I love malt whisky in all its glorious formats. I’m a huge proponent of American single malts (after all, I’m writing a book!), and I cut my whisky teeth on Scotch and Irish whisky. But my new, all-time, utter-and-absolute favorite single malt (that I can afford) is from the unlikeliest of origins: India!
Piccadily originated in 1953 as a family-operated alcohol distributor and expanded to retail, restaurants, hotels, and more over the ensuing years. In 1993, the brand purchased a sugar mill in Patiala and started a distillery, and in 1994, with the purchase of a second mill, it began distilling alcohol. In 2008, Piccadily received the first Indian permit for distilling cane juice, and in 2009, they began importing oak barrels from the U.S.
In 2010, Piccadily built a second distillery in Indri, fashioned after the best of Scotland, replete with a modern malting facility. Then, in 2018, it opened a third distillery in Bawal. At this point, the company began focusing on premium, high-end EU and Scottish-style spirits, phasing out its molasses-based whiskies. In 2020, it launched Whistler, a blended malt aged in ex-fill bourbon and wine casks. Spurred on by multiple awards, it created Indri “Trini” single-malt whisky in 2021, made from indigenous 6-row barley grown in Rajasthan for hundreds of years. According to the website, the NAS (non-age-statement) whisky was “matured with care since 2010.” I’m still trying to understand what that means, so I’m reaching out to Piccadily for clarification. Given its smooth character, I assume at least some of the liquid is “older,” but I’m not 100% sure…. yet!
As I stated, this is a “triple-wood” whisky. The distillate is matured in parts: like Whistler, two parts are matured in ex-fill bourbon and wine casks. However, another cut ages in ex-PX sherry casks, after which all three parts are blended and bottled at 46% ABV. The resulting whisky is a clear beneficiary of triple-wood aging. It picks up specific attributes from each, but none stand out – it’s a beautiful melding of parts into a tightly integrated whole that shines with intense malt and wood character.
Pouring into my trusty Glencairn nosing glass, the liquid appears a deeply coppery amber, the color likely due to the time spent in wine barrels. It immediately bashed me in the face with intensely rich vanilla and caramel. Hand-warming and swirling releases a literal bouquet of aromas: black tea, honey, cocoa, peach cobbler, and winter spices to the front, backed by hints of roasted pecans, mint leaves, cooked cherry pie filling, butter-sauteed mushrooms, and rich loam. This is one of the most complexly layered whiskies I’ve ever sampled.
The mouthfeel is rich, round, and slightly oily, with noticeable sweetness on the entry but drying through the swallow. Butterscotch candy, chocolate cherries, grilled pineapple, and honey lead the flavor charge, along with a backing of roasted nuts, allspice, black tea, and coffee hard candy. The butterscotch intensifies through the swallow, along with the cherries and tropical fruit, but through the luxuriously long finish, the butterscotch and honey overtake the fruit. Finally, there’s a lasting afterglow of winter spices, chocolate, butterscotch and tropical fruit.
I almost hate to gush about this whisky, as I worry they may want to raise the price. It’s ridiculously inexpensive, especially for the quality. Don’t believe me? Simply review the numerous awards won and positive reviews received, and you’ll know Indri is a terrific whisky. Will it overtake stalwart sherried Scotch powerhouses like The Macallan or The Dalmore? Probably not. But in a price-point matchup against even the big-name brands, my money is on Indri. I can’t wait to see what they dream up next!