Showing posts with label Indian Single Malt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Single Malt. 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.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Twenty Different Whiskeys in One Night? You Bet!

Last night I joined forces with Kenneth Boll of Cask & Ale as we made our way to Milwaukee to host a charity tasting event... with twenty whiskeys.  This wasn't a choice of twenty, it was twenty pours for each attendee!

That sounds like a lot and it was, but we did it safely. Anyone who drove to the event required a designated driver, and those who didn't drive walked in from their nearby homes. There was also plenty of food and water. Most folks were good about using dump buckets.

The venue was a lot of fun. Dave, the organizer, held the event at his home - but we were on top of his garage - he converted the rooftop to a deck!  Thankfully, the weather mostly cooperated, no rain, not overly hot, but it was very humid. As such, no photos of me melting in my shirt will be posted.

This was a worldwide whiskey tour, giving folks a chance to taste a little of everything. There were a few selections I would have liked to have added in, but we had a few requests which included not to serve anything peated, and for a majority of the pours to be American. Here's what was served:

    • Russell's Reserve 10 Bourbon
    • Michter's 10 Bourbon
    • Jos. A. Magnus Triple Cask Bourbon
    • Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon
    • Redemption High Rye Cask Strength Bourbon
    • Jefferson's Ocean Voyage 10 Cask Strength Bourbon
    • Old Forester 1920 Bourbon
    • Booker's Country Ham Bourbon
    • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A119 Bourbon
    • Thomas S. Moore Extended Port Cask Finished Bourbon
    • Whistlepig 12 Rye
    • High West A Midwinter Night's Dram Rye
    • Angel's Envy Rye Finished in Rum Casks
    • Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky
    • Midleton Very Rare Irish Whisky
    • Redbreast 12 Cask Strength Irish Whisky
    • Brenne 10 French Single Malt
    • Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch
    • The Glendronach 12 Single Malt Scotch
    • Paul John Classic Single Malt Indian Whisky

The crowd favorites seemed to be equally split between the Remus Repeal Reserve, A Midwinter Night's Dram, Michter's 10, and Paul John Classic. 

When all was said and done, everyone said they learned a lot and had a great time. They asked about conducting a future whiskey event, and I even had Dave agree that the next one could include some peated whiskies!

My favorite part of whiskey, even beyond sipping it, is sharing the knowledge and watching folks expand their horizons.  If you're interested in an event of your own, let's talk. Learn, Laugh, and Enjoy Great Whiskey! 


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

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

And my 2020 Whiskey of the Year is...

2020 has been one heck of a year. We've been locked up in lockdown, we've had whiskey events canceled, we've lost loved ones and we've had, of course, yet another miserably long election season.  At the same time, 2020 has been an amazing year, at least whiskey-wise. I've had some mind-blowing whiskeys and been introduced to many new (and new to me) brands. Quite frankly, I ran across very few mediocre whiskeys this year.

But now, 2020 has come to an end, and the end of a year means it is time for the 2020 Whiskeyfellow Awards

Yeah, I know, lots of folks do their "Best Of" lists and I'm no exception. However, my annual "Best Of" lists are different (no, really, they are, I promise). My list is geared to the average whiskey drinker.

First of all, the average whiskey drinker doesn't stop drinking in October. Yet, many of these "Best Of" lists come out then. Um, hello? The year is not over in October!  The only thing I can factor is they're desperate to be the first one to render an opinion. Yawn. I actually wait until the end of the year because I'm tasting stuff all year long.

Even more important is being able to get your hands on something that wins an award. After all, if I'm naming something that is hopelessly out of reach for you, what's the point of my naming it as the "Best Of" anything? So I can have the "Best Of" bragging rights? That's terribly self-centered and absolutely unhelpful.

Anything that is up for consideration must be something I've tasted. Unlike some famous but unnamed folks, I don't have a team of interns separating the wheat from the chaff on my behalf. I'm tasting everything I can get my hands on - good, bad, or ugly. This is something I never want to change.  I don't even want one intern. I love the #DrinkCurious lifestyle. Plus it is my palate you have trusted, not someone else's!

After saying all of that, what will the average whiskey drinker not see on my "Best Of" list to make it relevant?

The Impossible. That means nothing Van Winkle, no Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, no Birthday Bourbon, etc. The average whiskey drinker isn't getting his or her hands on a bottle unless they're very lucky. There is no point to include these.

The Unaffordable. This one is more subjective, I know very few people who can afford to drop several hundred (or thousands) of dollars on a bottle of booze. I know I can't. 

