Origin: Trentino Alto Adige (Italy)
Type: Italian Malt Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Marsala Wine and ex-Islay
Added coloring: No
Owner: Puni (Ebensperger family)
Average price: € 74.00
Official website: www.puni.com
There’s more to life than Scotch, and if, apart from Scotland, the first whisky-producing countries that come to mind are the United States and Ireland, there is a long list of countries that distil their own whiskies, sometimes from unexpected places.
Although the three most popular whisky-producing countries are the most famous, other countries have built up a respectable reputation over time, with recognition for the quality of their spirits: labels familiar to many, such as Kavalan, Armorik, Amrut and Mackmyra, have carved out a permanent place for themselves in the whisky Olympus, and others continue to be added (soon to come from China, thanks to Pernod Ricard).
And in Italy, too, we have had our whisky for a few years now, thanks to Puni, which has been producing new bottlings every year since 2015, which are also appreciated in international contexts.
Located in Alta Val Venosta, in the heart of the Alps, Puni is a distillery that enjoys a truly unique and privileged position, chosen precisely because of the characteristics reminiscent of the Highlands of the north (so much so that the stills used were made in Scotland).
Their whiskies are made from a blend of barley malt, wheat and rye, and their first official whisky bottlings (i.e. aged at least 3 years, previously they had distributed a 2-year spirit, Opus I) were Puni Nova and this Puni Alba. Each year a new label is released with increasing age (though not officially declared), while some casks are currently resting in former World War II bunkers to produce more important aged whiskies.
I’m not privy to the batch of this sample, having been given away at the 2018 Whisky Revolution Festival.
The colour is a beautiful light amber, very delicate.
On the nose, you immediately perceive a light peaty smokiness, a sign that the Islay casks are not just passing through, accompanied by strong sweet and vinous notes, obviously marsalate. Yellow fruit, with a hint of pepper. The nose is not particularly complex, but pleasant: the youth is all there.
On the palate, the alcohol is slightly tingling, and the smokiness of the peat is immediately overtaken by the clear influence of the Marsala: lots of wine, lots of orange, together with candied fruit, spices (pepper again, with cloves) and, after waiting a bit, the return of the herbaceous peat with a hint of minerality. The profile on the palate is more interesting than the one on the nose, with greater variety even if it’s not particularly layered, with the vinous aspect dominating. But for a 3-year-old this is already a remarkable result.
The finish is (very) marsalate, with a touch of citrus, not very long and dry.
For the first expression produced, and for its extreme youth, the end result is truly remarkable: there are older whiskies that are far simpler than this one. I wouldn’t put it at the top of a list of purchases (also because the price is definitely excessive, though understandable), but it’s definitely worth trying.