The newest single malt from India’s most renowned whisky distillery is an absolute sipping delight for your taste buds, and a steal at that. Paul John Nirvana is an unpeated single malt whisky distilled entirely from six-row barley, and matured in charred American Oak casks, much like bourbon.
Paul John Nirvana isn’t a new whisky, but it’s been slow to make its way to the United States, only reaching the UK and similar markets last year. The perennial problem of off-the-radar whiskey is that it’s sometimes just as hard to find as the coveted stuff. A few thousand bottles are all that even arrived stateside of Kanya by Paul John a couple years ago, and the likewise popular Amrut Fusion a couple years before that.
It has become easier to find great bottles in the last few years though, likely due to Sazerac (owners of Buffalo Trace) purchasing a stake in the company in October of 2017. Also, Paul John is calling Nirvana an entry-level bottle, and so the supply should run a smidge higher.
Indian single malts are sort of a hybrid of whiskey styles. They use the same grain and production style as Scottish single malts, but the whiskey ages in American oak barrels, in warm climates far more similar to Kentucky than the Highlands. Because whisky generally ages faster in warmer climates, Indian whisky takes on complex flavors in a shorter time frame.
Though it doesn’t have an age statement, Nirvana (however old it is) is masterfully aged and proofed. At 40 percent ABV., Nirvana is lush and creamy, full of tropical fruits, rich creme brulee and honey notes, and a bold dessert-y, cake-y character.
The first sips recall a southern summer trifle, with buttery cake, overripe banana, and lingering hints of pudding. The finish brings all of these things together again for one long outro, adding just a subtle hint of smoke, even though this is an unpeated whisky.
It’s very much a dessert whisky, but because of the low proof, it’s equally perfect for the first pour or cocktail of the night—bold and rich, but never overwhelming.
As an added plus, Nirvana’s is among the most affordable new bottles we’ve seen recently; the price is around $30 a bottle—a relative steal, considering the universal flavor appeal. (Oh, and it makes an incredible highball with soda and just a hint of lemon.)
Distribution around the U.S. will inevitably be spotty over the next few months for Nirvana, but tracking a bottle down shouldn’t be terribly difficult in most markets. This should definitely be on your radar though—it’s been a hit in the countries lucky enough to get their supply before us.
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