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

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Rampur Double Cask Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you’re new to Indian whisky, there is the whisky that’s sold only in India, which is usually distilled from molasses. Then there is Indian Foreign Made Liquor (IMFL), the type of whisky with which much of the rest of the world is familiar.

 

Founded in 1943 as Rampur Distillery & Chemical Company, Ltd., this Indian distillery didn’t start producing its own brands until 1998. Instead, it made extra neutral alcohol and bulk alcohol that it sold to other brands. But that changed when its new owner, Lalit Khaitan, and his son, Abhishek, learned that more Scotch whisky was consumed in India than what was produced in Scotland!

 

Think about that last thought… and then consider why there is a massive market for counterfeit spirits worldwide.

 

The Khaitans had an idea: they wanted to provide Indians with inexpensive Scotch-like whisky since there was, at the time, nothing that could satisfy the demand. After much financing and taking on partners such as Diageo and Whyte and Mackay Group, Radico Khaitan Ltd., as the company was now known, entered the international whisky market. Radico Khaitan operates two distilleries, Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and Radico NV Distilleries Maharashtra Limited in Aurangabad.

 

The climate in much of India is stiflingly hot. And, if you are in the Himalayan region, it can also get darned cold. Uttar Pradesh is at the base of the world’s highest mountain range and is exposed to both. In the summers, Indian whisky ages much faster than its Scottish counterpart, some claim by a factor between three and five times. When you consider the cold temperatures, too, that only compounds the equation.  

 

The Rampur brand is considered Radico Khaitan’s premium drink division. Today I’m reviewing Double Cask, an Indian Single Malt made from 100% malted barley that’s been run through a copper pot still. The newmake is aged in ex-Bourbon for two-thirds of its long sleep and ex-Oloroso sherry casks for the remainder. It carries no age statement (similar to most Indian whiskies), is packaged at 45% ABV (90°), and is non-chill filtered. The suggested price is $79.99 for a 750ml bottle.

 

For the record, I’ve had stunning Indian whiskies and others that are far less impressive. The only way to know where Rampur Double Cask falls on that scale is to #DrinkCurious. However, I would be remiss not to thank Rampur for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance:  This single malt appeared rusty brown when served neat in my Glencairn glass. A thicker rim formed, which yielded wide, fast legs that crashed back to the pool.

 

Nose: The second this whisky left the bottle, its aroma wafted and filled the room. I let this sit for about 20 minutes before I pulled the glass close to my face. As I inhaled, I discovered pine, stewed pear, and nutmeg. Further exploration offered malt, nut, and toasted oak. The stewed pears slammed across my tongue as I sucked the air into my mouth.

 

Palate: A thicker, silky texture greeted my mouth, and I immediately tasted grapefruit, roasted coffee, and cacao on the front of my palate. The middle hinted at strawberry, which was quickly overcome by more of the stewed pear. On the back, flavors of toasted oak, nutmeg, almond, and a kiss of clove were evident.

 

Finish:  This long-lasting finish consisted of grapefruit, roasted coffee, oak, macadamia nut, strawberry, and crescendoed with clove.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you asked me if Rampur Double Cask is more similar to one of the two other Indian Single Malt brands (Amrut and Paul John), I’d tell you that the three are more cousins than siblings. I’d say Rampur is more of a distant cousin. That should not be interpreted as a lesser whisky, just that it is decidedly different.

 

I admit I was concerned with how this whisky would taste during the nosing. I’m not a gin fan because I dislike juniper, and the pine quality left me wondering. Thankfully, the pine was restricted to only the nose. The tasting experience, on the other hand, was lovely. I enjoyed the combination of citrus and berry fruits; the spice notes were significant yet not overwhelming. In all, they melded together nicely, creating a happy sipping event. At $79.99, I’m delighted to have this in my whiskey library and believe it has earned every bit of its Bottle 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 you do so responsibly.

 


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

After Dark Premium Grain Spirit Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


I’ve written about Indian whiskies several times. One of the things I often mention is the lack of much regulation as far as what Indian whisky means. It could be a true single malt, it could be single grain, it could be fermented molasses, or neutral grain spirits (NGS). As far as Indian single malt is concerned, I’m a big fan for the most part.

 

One of the oldest Indian distilleries is Radico Khaitan Limited, founded in 1943 and used to be called Rampur Distillery.  It is also the largest manufacturer of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL). As such, it does its own distilling, blending, and aging in Rampur.

