Named after the 3rd zodiac sign of Indian astrology—but then of course you knew that—the nose has red cherry laces, ground black pepper, and hints of ginger, resin, and toffee apple. The flavors are colossal; beginning with warm fruity caramels and sweet vanilla desserts, it shows off burnt sugar toppings of crème brûlée, Seville orange peel, indulgent dark chocolate, generous layers of maltiness, and delicious mocha notes. Quite spectacular. (3,000 bottles for the U.S.)
Another hard to get Indian whisky, but further proof that the category isn't a one-trick pony. This single cask release is the second from the John Distilleries and a significant step upward. An altogether more complex whisky with an earthy, prickly peat at one level, and a rich pureed pear heart with orange fruit and berries. The combination is quite gorgeous and with a little water you get whisky's answer to a summertime flower show. Impressive stuff. £60
That Boutique-y Whisky Company (distilled at Paul John) 6 year old, 54.7%
Indian Whisky | $130
Definitely one to taste. The nose offers up allspice, moderate peat smoke, pomegranate, dried peel, and ground almonds. The palate is superb; milk chocolate caramels, assertive smoke, and peppercorn, then a slow, warm slide into coffee, cocoa, and licorice, becoming lush and velvety in texture. Paradoxically, the more diluted it becomes, the thicker and more substantial it seems to taste. Long finish of coffee and chocolate. (Batch 4)
What I love about this is that it’s fresh and fruity with plenty of zip. The nose has hard candy, fresh laundry, floral notes, apple, and peach puree. A fruit medley with nectarine, pear, and satsuma, followed by vanilla, lime, almond, and five spice, becoming more rounded, with apple and fudge and a spiced citrus finish. Best Value
magine there’s a janitor sweeping up the bisected fruit fallen from that fruit-slicing app: cherries, cooked peach, lingonberry, orange peel, fresh apple, fruit syrup, waxy leaves, and taffy chews. Plump mouthfeel with sweet baked fruits, it’s sticky and concentrated with a fabulous fruitiness at this strength. Sugared apple, baked orange, tart plum, clove, and aniseed. Unpeated and matured for around 7 years. A lot of buck for the bang. (1,500 bottles)
That Boutique-y Whisky Company (distilled at Paul John) 6 year old, 52.9%
Indian Whisky | $130
Where Batch 4 is peaty, Batch 5 is smoky, joining aromas of after-dinner mints, rich orange, fondant creams, salted caramel, and sour fruits. On sipping, mint chocolate finds accord with the nose, before a summit of smoke and pepper, then apple, milk chocolate, creamy coffee, and late black currant notes. The smoke hangs deep at the back of the throat. Good flavor trajectory and complexity, with a drying chocolate finish.(822 bottles)
Paul John is taking its entry into the world of single malt very seriously, and very slowly but surely. After two single cask offerings to find its range, Brilliance and Edited are its first general releases. Brilliance is unpeated and is a delight: rich, full, young but not immature, and with lime and citrus Starburst chews, sweet candy, and some icing sugar, it trips across the palate. Conclusive proof that Amrut isn’t the only Indian game in town.
Earthy notes, with plain chocolate nibs, malt drinks, and a little leather. There’s a subtle smoky air; nothing too astringent or overpowering. It’s great to try if you’re new to peaty whiskies or were put off by a peat colossus from Islay. Fig, plums, and soft prunes, though it’s mouth-puckering neat, so cut it down. Then, the fruit rounds out beautifully, allowing some gentle spices to shine through with some coffee bean notes at the end. Terrific stuff. £68
This new peated expression exhibits the billowing, rich smoke of burning fruitwoods, warm banana-and-honey muffins, and caramelized brown sugar granules seared onto puff pastry. Tasting this evokes spiced apple, cinnamon, and orange peel, with more peat coming through mid-palate, mingled with Brazil nut, menthol, eucalyptus, clove, and peppermint. A warming glow trickles slowly down, leaving hot smoke and menthol behind. With whisky of this quality, master distiller Michael John will only gain further followers of his work. £40
Edited is the medium peated version of Paul John, and will be followed later in the year with a big peated one. This will do for now, though. The whisky is once more intense and fruity but this time it plays off against a more herbal green apple note, smoke from the hearth, and a touch of spice. There’s also cinnamon—which is fast becoming a house style. Encouraging stuff.
Sticky, spiced-coconut desserts, grapefruit, clove, allspice, and crispy bacon on the nose of this NAS whisky matured in bourbon casks. Sharp with lime, grapefruit, and lemon zest that settle down to green fruits, Jell-O, and dry spices. Do dilute, as water lets the spices leap from the glass, strips down the acidic attack, and accentuates the fresh apple and cinnamon. It doesn’t need much water, but it’s eminently better with a dash. £63