John Distillery – the brains behind Paul John whisky – has been running since 1992 and is currently the third largest whisky brand in India. However, much of this output is comprised of molasses style Indian whisky; very little of which is either seen or consumed outside its home country.
However, recognising the growth in the premium spirits market, the distillery moved into producing single malts in 2006. The Paul John whisky range is named after the distillery’s chairman and has taken the world by storm, with a bespoke collection of high quality whiskies.
Remember, Indian whiskies mature much faster than their Scottish counterparts – Paul Jonh’s home state of Goa has summer temperatures in the mid 30s, with a winter ‘low’ around the 20 degree mark. So don’t be surprised by some of the short maturation periods detailed below.
Paul John Brilliance
Brilliance was Paul John whisky’s first move into the premium spirits market back in 2013. Thankfully, considering its name, it has received much acclaim since then. Made using Indian unpeated 6-row barley from the foothills of the Himalayas, the whisky is matured in bourbon barrels for between three and five years, before being bottled at cask strength.
The nose on this one was quite light and took a bit of getting into. After a while, lots of grains started to come through, and I got lots of melon too. There was also a sweetness that reminded me of Chewits. And a small hint of vanilla comes through from the ex-bourbon cask. The palate was much easier to get into and oozes all kinds of juicy fruits. The overriding profile for me was honeysuckle and melon, with a bit of lemon, and some prickles of warming spice on the finish. Lots of orange on the finish too.
Paul John Bold
Bold by name, bold by nature – this is the distillery’s attempt at a peated malt. Added to the core range in 2015, Bold is made with entirely with Indian barley that has been smoked using Islay peat to a level of around 25ppm.
There’s no hiding from the peat in this dram – it’s like sitting on an Islay, rather than a Goan, beach. It’s from the lighter end of Islay, so either Bruichladdich or Kilchoman. But there are less floral notes and much more fruit on the palate, including mango and passion fruit. There’s also a small whiff of iodine. The bold flavour profile continues on the palate, with more smoke and the pepperiness of Talisker. The rich flavours of salt-studded chocolate and fruity coffee also come through, with a tiny bit of citrus on the finish.
The Brilliance was brilliant! One of the best whiskies I’ve tasted in a while and definitely the best five year old whisky I’ve ever tasted – highly recommended. The Bold is a good attempt at replicating the taste of Islay in India but is slightly lacking in depth of flavour. Still, two great drams!
You can find out more about Paul John whisky over on the distillery’s website.