Paul John 7 year Oloroso (2009) 57.4%

I’ve been ever so patiently waiting to sample this whisky… wanting just the right opportunity to share it with one of my Mumbai based whisky tasting groups.

Finally… nearly 2 years after I acquired this lovely bottle, it graced an evening of Sherry explorations…

What did we find?

Paul John 7 year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

  • Nose – Starts quite nutty – specifically walnut, some balsa wood, toast then starts to shift into sweet dry fruits and spices with an inviting warm cinnamon, mince pie, dates, fresh figs, orange citrus, a delicious drizzle of honey or perhaps maple syrup?
  • Palate – Full force and fabulous! There was a lovely spice, cherries, rich and full bodied while remaining nicely rounded. Some black pepper and cinnamon bark, complex and dry.
  • Finish – Long, strong, sweet and sumptuous, even a little hint of licorice at the tail
  • Water – Wow! Really opened it up… Much fruitier, dried apricot, still keeps the orange, rum raisins, even sweeter yet without losing the lovely “Ooomph!” and character…The nose then took on some vanilla, cream, think of a yummy egg nog with a generous dash of nutmeg

What a whisky! Even before  the 1st sip, we already heard comments like “Beautiful!” and “Remarkable!”

No question this was cask strength. And equally no doubt this was one exceptional whisky. Full flavoured and quite fabulous, it really came into its optimal character with a splash of water.

To put it in desi terms – we were “maha” impressed! Even more so when the reveal was Indian, provoking much national pride. Bravo Paul John!

And what the folks at Paul John have to say?

A limited edition of the Indian single malt from the sunny Goan coasts, Oloroso presents an aromatic tapestry of complex yet gorgeously weighted fragrances, from toasted honeycomb to figs and a touch of dry raisin. Matured for 3 years in American bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for 4 years, its creamy flavours offer a delectable blend of barley with grape. The intense sherry richness towards the end, gives this rare whisky its name. The finish is long and luxuriously spiced, with a cocoa tinged vanilla. It is a wholesome Goan experience, packed into every sip.

  • Nose – Complex and gorgeously weighted, Toasted honeycomb, dry resin, dates, figs and apricot, its almost an aromatic tapestry.
  • Palate – Magnificent mix of barley and grape, sweet and creamy, intense richness of sherry in the end.
  • Finish – Long and luxurious, with pulsing vanilla-cocoa mix and a build-up of spices.
  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Pairing – This extremely complex whisky needs food that can complement it well. Tender, juicy steaks and blue cheese can help you unravel every nuance of this magnificent malt from Goa.

Paul John Whiskies:

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Sherry Unusual – Hyde, Paul John, Kilchoman, BenRiach

Sherry’s effect on whisky can be a marvel. And I wanted to do something a bit different for our Bombay Malt & Cigar gents to push the boundaries beyond the known sherry drams like Aberlour, GlenDronach, Glenrothes, etc.

Normally we dive straight into whiskies, knowing what we are trying. However I wanted to have a bit of fun with a surprise…. So kept my fellow tasters “blind.”

Next, I introduced a “reference” pour.

I said nothing about it – merely to smell (not sip) with a request between each whisky to go back to the “reference” to recalibrate senses and compare.

It didn’t take long til they realized the “reference” wasn’t whisky at all but instead a sherry… with speculation it may be a “cream” or sweetened avatar rather than a dry fino or amontillado.

I later revealed that it was a Kingsgate Canadian sherry from KittlingRidge Ontario, Canada  described on the bottle as:

“A premium medium dry sherry, barrel aged in oak for extra smoothness.”

However this Kingsgate is now known as Apera with an explanation that it is medium dry Oloroso sherry “style” dessert wine. This 2013 nod from to EU regulations recognizes that a “true” Sherry can only come from the Spanish triangle.

Which tells you this funny little bottle, inherited from a friend who was leaving India, has been around for a few years…

As for what we tried? Not quite your usual fare…

Here is the progression we explored with our Sherry Unusual evening with whiskies from Ireland, India and Islay…. plus an extra special single cask:

Hyde #6 President’s Reserve 8 year single grain + 18 year single malt 46%

From Ireland, picked as an appetizer, the bottle stated it was finished in Sherry. What made it unusual is that it is a new brand, released to help promote the Hyde name before their Hibernia distillery in Cork is fully producing.

Paul John 7 Year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

This was the biggest surprise – none imaged it could be from India! We were mighty impressed with what the folks from Paul John produced with four years in ex Bourbon then 3 years in ex Sherry casks. It also opened up beautifully with a bit of water.