 

While perusing the aisle of a random liquor store, I stumbled across After Dark, labeled as a Premium Grain Spirit Whisky.  I’ve had spirit whiskies before and have been relatively unimpressed. As it turns out, India’s definition of spirit whisky and America’s are not the same. America’s is very specific. India’s is more of a general whisky definition that deals with IMFL.

 

“After Dark is a promising brand in the fast growing premium segment in India. It is a drink to be savoured with friends. The night has different connotations for different people. It unfolds and brings a unique world of desire, adventure and excitement. In fact, it’s where the fun and action begins. After Dark Whisky was rewarded with the Silver Medal at the Monde Selection Quality Award, 2011.” – Radico Khaitan Limited

 

After Dark is one of the few IMFLs that contain no molasses or neutral spirits and is made from 100% grain whiskies. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can procure a 750ml package or $19.99. I found a 50ml taster for about $0.99.

 

So, how does After Dark hold up against the other Indian whiskies I’ve tried? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, After Dark was gold in color. There is no indication this carries any e150a (or other) added colors. It created a thick rim that made even heavier legs that fell back to the pool.

 

Nose:  Clean linen was the first thing I smelled. Probably like you, I’ve never listed that as a note before, but that’s what was there. Muted caramel and floral qualities hid beneath. When I took the air into my mouth, that lighter caramel remained.

 

Palate:  The texture was soft and light-bodied. I tasted leather at the front of my palate, the middle featured honeysuckle, and the back combined clove and black pepper. There wasn’t much there from front to back.

 

Finish:  Very astringent and bitter, I was able to identify clove through it. It was, thankfully, short.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The finish overwhelmed anything that could have been positive in my experience. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a medicinal quality. Chewing on a mouthful of Band-Aids is not something I relish. To be blunt, there wasn’t much to like about After Dark. Could it make a sound mixer? I suppose that depends on how much “and Coke” you want to add to it. After Dark takes a solid Bust 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 you do so responsibly.

 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Amrut Peated Cask Strength Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes

 


Have I been on an Indian single malt whisky kick lately? Yes. For the most part, I’ve been stunned by how well the subcontinent handles single malt whisky, especially in light of almost no regulation.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61°F and 94°F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Indian Peated Single Malt Cask Strength. Unlike many Indian single malts, including those from Amrut, this version is distilled from 100% peated barley sourced from Scotland. Although it carries no age statement, it spent between four and six years in former Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and weighs in at a hefty 62.8% ABV (125.6°). You can expect to pay around $105.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to my tasting notes, I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (Amrut's US importer) for providing me a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Poured neat into my trusty Glencairn glass, this single malt presented as gold bullion. A fragile rim released a colossal curtain that crashed into the pool, leaving tiny, sticky droplets.

 

Nose: As you might guess, the first aroma picked out was peat. It was more sweet than smoky, although the latter was easy to discern. What followed was salted chocolate, brown sugar, apricot, date, orange, and, finally, fresh pastry. When I pulled the air into my mouth, it was as if a vanilla bomb went off with date as the aftermath.

 

Palate:  An oily, heavy texture greeted my tongue. The front of my palate tasted vanilla, cooked plantains, and date. As it transitioned to the middle, I could imagine biting into brisket straight off the smoker, accompanied by toffee, orange peel, and lemon peel. The back featured salted caramel, clove, and charred oak.

 

Finish: A long-lasting, spicy finish consisting of dry oak, smoke, clove, slightly tempered by salted caramel and cooked plantains. My tongue sizzled for just under five minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had several peated Indian single malts and expected more of a peated punch than what I experienced. Oh, it is there, but it steps aside easily enough to make the other flavors shine. I have to admit, this cask-strength version Amrut Peated Single Malt wowed me. Personally, I found this to be a hell of a deal, and it would be a mistake to pass it up. A Bottle rating for sure, 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.

 


Monday, March 21, 2022

Amrut Neidhal (Single Malts of India) Whisky Review & Tasting Notes



Its fans know that Amrut is the pioneer for distilling Indian Single Malt Whisky. Founded in Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010.

 

Many Amrut fans may not know that Amrut has created an umbrella brand called Single Malts of India. It is a line of whiskies that Amrut produces but doesn’t distill. Instead, Amrut works with small Indian distilleries, then Amrut takes the unaged distillate back to Bengaluru to age in its warehouses. The initial release is called Neidhal.

