There are some Rodney Dangerfield whiskeys out there. In other words, they "get no respect." With some, that lack of respect is well-earned, and with others, unfair. But, everyone has a different palate and there are folks who have certain expectations for whatever they're drinking.
Me? I try my hardest not to have any expectations. Sure, I've got my own set of biases, but generally speaking, when I have something I've never tried before, I keep an open mind. There have been more times than I can count where something I was sure would be awful wasn't. And, there have been whiskeys with such amazing reputations, yet when I've had them, they're average at best. That's why it is important, even if you have your preconceived notions, to #DrinkCurious and figure things out on your own.
Today's review is of Paul John Nirvana - an Indian Single Malt. Indian Single Malts are fascinating. Due to the much hotter temperatures than either Scotland or Ireland experiences along with high humidity, things in India age faster. At Paul John's distillery in Goa, they experience between 8-10% angel's share loss per year. That's significant!
Paul John bucks the trend for things Single Malt. Instead of the normal two-row barley used in many Single Malts, it uses a six-row varietal. This allows for a higher protein, lower carbohydrate mash that is oilier and sweeter than average. Nirvana, on the other hand, bucks the trend for things Paul John. First of all, it is their only expression that is chill-filtered. Secondly, it is their only one ringing in at 40% ABV (or 80°). Third of all, it is an unpeated Single Malt.
Nirvana goes through a 60-hour fermentation time before distillation. After distillation in its copper pot still, it is poured into second- and third-fill ex-Bourbon barrels. It is naturally-colored and rested three years before being dumped. You can expect to pay about $30.00 for a 750ml bottle.
Let's take one more thing into consideration before I get into the tasting notes: Because of the drastic change in climate conditions, it has been suggested one year of aging in India is equivalent to three years of aging in Scotland or Ireland. If you do the math, that means Nirvana would be comparable to a nine-year Single Malt in the UK.
I'd like to thank Paul John for sending me a sample of Nirvana in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Nirvana was the color of golden straw. It produced a medium rim on the wall, and once it broke down, long, oily legs dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: Do you like fruit? I had no issues whatsoever pulling out aromas of apple, pear, peach, and raisin. Joining that orchard was honey. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I tasted creamy vanilla.
Palate: As that first sip crossed my lips, I experienced a soft but very oily mouthfeel. On the front, flavors of raisin, orange zest, chocolate, and cocoa were bold and unmistakable. At mid-palate, I discovered pineapple, honeycomb, and cereal grain. At the back were toasted oak and toasted coconut.
Finish: One of the things some non-Scotch fans cite is a band-aid - or astringent quality those can have. I found none of that with Nirvana. Instead, it was a medium-length finish of coconut, nuts, vanilla, chocolate, and mild oak.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I started this discussion off by talking about a lack of respect. Nirvana has left some reviewers unimpressed. It isn't to say reviews I've read suggest it is a bad whiskey, but it didn't do anything for them. I don't get what they're talking about, either.
Nirvana is a $30.00 Single Malt with a ton of character and flavor. It is fruity beyond so many fruity Scotches. I'd toss this up against several good 10-to-12-year Speyside or Highland Single Malts and at the very least, Nirvana would hold its own (and, frankly, I believe would win), and it would accomplish that feat for less money. In my opinion, there's nothing to dislike about Nirvana. If I was considering getting into Single Malts for the first time, Nirvana could easily make the cut, and I'm happy to extend my Bottle recommendation for it. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It