BenRiach 12 year (2005/2018) Oloroso Sherry Cask No 5052 59.3%

A true class act. Selected just to be sure we had at least ONE proper single malt in our evening. Gorgeous and astounding how at 59.2%, not a drop of water was desired.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2010/2016) Sherry 46%

A pure peat monster tempered with 100% sherry from Islay. Not everyone’s tipple but certainly demonstrated how peat and sweet can combine!

Just click on the whisky links to find out even more about what we discovered!

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Amrut Port Pipe Peated 62.8% (LMdW)

It is time to admit I’ve gone from being skeptical about the Amrut’s available in India to being puzzled by experiments like Spectrum to becoming rather impressed with some of the expressions available outside of India.

After enjoying the Fever Club Con-Fusion whisky, our host shared the tale of when he 1st encountered this at Whisky Live in Paris. Shared how he was intent on other explorations but when passing by the Amrut booth sampled this and went “Woah!” So much so that of all the options, this is the one that stood out and made its way back to Mumbai for our sampling pleasure. Lucky us!

Amrut Port Pipe Peated 62.8% 

  • Nose – Spice, fruit, basil and mint, not just herbal… it is like a chutney, very sweet fruit, then shifts to dark rich bitter chocolate
  • Palate – “What the F@%k!” Exceptional. An elegant peat. Cinnamon spice. a light brine, very dry.
  • Finish – Long spice peat…
  • Water – Absolutely no temptation to add

There was absolutely nothing off… very well crafted, the kind of whisky that will make you stop and pay attention.

Here is what the folks at La Maison du Whisky has to say?

One of this Amrut’s undeniable charms (of which there are many) is the construction of its aromatic and gustatory palette. Like the peat that gradually tames an olfactory opening of rare power. After taking the upper hand, like an inspired sculptor, it tastefully chisels out a palate and finish with an almost sensually smooth texture. In this, it is every bit as good as the magnificent version also aged in a port cask which, in our 2017 Creation Catalogue, majestically marked La Maison du Whisky’s 60th anniversary.

Profile: the very powerful initial nose is hot, mineral and camphoric. Little by little, an oily, earthy peat envelops the aromatic palette. Equally as present on the attack, this peat gradually becomes sweeter (apricot tart). The finish is malty and full of freshness. Lightly tannic, the end of the palate is herbaceous and floral.

Single Cask no. 2713 – Port Pipe
Limited edition of 420 bottles
Exclusive to LMDW

Curious about other Amrut tasting experiences?

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Amrut Fever Club Con-Fusion 46%

Fever Club is a collection of whisky ardent Amrut fans… With a passion that has even prompted special bottlings like this. The “Con-Fusion” expression seems to be a variation on the “Fusion” theme produced and bottled in India on sale only for the select few for Rs 3,000 (that’s just under $50).

We had the pleasure of sampling it together with India’s Malt Maniac – Krishna Nakula – on a warm March evening…

Amrut Fever Club Con-Fusion (2017) Release No 1, 46%

  • Nose – Fresh citrus, spice, some nuts, flirtatious, a bit of lactic acid, is there a hint of peat? A light puff of smoke
  • Palate – Light soft creamy, milky nougat, white chocolate, burnt almond, has a lovely balance
  • Finish – Not much then the 2nd sip it is there with a nice peat close

A rather enjoyable whisky – the kind you want to simply relax with and unwind. We understand it is matured in ex-Olorosso casks.

Curious about other Amrut tasting experiences?

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An evening with Krishna Nakula

Evenings with Krishna Nakula, India’s Malt Maniac are always a pleasure. This time we meandered through a malty mix.. with our evening featuring a duo from Amrut!

Added to the mix was an amiable amble through the contrasting:

Plus a sniff and swish through:

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Revisiting Johnnie Walker’s Green Label, Kavalan Solist Sherry, Kilchoman

One of the things I really appreciate about our original Mumbai tasting club is that our default is to sample blind. What the means is even something we thought we knew, we have an opportunity to rediscover.

Which was exactly our hosts theme – to revisit whiskies we all know – or at least we thought we did!

Here is what we tried:

With a bonus of Amrut’s Fever Club Con-Fusion Batch No 1, 46%… what fun!

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Whisky Live 2017 – Amrut Kadhambam + Portonova

Just before heading out from Whisky Live Singapore 2017, I popped back to say “ciao!” to the folks at the Paul John booth… Right next to them was Amrut with the gents from the distillery, quite a refreshing contrast from the previous year.

And what did I briefly sample?

Amrut Kadhambam 50% 

  • Nose – Nice and fruity – apricots?
  • Palate – Spice, more fruit, woody, light tobacco
  • Finish – More of the lightly smokey spice

The USP for Kadhambam is that it is both peated and unpeated whisky matured in 3 different casks – Oloroso Sherry Butts, and Amrut’s Brandy and Rum casks.

