When you talk Indian whisky the first distillery that is often mentioned is Amrut. However, another excellent distillery that shouldn’t be ignored is the fabulous Paul John distillery in Goa, the one I’m taking a look at today.
Not a whisky I’ve had the opportunity to taste before, so I was pleased to be able to take part in a twitter tasting to check out four expressions from their core range.
1) Brilliance: 46% ABV (NAS – NCF) Indian Single Malt Whisky (unpeated)
Released in early 2013 and made using barley from the foothills of the Himalayas. Distilled in traditional copper pot stills in Goa and matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: Slightly spirity, lively with a bit of a nip, a great woody nuttiness comes through along with a touch of spice. Creeping in from the background is a tropical beach. I find this is getting better and better with more time to open up (like 20 mins).
Palate: Builds to a gentle spice which fizzes on your tongue slightly, there’s dusty banana notes amongst malty woodiness.
Finish: Smooth and warming with a really fresh edge to it, the tropical beach I found in the back creeps up on you.
Thoughts: Give this plenty of time to breath. Great value for money dram, tasty and packed with quality.
Available: The Whisky Exchange – £38.45
Edited combines Paul John’s fruity unpeated single malt whisky with some 20-25ppm peated spirit to give a sweet and spicy whisky balanced by an underlying earthy smoke. Distilled in traditional copper pot stills in Goa & matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: The nose for me feels restrained compared to Brilliance, but given time it’s beginning to open out into a more subtle dram. There’s an earthy hit and some peaty hints; if you’re not a peat head you’d maybe miss them. Slight tropical note along with some toffee and leather.
Palate: It’s smoother than the 46% would lead you to think. Slightly dusty, a little sweet, very pleasant. The slight fizz on your tongue found in Brilliance is still there.
Finish: The finish isn’t quite as warming as Brilliance, it’s a longer, slower affair leaving a touch of earthy notes around for quite a good while.
Thoughts: A perfectly great dram, although my palate at the time of tasting definitely prefers Brilliance.
Available: The Whisky Exchange – £42.45
Bottled in 2013 at cask strength. Distilled in traditional copper pot stills in Goa, matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: I’m already enjoying the nose on this more than Edited. This is more punchy, full of tropical fruit sweetness. A much more classic nose really, one that’s very familiar.
Palate: Amazingly smooth for something that’s 55%, it’s similar to Brilliance but defo levelled up a notch! Great stuff. After a while the higher abv is starting to tickle my tongue, a drop of water may work, but I’m not going to!
Finish: Select on the finish has a freshness about it, but maybe a little more muted than Brilliance which is just fine, it’s gently sweet.
Thoughts: Cut from the same jib as Brilliance, and a fantastic dram, but worth the extra money? Not sure.
Available: The Whisky Exchange – £62.95
Produced using peat imported from Scotland (there isn’t any in India). It was bottled in 2013 at cask strength. As with the others in the range this was distilled in traditional copper pot stills in Goa, matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: As soon as it’s poured there’s a relaxing peaty smell that fills the room, fab. On the nose there’s peat, but not your Islay peat, it’s more highland in style, earthy & floral. It’s fairly meaty smoke more than just raw peat, it’s quite finessed.
Palate: The palate has that (trademark?) dustiness along with gentle peat, less in your face peat than you’d maybe imagine from what you found on the nose. As peat goes this is the most tropical peat I think I’ve had in a bit, I’m at the back of some sand dunes somewhere on holiday!
Finish: The finish has the trademark freshness found in the others, but with the floral peat sticking around for ages too. Aces.
Thoughts: Drinking away on this merrily totally forgetting that this is 55%, very smooth, dangerously so, fantastic stuff.
Available: The Whisky Exchange – £67.95
Overall Thoughts: Great quality whisky from Goa. Bang for your buck (I hate that saying!) is Brilliance, good stuff… but if money’s not a worry then I really enjoyed Peated.
Thanks to Paul John for the samples.