The Store Pick.  Private barrels are awesome. They could very easily sweep a "Best Of" award from me because I pick many barrels each year. But, again, that's not very helpful if the store pick is in Wisconsin and you're in Florida with no reasonable way to get it, or if you do travel, it is gone by the time you get there.

In my opinion, for a "Best Of" list to have any value, it must contain whiskeys you can actually drink. Otherwise, what's the point?

Unfortunately, due to our fractured distribution system, I cannot guarantee that everything on my list is available in your specific market.  I'm not sure anyone with national distribution can. But, everything on this list is reasonably available, even if it means having to travel to another state (meaning, when you get there, you stand a realistic chance of finding it on the shelf).

Lastly, despite the fact I've published over 120 reviews in 2020, I've not tasted whiskeys from every available niche. If you don't see something in the category that you're seeking, it means I either didn't drink anything in that category or, if I did, it wasn't worthy of a "Best Of" award.

Believe it or not, this year I gave a Bar rating to a whiskey that appears on my "Best Of" list. If you're scratching your head about that, the price was the only thing that kept me from handing it a Bottle rating. 

Let's get on with the show...

Best Bourbon of 2020:  All I care about is the liquid inside the bottle. I don't care if it is sourced or someone's own distillate. This year, it goes to Lux Row Distillers for Blood Oath Pact 6, and my April review will tell you why it is so deserving.

Best American Rye of 2020:  I had a few top candidates for the Best American Rye. Some were surprisingly young. But, when the dust settled, Woodinville Whiskey Company's 100% Straight Rye came out on top. It was full of flavor, had an attention-grabbing nose, and easy on the wallet. My July review provides all the details you'd want to know.

Best American Whiskey of 2020:  This is not to be mistaken for the Best Whiskey Made in America.  Rather, there exists a category called American Whiskey, which, at least for me, is any whiskey made in the United States that isn't Bourbon or Rye. I considered Wheat Whiskeys, Single Malts, Triticale, and blends. I tasted some fantastic American Whiskey this year, but the easy stand-out was Barrell Dovetail. Feel free to read more from my August review.

Best Scotch Whisky of 2020:  Here's the issue with Scotches this year - I tasted some stupendous ones. Yet, many of what I sampled are just too difficult for most folks to find (or priced through the ceiling). Hidden amongst that was a shining star called BenRiach Curiositas 10. This Speyside whisky is an excellent way to dip your toe into peated whiskies, and it is shockingly affordable. Check out the review from July.

Best Irish Whiskey of 2020:  This was easily the most difficult category for me to judge. Considering that Irish Whiskey was near-death not so many years ago, its resurgence is a great thing to see, and it came close to a flip of the coin for me to choose my winner, but my favorite Irish Whiskey of 2020 is out of The Dublin Liberties Distillery and it is called Murder Lane. It was finished in Hungarian Tokaji casks and was so impressive, it caused me to run out and buy a bottle of Hungarian Tokaji! 

For what it's worth, I've never had a barrel finish lead to my seeking out what was in the barrel originally, and you can read my review of Murder Lane.

Best Asian Whisky of 2020:  Last year, an under-the-radar Japanese whisky took the award. This year, I looked to mainland Asia and, from India, I discovered Paul John Nirvana. The weird thing is, Nirvana is a Rodney Dangerfield whisky, meaning it doesn't get a lot of respect. My recent review will explain why this undervalued Single Malt earned its place and my respect.

Best Flavored Whiskey of 2020:  This is a new category for my "Best Of" list and one I would have never imagined would ever even exist. Typically, flavored whiskeys are for mixing, but this year I found several that were delicious when drunk neat. The winner is Select Club Pecan Praline Ultra-Premium Whisky. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow may have had some influence here, and you can read why.

Before I get into the Best Whiskey of the Year, I'd like to pause a moment and disclose my Santa Wish. This one violates everything that exists with my "Best Of" list, but it was so amazing and could quite possibly be the best whiskey that's ever crossed my lips. I'm talking about The Kingsman Edition 1989 Vintage by The GlenDronach. I can't even pretend to afford the $1300.00 bottle, which is why it was disqualified from my list, but you can read all about this Highland Scotch if you'd like. So, Santa, please?

And the 2020 Whiskey of the Year is... (Drumroll, please!) Last year, it was a Rye that took the top spot. And, while Woodinville was delightful, it didn't come out as the top dog. The one whiskey that drove me crazy with curiosity is the winner of my 2020 Whiskey of the Year, and it goes to The Dublin Liberties Distillery for Murder Lane!

Congratulations to each of the category winners! I'm looking forward to an even better 2021. Cheers!

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