Amrut Portonova 62.1%

  • Nose – Rich sherry berry like with a Port twist! Almost chocolaty
  • Palate – Dry spice, more dark fruits
  • Finish – Long, sweet, berry concentrate
  • Water – From my quick check, generous dollops of water is a must!

So there you have it! A short, sweet and surface level synopsis of two more Amrut whiskies.

And other Amrut‘s sampled over the years?
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Paul John’s Zodiac Series – Kanya 50%

When I was in Goa at the Paul John distillery early 2017, Michael shared he had plans for a Zodiac series… each whisky named after a sign of the Zodiac, all limited release, likely to be from older stock, each unique.

So when I wandered over to the Paul John booth at Whisky Live Singapore 2017 to say hello to the guys, the 1st Zodiac release – Kanya – was the whisky whipped out with pride… and who could resist an opportunity to try?

It was a sneak peak into a whisky that became officially available early 2018.

Paul John Kanya 7 year 50%

  • Nose – Soft tropical fruits, musty, luscious, fruit drops, citrus sweet and spice, caramel
  • Palate – A real bite, old wood, dry, such character
  • Finish – Long and strong

Overall it was chock full of personality. With a sense of being caught just a moment before being in the wood too long… Marvellous. One I would have loved to settle down with properly.

Other Paul John experiences:

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Sinful Samples – Bunnahabhan, Tullibardine, Millstone, Glendronach, Wolfburn

Tis the season to be jolly… and all that jazz! Yet before all the mad social rounds of the season kicked off, we snuck in a completely chilled out informal sampling of samples…

Call it a “Pajama Drams” night, it had no formality just a few folks, more than a few samples to put side by side to provoke some interesting tasting experiences…

What did we try?

It may seem like a prodigious amount for one sitting but we were a disciplined lot… some sniffing, swishing and spitting went on plus a few swallows, discarding the balance. Sacralige to some but sensible for us.

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Sherry Element – Amrut Intermediate Sherry 57.1%

Next up in our Sherry Elements evening was a complete surprise – An Amrut Intermediate Sherry, part of their core line-up purchased by our host around 7 years earlier.

We sampled it completely blind, with the reveal shared only after sampling all whiskies in the evening.

Amrut Intermediate Sherry 57.1%

  • Colour – It initially struck us incredible – a deep ruby, exceptionally dark. Could it be real? It seemed impossible, til we started to really get into the whisky and then it didn’t seem so improbable after all
  • Nose – Initial sniff was sharp, medicinal dispensary, came across as having high alcohol, homeopathic sulfur, then began to open up… banana, tropical fruits, caramel, a children’s sweet chewable multi-vitamin, lemon hint, the aromas just kept dancing around… needing time to settle…. then prunes, gave a sense of being oily, perhaps some spice… going through several cycles, including tobacco, burnt matches, cocoa, juicy plums, opening up more to reveal different dimensions. After sipping, the aromas revealed clear sherry, peppers
  • Palate – At first quite intense, bitter, sour then Wow! Raisins, cocoa, a clear stamp of “Now this is a whisky!” Sharp, bitter but balanced. Then shifted into orange and chilli chocolate. With a lovely mouthfeel, fabulous balance.
  • Finish – Long, starts like bitter chocolate and ends with sweet
  • Water – We decided this one could have a few generous drops of water…So smooth! The Diwali explosion  of flavours were softened yet retained its full character. Became even sweeter, almost floral, a crisp dosa smell, then more like crepes with the orange really popping out.

It was in many ways a complete chameleon… Hard to pin down, needed time to open up. We thought it could make a marvellous cigar malt – holding its own and pairing well. The nose and  palate were beautifully matched. It was clearly an interesting whisky, complex, the kind where a little goes a long way. A few in the room pronounced it “Stunning.”

And when it was revealed? Amazement. To put it mildly, what we had otherwise sampled of its core line available in India… let’s just say we’d be underwhelmed. Whereas this was a fabulous dram. Leading talk to frustration with the inconsistency of our Amrut experiences. This one was without a doubt a ‘keeper’…

What do the folks over at Amrut have to say?

  • Nose : Instead of the usual biscuit aroma, we now get moist cake. And my word: is it fruity and spicy!! Love the freshly waxed oak floor, too. Brain-explodingly complex and multi-layered with one of the most intriguing sherry-style-bourbon-style marriages on the market
  • Taste : Cracking delivery and entirely unique in form. The structure is decidedly oak-based, but acts as no more than a skeleton from which the juicy sultana and spices drape. Salivating, too, as the barley kicks in powerfully. But the liquorice-orangey-honeycomb bourbon theme quietly shapes the flavour profile; the spices pulse and glow
  • Finish : Quite a chunk of natural caramel quietens the more exuberant characteristics; long and elegant

What did we sample in our “Sherry Elements” evening?

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