09 December 2022
Rampur Distillery is one of the largest and the most efficiently-run distilleries in India. It is spread over 100 acres of lush green campus. Most of the distillery's production is of neutral spirit made from molasses and grains, destined for mass marker Indian whisky and rum.
But hidden amongst the main distillery is another, smaller, operation, producing malt spirit for whisky. This is the oldest part of the distillery which dates back to 1943, and it's what makes Rampur the oldest whisky distillery in India.
Production volumes break down as follows:
- 33 million litres of grain alcohol per year
- 66 million litres of molasses alcohol per year
- 2.6 million litres of malt spirit per year
Even though the malt spirit part of production accounts for only 2.5% of total output, 2.6 million litres is a lot of spirit and were the distillery a standalone operation in Scotland it would sit in the small to medium size area of the pack.
And neither would it look particularly out of place. The stills and still house are modelled after the Scottish style.
With that in mind, you might wonder what (if anything) distinguishes Rampur from any other single malt distillery in Scotland. The answer to that would be 'climate'.
Located in northern India, near the foothills of the Himalayas, Utar Pradesh is subjected to an enormous swings in temperature over the course of the year. Ranging from 0ºC in the winter to 50ºC in the summer, this shift causes significant expansion and contraction in the oak barrels used for maturation. Much like a teabag that it continually squeezed and decompressed, all that heat and cold speeds up some of the mechanisms of maturation significantly and gives Rampur whisky its signature style.
Rampur Double Maturation is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The sherry cask imparts dried fruit characteristics while the bourbon barrel is responsible for some spice, especially ginger. Without wishing to stereotype Rampur and Indian whisky, dare we say that the finished product is somewhat reminiscent of a really good fruit chutney?