The Whisky Ladies of Mumbai are well on the path of exploring European whiskies… having tried drams from Finland (Teerenpeli), Denmark (Danica), France (Kornog), Germany (Slyrs), Sweden (Mackmyra & Spirit of Hven)… all unique and different from standard Scottish fare.
Whereas our original tasting group, with five years of monthly merry malt sampling complete, have only scratched the surface when it comes to whiskies from Europe. In 2013 The Belgian Owl and Dutch All Rye made less than stellar appearances and in 2014, the Czech Hammer Head received a rather firm ‘thumbs down’.
We were due a tryst with European whiskies. Yet after the disappointing drams, anything offered had to 1st pass the ‘taste test’.
When given an ‘assignment’ to find something ‘different’ by our host for his January 2017 session, my 1st thought was Europe and the 2nd thought was that it simply had to be tried before buying – no leaving the experiment to chance!
Even I wasn’t sure before trying. Italian whisky? Really?! When there is such marvellous Italian wine, it begs the question… whisky?
Our original group sampled this completely blind – having no clue what they were trying…
Puni Alba 3 year Batch #2 (2015) 43%
- Nose – How unique – we needed to ‘tease’ out the different elements. At once sweet and sour, mild antiseptic, hint of tropical fruits, some nutmeg, coconut? There was something truly completely different about this one… sweet, dry yet teasingly
- Palate – Wow! Starts off so smooth then there is a remarkable dry chilly that sneaks up from behind and ‘whoosh!’ envelops completely. One found cooked drumsticks, another lots of tannins, yet another found chocolate
- Finish – An, unbelievably long finish and so surprising, it extends from the dry chilly to a long drawn out light cigar like finish
- Water – Needed? No. Nice? Yes and remarkably did not dent the fabulous finish, simply enabled the mild peat quality to surface more
What a different whisky with its ability to have a deceptively soft ‘front’ then delicious spice that sneaks up from ‘behind’. Without a doubt, it had the most remarkable long finish of all whiskies sampled that evening.
As we speculated, it was very clear this was not Scottish and quite untraditional in its approach. The dry sweetness, soft smooth front then spice from behind, the shy peat that slowly unfurled, the exceptionally long finish… This was a whisky that didn’t neatly fit into clear categories.
Our host pulled out the bottle. Italy?
Putting it mildly, we were collectively ‘maha’ (greatly) impressed. From the design of the bottle to the quality of its contents.
Let us be very clear, Puni is out to change any pre-conceived notions that Italians aren’t up to the challenge of producing whisky! The Puni distillery began operations in 2012 and is located in the Italian alps, taking its name from the nearby Puni river. They use locally grown rye, pot stills and began with three core expressions:
- Nova – American & European white oak casks
- Alba – Marsala wine and Islay casks
- Nero – Pinot nero casks
Here is what they have to say about their Alba:
ALBA – the Italian word for dawn, as well as the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland – is matured for three years in the finest Marsala casks from Sicilly and finished in handselected casks from the Isle of Islay. ALBA is a harmonious combination of the rich & fruity flavours of Italy and the distinctive smoky character of the Scottish island.
Flavour : dark fruit | peat | cloves
The interplay between maturation in Marsala casks and ex-Islay peated whisky casks shows such experimentation can bring about quite wonderful results!
Other whiskies sampled our East to West evening included:
- Japan – Hakushu NAS (2016) 43%
- India – Paul John Bold Batch #4 (2016) 46%
- Scotland – Clynelish 15 year (2001/2016) Refill Sherry 54% (G&MP)
You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: