We love traveling to new, faraway places. That’s why Paul John Whisky has got us adjusting our seats to the upright position and checking our safely belts. The Paul John Single Malts, Brilliance and Edited, have taken us on a journey. Both in terms of our senses and destination we’re on our way to Goa. Yes Goa.
We’ll be honest, six months ago we didn’t even know the Paul John name. Back then we were introduced to it with a little taste of one of its debut Single Cask releases. And that was enough to set us wondering what was going on whisky-wise in this particular part of India. Now comes Brilliance and Edited – its new flagship Single Malts.
First though a little lesson. Geography? Chemistry? Well a bit of both actually. What we want to get at is what makes Indian whisky different to Scotch. There are after all only three key ingredients going on; grain, water and climate. You don’t have to have a degree in geography or chemistry to suspect that climate might be a very big point of difference. Scotland has a somewhat cooler climate than India (no, really). Scotch generally matures in its barrels at below 10°C, averaging around 1.5% during a year being lost as the ‘angels share’ (that’s what the distillers refer to as the liquid which evaporates during the maturation process). By way of extreme contrast Paul John Indian Whisky is matured in the tropical heat of Goa at temperatures of over 40°C, increasing the speed of maturation and leading to around 10% of ‘angels share’ (lucky angels we say).
Master Distiller Michael John describes it this way, “Whisky matured at these temperatures simply cannot be aged for the kind of time expected with Scotch, even trying to mature our whisky for just 10 years would leave barely a bottle of liquid in the barrel. Fortunately, the heat actually speeds up the maturation process considerably. As a result, whisky that has been matured for just 4-5 years – as is the case with Paul John Edited and Brilliance – is equivalent to a Scotch that has been aged for around 15 years.”
For our part we’ll simply say they deliver an incredibly intense enjoyment. And for us that’s what it’s all about. If you like your whisky on the ever so slightly sweeter side head for Brilliance. There’s a lovely little bit of toffee and richness in there, thanks to it being aged in ex-bourbon, American oak barrels, which makes us want to try it in a Manhattan.
Meanwhile if an earthier note is what rocks your boat then look no further than Edited which is made from a combination of un-peated and a small amount of peated Indian malted barley. It also an appealing subtle salty note that lingers in a most agreeable way. Yes sip it neat or with a little water, but an Old Fashioned also looks to us like a very good idea.
Do yourself a favour, get on the journey to Goa.
Paul John Brilliance £38.49 and Paul John Edited £42.49 are available from The Whisky Exchange