Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Rampur Distillery. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final result of this review. It’s also worth noting that by clicking the purchase link near the bottom of this review, our site receives a small referral payment that helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Rampur Distillery, in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, at the foot of the Himalayas, was established in 1943. Over the decades, Rampur has grown into a larger conglomerate, Radico Khaitan Limited, which produces the “Indian Made Foreign Liquor” or IMFL. Rampur released their first single malt in 2016. Although they have been distilling for decades, they have provided blended spirits for other brands. One of their offerings, Rampur Asava, is a one of a kind whiskey that is finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels; not just any Cab Sav, but Indian Cab Sav.
When you think of wine, like whiskey, India doesn’t come to mind as quickly as France or California. However, wine in India dates back to the Bronze Age. Persian traders brought the practice with them to the country. Eventually, the phylloxera epidemic, coupled with government disapproval, wiped out viticulture until the 1980s.
In India, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the main wine regions. Many consider Nashik in Maharashtra the wine capital of India. However, Rampur does not disclose which winery they get the Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from. Indian wine is imported into the United States, so if you want to try a bottle as a Rampur Asava companion, talk to your local wine merchant.
I have looked at other Indian whiskeys before and have looked at other whiskeys finished in red wine barrels and white wine barrels. This is the first Cabernet Sauvignon finished whiskey for me. The Rampur Distillery is in a location that also benefits from arctic conditions, maybe that is enough to change my mind about maturing in hot climates. Let’s find out.
Tasting Notes: Rampur Asāva Indian Single Malt Cabernet Sauvignon Finale
Vital Statistics: 45% ABV. Indian single malt aged in ex-bourbon barrels then finished in Indian cabernet sauvignon barrels. 750 ml $ 89.
Appearance: Amber blush
Nose: The nose is abundant with malty notes reminiscent of porridge. With malt, hazelnut and cardamom, single malt reminds me of baklava. Rosehip and herbal tea meet somewhere in the middle as the orange peel slowly moves up to the nostrils. Fresh grapes and baby powder finish the nose.
Palace: The Cab Sav gives the whiskey a lot of flavor, which is welcoming. The palate is light and not soft despite the irresistible taste of the grain. The single malt is herbaceous and floral with mint and rose. Mandarin adds a fruity touch. The finish is full of cracked black pepper. The grape lingers on the breath, but the aftertaste is woody.
The Rampur Asava is tasty. While Cabernet Sauvignon shines, it doesn’t shine as much as it can due to the overwhelming porridge on the palate. This whiskey made me change my mind about Indian whiskeys and I am ready to try the rest of the Rampur range.