Paul John Oloroso Cask

This week of reviews of Indian whiskies started out on an unexpectedly strong note with the new’ish Kamet single malt and picked up even more steam with the triple-distilled Amrut 7 yo bottled for Spec’s in Texas. The Kamet was put together from a mix of bourbon, sherry and wine cask matured spirit; the Amrut was from an ex-bourbon cask. Here now to close out the week is a sherry cask whisky from the Goan distillery, Paul John. I visited the distillery in 2020 (read about it here) right before the pandemic hit. I remember seeing sherry casks in the warehouse but didn’t hear anything about their plans for that spirit—I was on the basic tour; it’s possible they say more about their cask programs if you sign up for the tasting following the tour. Anyway, I don’t know if they’ve released any full-term sherry matured whisky. This is a oloroso finish bottled at 48% (there’s also been a release of a cask strength 7 yo oloroso finish). As per Whiskybase, there have been at least four numbered batches in this series and their Whiskybase scores are all over the map. I have to confess that I don’t know which batch this sample is from (I will check with the source). I do hope that it will provide a good end to this week of Indian whisky reviews. Let’s see. Continue reading


A Visit to Paul John (Goa, January 2020)

While planning our mini-vacation in Goa I’d paid no mind to the fact that the Paul John distillery is in the state. Imagine my surprise then to see a sign not too far from where we were staying in Velim in South Goa that said that the distillery was a mere 10 km away. I asked the driver we had engaged for the stay about it and he said they had recently opened a shiny new visitor centre and that it was quite popular with tourists. And so it came to pass that on our last full day in Goa we took an hour’s detour from lunch to visit Paul John. While the family hung out in the fancy visitor centre and exploited their wifi, I did the basic tour. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Paul John 2009-2015, Peated (Malts of Scotland)

Paul John 2009-2015, Peated, Malts of Scotland
Here is the second Malts of Scotland Paul John cask. I was very pleasantly surprised by the unpeated cask I reviewed on Monday. That one was distilled in 2011 and I wondered if that marked an improvement in production processes at the distillery. Well, this one was distilled in 2009; if it too is better than its official peated sibling (see here) that hypothesis will be discounted. If you read that earlier review you’ll remember that while I liked it fine I thought the peat there merely covered up the flaws of the unpeated official Select Cask; in particular, masking the strong notes of raw wood present in the Select Cask. What will be the story here with (presumably) a couple more years of maturation? Keep in mind that a couple more years in India is not the same as a couple of years in Scotland or Japan in terms of evaporation etc. By the way, if anyone knows what the source of Paul John’s peated barley is, please let me know. I assume it comes from Scotland but some verification would be nice.  Continue reading

Paul John 2011-2015 (Malts of Scotland)

Paul John 2011-2015, Malts of Scotland
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.  Continue reading

Paul John Peated, Cask 739

Paul John Peated, Single Cask 739, Bresser & Timmer
Here in quick succession is a second Paul John. Unlike yesterday’s Select Cask Classic this one is a single cask and it is also peated. The cask was bottled for the Dutch outfit Bresser & Timmer. That is where my information ends. As to where the malt was peated, I’m not sure. I know Amrut imports peated malt from Scotland for at least some, if not all of their peated releases—it’s almost midnight as I’m typing this and I’m too lazy to check if it’s all for all of them: is there such a thing as Indian peat? Anyway, maybe somebody with better information will chime in.

I opened this as well at the same tasting that featured yesterday’s bottle and it fared a lot better than that one—a couple of people even had it as their top whisky of the night. Let’s see if this has also improved as the bottle has stayed open for a week.  Continue reading

Paul John Select Cask Classic

Paul John Classic Select
Most people associate Goa with Russian drug dealers but there’s also a distillery there. It’s apparently been around since 1992, which makes it far younger than Amrut. They’re also more recent to the single malt game but this doesn’t stop them from labeling their product “The Great Indian Single Malt”. Oh, in case you’re wondering about the name, the company is named for its chairman, Paul John, a man who the company’s website informs us is “[G]uided by his singular passion, tomes of wisdom and the extraordinary skill of his Master Distiller”. This Master Distiller is one Michael John—presumably a relation. It’s not clear from the website, however, where he acquired his experience—homegrown? abroad? Their barley is homegrown—give or take a couple of thousand kilometres (it’s Himalayan)—but the casks they mature their spirit in are made of American white oak, and I *think* these are all ex-bourbon. The equipment was set up by “experts from the UK” who must also have conveyed the importance of empty marketing blather: nosing and tasting their malts will apparently “bring alive the many facets of Goa”, “will truly transport you to Goa”, enable you to “[S]avour Goa by taking the tiniest of sips” and so forth. They may be new but in some ways they already seem very familiar.  Continue reading