Paul John, as you may know, is the new(ish) Indian single malt distillery (there’s one even newer actually but let’s leave that for another time). I reviewed two of their official releases in early May—one an ongoing distillery release (the Select Cask Classic) and one an official bottling for Bresser & Timmer, the Dutch bottlers (the peated Cask 739). I was not overly impressed by either of those. Both were drinkable enough but the Select Cask had a little too much raw wood and the peated single cask masked those flaws with smoke but didn’t do much else. Neither suggested to me that Amrut were in danger of being trumped by their countrymen. As such I was not in a big hurry to taste the two independent releases I had also purchased samples of. Both of these were released by the German bottlers, Malts of Scotland: both are bourbon matured; this one, like the Select Cask, is unpeated; the other (which will be reviewed on Wednesday) is peated. I don’t have my hopes too high: let’s see how it goes.
Paul John 2011-2015 (60%; Malts of Scotland; MoS cask 15066; bourbon barrel; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Honey and a lot of it; some orange peel too and some spice (clove, cinnamon). After a minute or so there are some malty and slightly gingery notes too—rounder on the whole now. Sweeter and brighter with water: raspberries with some floral notes and then quite a bit of lemon peel and apricot and hints of muskier fruit; after a minute or so there’s a lot of citronella.
Palate: Starts out with the honey here too and there’s quite a lot of citrus behind it (orange). Some woody bite too but nothing overbearing or astringent—and that bite might be as much from the alcohol as the wood. As on the nose, it’s maltier and slightly gingery on the second sip, and now far more peppery as I swallow. Let’s give it some air and then some water. The citrus gets a little more intense with air/time and the ginger gets a bit stronger: this needs water. Nothing very new with water but the bite recedes and the citrus expands (as on the nose, lemon replaces orange).
Finish: Long. The citrus fades leaving bright spicy notes in its wake. More peppery as it goes. Less peppery with water.
Comments: This is much better than the Select Cask Classic. As that was released in 2013 I assume this was from a much later distillation run. This suggests quite a bit of improvement at the distillery (caveat: this is just one cask). If this is consistent/reproducible then that’s very good news. I liked it better with water. Now, what will the story be with the peated cask?
Rating: 87 points.