Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 
I've reviewed Indian Single Malts before. The thing with Indian whisky (meaning from India, not Native American) is no controlling authority says what can and cannot be considered whisky. You can find stuff that is much closer to rum than a traditional whisky. There are a handful of distilleries that do whisky the way you'd hope.


The category was founded by Amrut. The name, translated from Sanskrit, means nectar of the gods. While Amrut started distilling in 1948, it didn't launch a Single Malt until 2004. The distillery is located in Bengaluru, India.


My review is of Amrut's Indian Single Malt. This is the entry-level expression from the distillery. It is distilled from 100% Indian barley, non-chill filtered, and is naturally colored. While it carries no age statement, it is important to realize that, on average, the angel's share in India is about 12% a year. That blows away anything in Scotland! It also means for every year a whisky ages in India, it is comparable to about three to four years in Scotland. 


Amrut is aged in both new, charred oak, and ex-Bourbon barrels. It is proofed at 46% ABV, and you can expect to spend about $50.00 for a 750ml bottle. I picked up my sample bottle at a random liquor store on one of my many ventures. Let's #DrinkCurious and find out what this Indian Single Malt is all about.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Armut presented as the color of dull gold. It left a thin rim on the wall, that rim created medium, sticky legs that were in no rush to return to the pool of liquid sunshine.  


Nose:  The aroma wafted from my glass while I was allowing it to breathe. Initially, the smell of citrus was evident. Pineapple and banana gave it a tropical quality, with caramel and raw honey adding an interesting diversion. When I took the vapor through my lips, molasses filled my mouth.


Palate:  The mouthfeel lacked any moisture and I found it oily. The tip of my tongue picked out caramel and toasted oak. As the whisky moved to the middle, the caramel changed to molasses, and it was joined by oatmeal cookies. Flavors of toasted oak, cocoa, and malted barley made up the back.


Finish:  My initial reaction was this had a warm but short finish. A second sip canceled that out. While it was warm, it didn't fall off and lasted several minutes. That warmth became dry, with cocoa powder, cinnamon, tobacco, and toasted oak. Before it vanished, there was a kiss of pineapple.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I wasn't a big fan of the first sip, but like the finish, that changed. Things did get better, but I've had much more engaging Indian Single Malts. And, that's my issue. I don't see myself excited to revisit Amrut Single Malt. Perhaps one of its other whiskies would give more bang for the buck, but as far as the namesake release, it earned a Bar rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Paul John Single Malt Christmas Edition 2021 Review & Tasting Notes

 



Have you ever had whisky from India? This subcontinent makes some truly lovely whiskies. That’s not to say that they’re all good because India is pretty fast-and-loose as to what qualifies as whisky. But, if you stick with Rampur, Amrut, and Paul John, you’ll avoid those shenanigans.

 

Paul John is located in Goa, India, which is in the western part of the nation. The average temperature in Goa is the high 80s to low 90s (Fahrenheit), which translates to a naturally-accelerated aging environment.

 

Here we are in November, and that means that it is time for the Christmas Edition 2021 release. This would be the fourth in the series. Paul John uses its Christmas Editions to give a sneak peek into what’s new for the following year. I’ve had the 2020 and 2019 Editions, and they’ve been divine.

 

Christmas Edition 2021 is, as always, a single malt. Paul John sources six-row barley grown in the country, which is said to have a higher protein and fiber content. This leads to an oilier whiskey than two-grain barley. Any peat that Paul John uses is sourced from both Islay and the Highland regions of Scotland. Fermentation takes 40 hours or longer before the mash is distilled through its copper pot stills. 

 

Aging took place in ex-Bourbon casks and mingled with cooperages that formerly held vintage port, tawny port, and Madeira wines. The whisky is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement, although it is somewhere in the five-year neighborhood. Before you roll your eyes and dismiss that, understand that due to the hot, humid climate of Goa, things tend to age at about a 3:1 ratio compared to a Scotch counterpart.

 

That’s bottled at 46% ABV (92°) and you can expect to pay about $84.99 for a 750ml bottle. It is available now throughout the USA.