 

“What we have done this time is dug deep and discovered an uncut gem. We have then procured the gem, carried it to Amrut, caressed it with our touch, and polished it with our expertise. What you discover bottled is truly an amazing whisky showcasing its real potential. Watch out, we as an organization are now sailing into unchartered waters of independent bottling.”Ashok Chokalingam, Head Distiller of Amrut

 

Neidhal is the first independent bottling in India. Neidhal comes from the ancient Tamil texts from the Sangham period (300BC to 300AD). In those texts, the earth was divided into five distinct regions. Neidhal consisted of all oceans and coastal lands. This distillate was sourced from a coastal distillery.

 

Neidhal is a single malt whisky. The mash is 100% Indian six-row malted barley which used peat imported from Scotland.  It carries no age statement, but we know that Bengaluru, where Amrut ages its whisky, has about a 12% annual angel’s share loss, which ages at around 3.5 times that of Scotland. Also, Amrut typically uses a blend of vintage Bourbon barrels and new, charred oak as its cooperage.

 

Worldwide, there are 12,000 bottles of Neidhal, of which only 1200 were allocated to India. It is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and you should be able to acquire a 750ml for $109.99.

 

I want to take a moment and thank Glass Revolution Imports, the US importer, for providing a sample of Neidhal in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how this experiment turned out.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Neidhal presented as bright gold. A minuscule rim formed that gave way to long, wavy legs.

 

Nose: Smoky peat was the first aroma to hit my olfactory sense. It took some work to get past, but notes of seaweed, coconut, pineapple, iodine, and tasted oak eventually passed through. An interesting blend of coconut and brine rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air into my mouth.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was incredibly oily yet somehow light and airy. The front featured fruity notes such as cherry, plum, pineapple, pear, and sea salt. A punch of smoke, followed by coconut and vanilla, formed the middle. The back consisted of oak, white pepper, leather, and tobacco leaf.

 

Finish: Each time I sipped, the length of the finish changed. The first was very short. Subsequent tastes gave incredibly long durations. Yet, others brought it more to medium to medium-long. Regardless of the span, the flavors of smoke, pineapple, pear, salted caramel, and white pepper were consistent.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Neidhal is a complex single malt whisky. If you don’t like peat, don’t bother. But, if you’re like me and enjoy the earthy smoke, you’re in for a treat. The $109.99 cost is a bit high, but I wouldn’t let that preclude me from enjoying a Bottle. Just take your time to savor it. 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.

  





Monday, March 14, 2022

Amrut Bagheera Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

If you read (or watched) The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, you’ll remember the black panther that protected “man-cub” Mowgli. The panther’s name was Bagheera (which, in Hindi, means black panther). Bagheera was wise and well-respected by most of the other jungle animals, and when he found Mowgli in a wrecked canoe, Bagheera dedicated his life to teaching him and protecting him from harm.

 

Amrut is the original, single malt distillery of India. Founded at Bengaluru in 1948, it didn’t produce its first single malt whisky until 2004 and grabbed worldwide attention when Jim Murray gave Amrut Fusion a 97 rating in 2010. Bengaluru is about 3000 feet above sea level, with temperatures between 61F and 94F, while the average humidity is 66%. The climate causes whisky to age about 3.5 times each year compared to what Scotland experiences, translating to about 12% loss annually to the angels.

 

Today I’m sipping on Amrut Bagheera. It is a limited-release offering, taking its flagship Amrut Single Malt and finishing it in former sherry casks. Amrut begins its journey with a mash of six-row barley, 99% of which is unpeated and 1% peated. That’s then aged in both former Bourbon and new, charred American oak barrels for an undisclosed period. While the type of sherry cask is unknown, I’m going out on a limb and believe it was Oloroso, and my tasting notes will explain why. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. You can expect to pay about $89.99 for a 46% ABV (92°) 750ml package.

 

I want to thank Glass Revolution Imports (the US importer) for providing me a sample of Bagheera in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it’s time to #DrinkCurious and taste what it is all about.

 

Appearance: Sipped neat from my Glencairn glass, Bagheera presented as deep, burnt umber. A medium rim released sticky droplets.

 

Nose: Bagheera was very fragrant from the moment I opened the bottle. It was as if I had released a djinn from its prison. There was no possible way to miss the sherry influence. Raisin, date, dried cherry, leather, and candied citrus peel wafted from it. Caramel, cocoa, and oak were next, with a touch of brine for good measure. As I pulled the aroma into my mouth, leather and date tangoed across my tongue.

