From Goa with Love
Paul John Tasting – 17th May 2019
By Jordan Briggs.
On Friday 17th May 2019, we were very lucky to welcome Shilton Almeida and Craig Watson from the Award Winning Paul John Distillery. The Distillery is situated on the Ocean shore in Goa, India.
India has been distilling what they call whisky since the 18th Century, as there was not enough to feed the population, barley could not be “wasted” on distilling spirit, so Molasses is often used. This does not comply with Scotch Whisky Association definition of Whisky, however having said that there are a couple of distillers in India which do make Single Malt whisky in a way that the SWA approve of. Amrut started in 2004, and Paul John, founded by Mr Paul P John, started distilling in 2008, and have been selling in the UK since 2012. To date they have won 230 awards from all round the world, a testiment to the quality of Paul John whiskies.
They source as much of their materials as they can from India, only Casks and Peat are imported. They bring in Peat from Islay and the Highlands, the Highland Peat has less Seaweed content, more moss and wood, so is less medicinal than Islay Peat (Seaweed is where Iodine comes from, hence the TCP, medicinal flavours). They use Indian Barley, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, which is 6 row barley, as opposed to the 2-row grown in Europe. The big difference for distillers is that 6 row barley is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate, more fatty acids, this gives greater texture, a richer, buttery, mouth feel.
As with other distilleries in tropical climates Paul John whisky matures very differently to Scotch, around 4 times faster. There is a cost to this; they lose 8 – 10% a year to evaporation, in Scotland it is less than 2%. Incidentally, Amrut suffer from 12-15% this is because the Ocean air in Goa is less humid, also they can’t really mature longer than 8 or 9 years because the whisky gets too woody. They current have two warehouses, one above ground, which gives spicy oak notes to the spirit. And one below ground, creating a fruity sweet whisky, but still with a bit of spice. They currently store between 15 – 16,000 casks, a new warehouse is under construction with a capacity for a further 8,000 casks. All the casks are Ex-bourbon American white oak casks predominantly sourced from Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels.
Paul John whiskies are unchillfiltered, and they do not use artificial colouring. The whisky is selling well in India, however the local population do tend to favour the exotic imported Scotch Whisky. One of the biggest problems with selling in India is the high tax rate of 150%.
Brilliance – 46% – unpeated, mature in a combination of first and second fill casks for 5 or 6 years. The nose has a buttery, popcorn sweetness, with spice at the back, with a slight honey note.
Classic – 55.2% – Fully matured in first fill casks for 6 years, in the underground warehouse. A slight saltiness on the nose, followed by nuts and a peppery note, also tropical fruits and richer notes.
Edited – 46% – matured for 5-6 years, lightly peated using 75% unpeated whisky, 25% peated using both Highland and Islay peat. There is a dry cereal, fruity note alongside peaty smoke. The taste has a rich sweetness on the finish along with dark chocolate.
Bold – 46% – introduced in 2015, it was Paul John’s first venture into peated whisky, using only west Islay peat, to 30 phenols PPM. It does have a slightly Iodine heavy side, it is balanced out with a large cask influence. Slightly briny nose along with Iodine peat, and spicy oak.
Peated Select – 55.3% – peated to 35 ppm this expression uses both Highland (70%) and Islay (25%) peat, matured for 6 years in the underground warehouse. Although it is technically peatier then the Bold it does not come through as much, sweeter lighter notes come through, and it is far less spicy than Bold, probably due to the underground maturation. Even at 55.3% the alcohol is not to heavy, opens up well with water.
It was a real pleasure to have Shilton and Craig, it was great to meet two ambassadors who have both excellent knowledge and passion for their product. Our sincere thanks to them both.