 

I’d like to take a moment and thank Paul John for providing me a sample of Christmas Edition 2021 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. To find out if this one is worth the trouble, I’ll have to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this single malt was the color of dark rust. It presented a thinner rim that led to slow, husky legs and crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose:  Nutty and fruity, the nose was obvious the second I cracked open the bottle. I let it rest for about ten minutes before bringing it to my face. Aromas of English toffee, toasted coconut, roasted nuts, candied orange slices, raisin, and, for good measure, light peat wafted from the glass to my nostrils and just made me smile. When I drew the air into my mouth, it became a caramel bomb with a bit of plum.

 

Palate:  First things first, and that’s the mouthfeel. It was super creamy and thick. The more I sipped, the weightier it became. Racing out of the gate was butterscotch and smoky chocolate. Beyond that, I tasted nutmeg, caramel, berry, and raisin. The back featured oak, Nutella, and molasses. My smile became more pronounced.

 

Finish:  Long and lustful, notes of smoke, oak, Nutella, berry, nutmeg, and clove stuck around, only to be eclipsed by molasses. It left my hard palate tingling slightly despite the lower proof.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is everything Christmas should be. It is sweet, it is smoky, it is savory, and the flavors blend stupendously to one another. The fact that I only had a 50ml is heartbreaking because this whisky is stunning. The good news is that in my area Paul John Christmas Editions aren’t too difficult to come by, and I’ll track a Bottle down to earn a coveted place in my whiskey library. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Friday, April 2, 2021

Paul John Mithuna Indian Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you blindfolded me, stuck a glass of Paul John Mithuna in my hand, and told me this was aged or finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, I'd wholeheartedly agree with you.


If you told me Jim Murray rated Mithuna his #3 whisky of 2021 without giving me a chance to taste it, I'd shrug my shoulders.


If you told me a five-year-old single malt out of India was $300.00, I'd have said you were insane. 


But, Mithuna utilizes not a single stave of former sherry casks. I still don't care what Jim Murray says, and here's a spoiler, I'd pay $300.00 all day long for this whisky.


Mithuna is a limited-edition single malt that is part of Paul John's Zodiac series. This series is centered around double maturation. The first release, Kanya, was named for the Indian counterpart of Virgo. Mithuna is the counterpart of Gemini. It starts with unpeated six-row barley that is high in proteins and low in carbohydrates. It is distilled in a pot still and then aged for five years in virgin American oak barrels. Finally, it was finished for a year in former Bourbon barrels. Naturally-colored, Mithuna is bottled at 58% ABV (116°).  Despite what we know about how long it matured, it carries no age statement.


"Renowned for contradictive strengths, the characteristics of Gemini are epitomized by this Indian single malt as mesmerizing layers of austere, dry tannins are challenged in equal measure by resplendent sugars and mocha on delicate oils." - Paul John


If you've never had Indian whisky, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, not all Indian whisky is whisky. Much of it is closer to rum, as it starts with molasses. But, a handful of distilleries, including Paul John, make single malt whisky in a Scottish tradition. The second thing you need to know is that due to the high temperatures and humidity, things in India age much faster than in Scotland or Ireland, usually by a factor of three. The angel's share is also greater, usually around 8% to 10% a year.


I'd like to thank Paul John for a sample of Mithuna in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and find out what this whisky is all about.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Mithuna presented as a cross between ruby red and deep copper in color. It created a thick rim with fat, wavy legs that plunged back to the pool.


Nose:  Despite the lack of any sherry wood, it certainly smelled like sherry.  Rich plum, raisin, dried cherry, orange, and orange peel were joined by oak and muted mint. When I inhaled the vapor in my mouth, cinnamon, vanilla, and malt danced across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy, viscous, and simply luxurious. On the front, the non-sherry sherry notes continued with raisin, burnt sugar, orange, coconut, and honey. At mid-palate, cinnamon, milk chocolate, maple syrup, and pastry flavors took center stage. On the back, I tasted oak, ginger, orange peel, dried strawberry, and a bit of walnut.


