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Weekend Sip: Just in time for the holiday of Diwali, here’s a special Indian single-malt whisky

The bottle

Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky Christmas Edition 2021, $84.99.

The back story

We associate single-malt whisky with Scotland, of course. But the spirit is made in the United States (just don’t call it Scotch). And in Japan as well.

And don’t forget about India.

In time for Diwali, the festival of lights that is considered India’s biggest holiday, we’re indeed turning our attention to Indian single-malt — specifically, one from Paul John, a producer that introduced its first whisky almost a decade ago.

Not that Paul John, which takes its name from its founder, has the category to itself. Whisky making in India goes back to 1835, according to Paul John master distiller and blender Michael D’Souza. And a number of other Indian brands, such as Amrut and Rampur, have been making their mark in recent years.

It’s also worth noting that India, by virtue of sizable population (nearly 1.4 billion), is the world’s largest consumer of whisky. But high-end brands like Paul John have been looking beyond India: The U.S. has become a particularly important market, with D’Souza saying Paul John’s U.S. sales have skyrocketed by 300% in the past year.

Paul John has many different single-malts in its portfolio, but the Christmas Edition was built around the idea of offering a limited-edition sip tied to the holiday. (And yes, we’re talking Christmas, not Diwali, but the whiskey is now out there.) This year’s release marks the fourth edition, with the brand promising it’s a “finely balanced but nuanced expression of what Christmas would taste like in a bottle.”

What we think about it

This is a tasty little dram — with lots of sweet notes. D’Souza says you should pick up caramel and orange marmalade on the nose and butterscotch and spice on the palate. In our view, it’s not quite got as much depth or character as a great Scotch, particularly one at this near $100 price tag. But it’s a merry sip for the occasion, be it Christmas or Diwali.

How to enjoy it

This is very much a whisky for standalone sipping. D’Souza says to have it neat or with a bit of water.

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