Goa, India’s Paul John is back with another single malt. Mithuna, and this one swings for the fences, touting right on the box that it is “the 3rd finest whisky in the world,” which is apparently something Jim Murray has decided.
It’s the second whisky in Paul John’s Zodiac series, Mithuna being the Indian equivalent of Gemini. (We have never encountered the first, called Kanya.) The whisky is distilled from Indian six-row barley (not the usual two-row) and carries no age statement, though the distillery says it is at least five years old. It is unusually matured in virgin American oak and finished in ex-bourbon casks before bottling at a racy 58% abv.
As with most of Paul John’s whiskies, the stuff is intense. Bold on the nose with fresh cereal malt and a hoary gunpowder note, that virgin oak barrel makes a huge, cherry impact from the start. A gentle oxidized wine aroma comes from nowhere, however, tempering some of the wood-forward heaviness. The palate finds room for a squeeze of citrus sweetness, with lemon at the forefront, fading to a more traditional caramel note as it develops on the tongue. The finish is lengthy and rich, evoking Pedro Ximenez sherry, roasted nuts, and more of that austere wine character. There’s a youthful brashness at the core of the spirit, but it’s filtered through so many exotic flavors that it’s hard not to be enchanted by it — though I suspect its odd construction might not be for everyone.
116 proof. Reviewed: Batch #1.
B+ / $260 / pauljohnwhisky.com