Whisky Review: Paul John Nirvana Single Malt

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– Distilled & Owned by: John Distilleries in Goa, India.

– Still Type: Pot Still

– Spirit Type: Indian Single Malt Whisky

– Age Statement: NAS

– Strength: 40% ABV

– Price: ₹ 3,400

Since 2012, Paul John has offered three core single malts and a number of limited expressions, but in April 2019, they added Nirvana as the fourth member of their core range. Nirvana is an unpeated Indian single malt whisky made from a blend of second and third fill bourbon barrels that have aged for a minimum of three year before being bottled at 40% ABV.

Paul John whiskies are made at the John Distilleries in Goa, on the west coast of India. And, from 1992 until 2012 ,Paul John only sold what is known as Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) which are column still cane spirits designed to mimic international liquors such as blended Scotch. IMFLs are incredibly popular in their home market and John Distilleries flagship brand Original Choice is the 7th best selling whisky in the world with more than 1.1 Crore cases sold in 2018.

However, Paul John’s Nirvana is made like their other single malts, starting with six row barley grown in northern Indian. Single Malt Scotch is almost exclusively made from two row barley because is has a higher starch content, which results in more alcohol. But Paul John believes that the higher fiber and protein content of the six row barley helps create the fruity, floral and honey ester charters found in their whiskies. Once the barley is malted and fermented, it is distilled twice in large copper pot stills: first in the 12,000 liter wash still and then again in the 6,000 liter spirit still.

Image from Paul John

After distillation the malt spirit is aged in one of Paul John’s two barrel warehouses. A 4000 barrel underground warehouse, which due to the cooler temperature and lower humidity, slows the maturation and the lost angel’s share. And a 6000 barrel above ground warehouse which is exposed for greater temperature fluctuations and higher humidity which speeds up maturation and causes the barrels to lose more alcohol. Having two warehouses with two different climates give Paul John a wide range of flavors that can be blended to produce different expressions.


Nose: The nose is a fantastic combination of yeasty malt and tropical fruits. As you enjoy the aroma there are notes of pineapple, light honey, ripe green pears, and gram cracker. It is a beautiful aroma that lingers in the glass and meant to be enjoyed.

Palate: When you first take a sip, the whisky is very bright and crisp on the tongue similar to a minerally chardonnay. Mid palate you notice flavors of passion fruit and honeysuckle as well as light tannins from the oak barrels.

Finish: On the finish, the whisky lingers on your tongue with warm notes of malt, honey gram cracker, and under ripe banana with just a hint of oak.

Conclusion: Overall Paul John Nirvana is a wonderful single malt that is light, bright, fruity and exudes vitality. From the fist sip I was completely enamored with this whisky and I am blown away at how affordable it is for the quality of the whisky. If you like malt whisky and have been looking for a great everyday kind of single malt that tastes great and won’t kill your wallet, Nirvana is it. At only $30 a bottle this is a great single malt that can be sipped neat, or makes a fantastic Highball.


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