Finish:  Lasting just shy of "forever," the finish consisted of thick caramel, milk chocolate, cinnamon raisin, oak, and for a final bow, a blast of rich honey.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I gave this away already, but I'm confident in my Bottle rating. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow gave this a sip and was blown away. Frankly, so was I. I cannot understand how aging something in virgin oak and ex-Bourbon casks equals a nuclear sherry explosion in every aspect of the whisky. If you want a complex nose, Mithuna has it. If you want a crazy-good palate, Mithuna will deliver. If you want an Energizer Bunny finish, Mithuna will satisfy that desire. If you've got $300.00 to invest in a beautiful pour, this should be what you spend it on. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Paul John Nirvana Indian Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


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

Friday, November 27, 2020

Paul John Single Malt 2020 Christmas Edition Review & Tasting Notes

 


Indian whiskey can prove to be an... um... interesting category. There's not a lot of rules as to what's required to call a distilled spirit from India Indian whiskey. You can have anything from distilled neutral grain spirits blended with fermented molasses and pre-blended Scotch to Indian Single Malts. The category is undefined outside of Europe, and, in fact, cannot legally be called whiskey inside Europe unless it follows the stricter standards of other EU nations.

Distilling whiskey from India is a relatively new thing. It started in 1982 by Amrut, but they didn't start off with single malts. They did it utilizing the fermented molasses method. It wasn't until 2004 when Amrut launched the first Indian Single Malt on the market. 


John Distilleries, the parent company of Paul John, is located in Goa, which is in the western part of India. While it was distilling blended whiskey since its founding in 1996, it didn't start with single malt whiskey until 2008. The man behind the brand, Paul P. John, was obsessed with creating an Indian single malt that would rival some of the best in the world. He worked with master distiller Michael D'Souza to fulfill that dream.


Paul John sources six-row barley grown in the country, which is said to have a higher protein and fiber content. This leads to an oilier whiskey than two-grain barley. Any peat that Paul John uses is sourced from both Islay and the Highland regions of Scotland. Fermentation takes 40 hours or longer before the mash is distilled through its copper pot stills. 


Today I'm reviewing Paul John's 2020 Christmas Edition. It is aged for five years in former Bourbon, Oloroso sherry, and virgin oak casks. Once aged, those whiskeys are blended together.  The whiskeys aged in the sherry and virgin oak casks were unpeated, whereas the whiskey in the Bourbon barrels was peated. The Christmas Edition is non-chill filtered and is naturally-colored. It is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). The Christmas Edition is allocated and retails for about $85.00. 


If you're thinking that five years isn't a whole lot of time, keep in mind this is being aged in hot, humid India, where the average temperature is 86°F. It has been suggested that a whiskey aged in this region of India for a single year is equivalent to three years in Scotland. 


Is the 2020 Christmas Edition worth the time and effort to buy? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I do that, I'd like to thank Paul John for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, this single malt appeared golden in color. It created a thin rim and thin, fast legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  An aroma of sweet, mild peat hit my olfactory senses. Once I got past it, apple, pear, plum, and orange peel offered a very fruity experience. Behind those were caramel, brown sugar, and honey. If you're thinking that sounds terribly complex, it was. When I inhaled the vapor through my mouth, I could swear it was apple cider.


Palate:  A creamy, very heavy full-bodied mouthfeel kicked things off. At the front, I discovered soft peat, caramel apple, and toasted oak. The mid-palate had flavors of sweet tobacco leaf, raisin, pear, and pineapple. The back consisted of praline pecan, coconut, cinnamon, and dark chocolate.


Finish: This single malt had a long, dry finish of soft peat, dry oak, ginger, raisin, and black pepper. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Maybe peat isn't your thing. That's understandable. I found the 2020 Christmas Edition to be incredibly complex - from the nosing to the palate, from the palate to the finish. I loved the fruity, spicy flavors and they simply complement each other. Quite frankly, if peat isn't your thing, maybe this one will entice you to come to the dark side. I loved everything about this single malt, and the $85.00 price seems more than fair considering how wonderful it tastes. If there is a whiskey screaming for a Bottle rating, this is it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It