The first time we tasted Paul John Indian Single Malt, there was a buzz of excitement in the room. It was at the Sydney Whisky Live event, and whisky friends tasting their way around the exhibitors were quick to point out to one another, “Have you tried Paul John whisky from Goa?”
Paul John whisky's beginnings go back to 1992 when Founder/Owner Mr Paul P John founded John Distilleries and the flagship brand of the company, Original Choice, became one of the best selling brands in India, a path that led to creating single malts.
Mr Paul John visited Sydney this month and attended a meet and greet event at J&M Whisky Bar hosted by Dramnation and Sydney Cocktail Club. A select handful of whisky media was invited for an informal chat with Mr Paul John, owner and producer of the Paul John single malt whiskies.
During the course of the evening, we were offered a tasting of several other expressions of Paul John, starting with Paul John Brilliance, Paul John Oloroso Cask Single Malt, Peated 55% ABV, and a single cask bottling of Paul John Cask 987 bottled exclusively for the Oak Barrel.
Below are keys points that were discussed during the intimate one hour session:
The distillery was established 12 years ago and Mr Paul John's vision was to create a world-class single malt and followed to the Scotch whisky rules for making single malt. Currently, India only has two producers of single malt, Paul John and Amrut.
The flagship brand of John Distilleries, Original Choice, is produced across 7-8 locations in India while Paul John Single Malt Whiskies are produced and distilled in just the one location, Goa in India. Up until the last 12 months, all production was set for export but it has since launched in the Indian market. In the last two years, the distillery has doubled its capacity. It now produces 6000 litres a day with production running 24/7. Currently, 150 people work in the distillery.
Maturation occurs in mainly ex-Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam casks. Paul John whiskies bear no age statements with no plans to do so as the angels' share is very high in a hot climate.
The type of barley crop used in India has the utmost influence on the defining characteristics of the whisky. It yields less barley and more husk which Mr Paul John terms as “husk influence”. The barley has less sugar (ie a lower ABV spirit) and more oils, hence it is bottled non-chill filtered at 46% ABV.
When it comes to the Peated expression, this is imported from Scotland. The Peated 55%ABV expression on taste contains a combination of peat from Islay which contributes an iodine character and peat from Aberdeen which adds grassy notes.
The highlight of the tasting was the Paul John Oloroso Cask Single Malt. Below are the tasting notes.
Paul John Oloroso Cask Single Malt is the first ever and only Oloroso cask by John Distilleries Ltd. The singular cask yielded just 252 bottles thanks to the high angel's share is high in India, with 8-10% evaporation. Only 18 bottles have been allocated for Australia and this whisky is sure to sell out.
Bottled at 57.4% ABV, Paul John Oloroso is initially matured in an ex-bourbon barrel for three years followed by four years in an Oloroso sherry cask. Like the rest of the Paul John whiskies, it bears no age statement.
On the nose, an interplay of bourbon and sherry characteristics are evident, neither too dominant at first. Rich, spicy with hints of vanilla, the aromas. The palate explodes with the richness of sweet red fruit, caramel, vanilla, spice and subtle nuttiness of almonds. In spite of its ABV, it remains silky, smooth and well balanced with a chewy mouthfeel developing on subsequent sips. The finish brings notes of dark chocolate and subtle oak. It lingers beautifully long and invites another sip.
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