India in the foothills of the Himalayas. The climatic condition varies drastically from winter (2 deg C) to summer (40+ deg C). This makes the malt interact with the wood at an aggressive pace. Experts opine the maturation process in India is around 4 times faster than Scotland due to these extreme weather conditions. The water, soil, air all contribute to the uniqueness of Rampur Indian Single Malts.
SZ: Where does the water for Rampur whiskies come from? How about the grain?
R: The source of water is underground and the malted barley used is 6 row North Indian Barley – imparting sweet, malty and caramel notes.
SZ: What kind of yeast do you use in the fermentation process and where does it come from?
R: We at Rampur use a unique combination of dry yeast. We arrived at the composition after a lot of experiments.
SZ: The Rampur Double Cask is first aged in Bourbon barrels and then in Sherry casks. What is the process that is used in sourcing the Bourbon and Sherry barrels? And what kind of Sherry casks do you use?
R: Our wood policy is very robust. We source our once used American Bourbon barrels from one source only and for Sherry also we have one source from Jerez, Spain. We use Oloroso Sherry Butts & Hogsheads.
SZ: What is it about the combination of Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks that makes them pair so well with Rampur Double Cask?
R: The first fill Bourbon barrels imparts sweet vanilla and enhances the typical tropical fruity and floral notes of Rampur, whereas the Oloroso Sherry Butts/Hogsheads impart dark dried fruits, spices and enhance the overall body.
SZ: Rampur’s Whiskies mature significantly more quickly than other whiskies, due to the distillery’s unique location. How do you go about making sure the Whiskies reach the exact flavor profile you’re looking for?
R: Due to our robust wood policy, we select nothing less than the best barrels for Rampur. Each barrel is evaluated for its profile periodically. In fact, our malt is nurtured and groomed under the watchful eye, nose and palate of our Master Blender. Once the whisky inside the barrel reaches its desired sensory profile and pre-requisite quality parameters, then it is allowed to be disgorged.
SZ: When we pour ourselves a glass of the Double Cask, should we give it some time to breathe? And what should we be looking for when we smell and taste the Whisky?
R: We strongly believe that each malt aficionado is unique and should enjoy their whisky the way they like it. We recommend experiencing Rampur Straight in the nose and then in the palate. Once you take a sip, just roll it on your tongue and wait for the various layers of aromas to hit the upper part of your mouth. Just relax and enjoy the whisky. Then add a few drops of water and sniff, the addition of water dramatically opens up the aromatic molecule in the whisky. Rampur is not about drinking, it is all about experience.
SZ: How do you recommend enjoying Rampur Double Cask and what should it be paired with it?
R: Straight / On the rocks or with a little bit of still water. It pairs very well with grilled / Barbeque food.