 

Palate:  An oily, medium-weighted texture greeted my tongue. Fruity date, raisin, prune, and apricot created the front, while brown sugar, sweet tobacco, toffee, and almond formed the middle. Chocolate, roasted coffee beans, leather, and dry oak rounded the back of my palate.

 

Finish: Remember that 1% peated barley? I forgot about it until this point. A puff of mild smoke enveloped date, raisin, dried cherry, apricot, and dry oak from beginning to end. There was some pucker power to the dryness as it lingered for a medium-to-long finish.   

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  With single malts, there are sherry bombs and sherry-influenced whiskies. Bagheera falls somewhere in-between. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t a supporting cast member. I found Bagheera to be tasty and decidedly different. Sure, it is non-age stated, but nearly every other Indian single malt is. I’d have no problem paying the $89.99 because the experience was delightful. Bagheera earns every bit of my Bottle 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 you do so responsibly.

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Kamet Indian Single Malt Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


I have to admit; it has been exciting to see the growth in popularity of Indian single malts. My first experience was about a dozen years ago with Amrut. I’ve been a big fan of Paul John. Rampur has been showing promise.

 

Watch out, folks, because there’s a new player in town, and it is called Kamet. Kamet is a joint venture between Peak Spirits and Picadilly Distillery. If you shrug your shoulders and ask yourself (or me), “What’s the big deal about that?” I have two names to mull around: Surrinder Kumar and Nancy Fraley. Surrinder is considered the father of Indian Single Malts; he was formerly the Master Blender at Amrut. Nancy “The Nose” Fraley is one of the most respected blenders in the United States.

 

“The story begins at the base of Mt. Kamet, the third highest peak in The Himalayas. From here, the Kamet foothills unfold into verdant plains where the fertile soils become a patchwork cut by mountain-fed streams. For thousands of years, the lands beneath Kamet have been a breadbasket for the Indian people providing water and agricultural sustenance. The stories, legends, and fortunes of this region have been passed along and are carried forth today by the sacred Parrot, our brand icon. We are reminded and inspired by the winged messengers of the region to work hard, be loyal to our community, and be thankful for our bounty.” – Kamet

 

Kamet starts with 100% malted six-row barley, the most common kind used with Indian whisky. It utilizes French yeast in the fermentation process and Scottish-style copper pot stills for the distillation process. It aged in former Bourbon barrels, ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry butts, and vintage Bordeaux wine casks. Kamet is the first Indian single malt to utilize the latter cooperage.

 

Kamet carries no age statement, but that’s not uncommon with Indian single malts. They age much faster, often at a rate of three times that of Scotch due to India's hotter, more humid climate. It is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Proofed to 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to spend about $44.99 for a 750ml package.

 

One of my favorite Madison-area liquor stores brought Kamet to my attention, and I bought a bottle, both to #DrinkCurious and put together a review.  Let’s see if all the background lives up to the only thing that matters: the whisky.

 

Appearance:  I served this neat in my trusty Glencairn glass and allowed it to rest about ten minutes before approaching it. It was one of the most orange-amber ambers I’ve come across. This whisky formed a fragile rim but couldn’t hold onto the fast, fat legs that crashed back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: The first thing I smelled was candied orange peel. It was joined by caramel, toasted oak, raisin, cherry, English toffee, and roasted almond. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, I discovered cherry vanilla.

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was medium-weighted and silky. At the front of my palate, I tasted black cherry, plum, raisin, and orange slice candies. The middle featured sweet tobacco, caramel, and vanilla. Then, I tasted dark chocolate, leather, dry oak, and clove on the back.

 

Finish: My tongue tingled slightly from the medium-long, spicy finish. Heavy raisin, dark chocolate, fresh leather, dry oak, and clove remained.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I started by stating how exciting it is to see the explosive growth of Indian single malts. New players will be welcome so long as they provide quality whiskies. I believe Kamet falls in that category. I admit that I was looking forward to a peated whisky, but that wasn’t meant to be, and that’s perfectly fine. Kamet is tasty, well-constructed, and quite affordable, and I failed to find anything to complain about. I’d love to see more from this brand and am happy to confer my coveted Bottle 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 you do so responsibly.

 


 

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