Distilled & Owned by: John Distilleries in Goa, India.
Still Type: Pot Still
Spirit Type: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Age Statement: 7 Years
Strength: 50% ABV
In 1996, Mr. Paul P. John founded John Distilleries in Goa, on the west coast of India. Their flagship brand, Original Choice was created for the Indian market and in 2018, it was the 7th best selling whisky in the world with more than 11 million cases sold. While John was living in the US, he discovered single malt whiskies and decided to make his own.
In 2008, John completed the instillation of his pot stills and began distilling malt spirit from six row barley grown north Indian foothills of the Himalayas. Situated on the eastern edge of the Arabian Sea, Goa is known for having both high temperatures and high humidity. To better manage the maturation of the whisky John set up two separate barrel warehouses. A 4000 barrel underground warehouse slows the whisky’s maturation and lost angel’s share because it is both cooler and less humid. While the 6000 barrels in the above ground warehouse are expose to the heat and humidity of Goa, which speeds up maturation and causes the barrels to lose more alcohol. The result is a wide range of barrels that can be blended to produce different expressions. In 2012, John and master distiller Michael D’Souza launched “Brilliance”, an un-peated non-chill filtered Indian single malt whisky. Today Paul John produces three core single malts and a number of limited expressions.
In 2017, Paul John launched their zodiac series of limited release whiskies named and blended to match the characteristic features of the Indian zodiac. The first in this series was the virgin Kanya (Virgo) and meant to be an “earthy, feminine [and] sensuousness” single malt. D’Souza used barrels that were a minimum of seven years old and bottled non-chill filtered it at 50% ABV.
Nose: The nose is beautiful and inviting with layers of fruit, nuts, caramel, vanilla, and wood. As it sits, tropical fruit aromas of banana, under ripe mango and green apple peal intertwine with notes of cooked oats, seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla, and honey.
Palate: On the palate, the whisky is light and smooth with a balanced mix of grain, wood, and caramel. At 50% ABV the whisky glides across you tongue with zero burn and lots of flavor.
Finish: The finish is long and soft with lingering flavors of cashews, malt and a touch of honey.
Conclusion: Kanya is a delicious malt whisky that shows excellent balance between the distillate and the barrel. In my imagination, aging whisky in India for seven years would prove challenging given the climate but Paul John did not just copy the techniques of malt whiskies made in cooler climates. Instead, they have demonstrated a firm grasp of how to make an elegant and delicious whisky designed for the climatic conditions of Goa. At over $200 per bottle this definitely should be enjoyed neat with close friends or family that understand the specialness of the whisky.