One of the factors of whisky production that can’t have escaped the notice of any serious drammer in recent years is the emergence of various new producers of premium-standard malt whisky from countries not traditionally associated with the craft. One such country with a high quality output of single malts right now is India, and no distillery from the sub-continent is making more of a noise than Paul John Whiskies, nestled a few miles inland from the Goan coastline on India’s own answer to Route 66.
In fact, the Paul John Peated Select Cask expression we reviewed in this episode has just won the Best Indian Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards to set alongside a host of other selections and commendations.
We were first introduced to this whisky at Newcastle Whisky Festival 2017 in March this year by brand exhibitors, Sorren Krebs and Craig Watson, who were kind enough to join us for a virtual tasting and general whisky chat over FaceTime for this podcast.
We were also delighted to have some input into this episode from Shilton Almeida, UK Regional Manager for Paul John Whiskies, who gave us some fantastic insight over email into what goes into making peated whisky in Goa.
“We are perhaps the first to use peat from two different regions of Scotland, from Islay and Aberdeen, adding several dimensions to the character of our whiskies. Of course due to the environment in India whisky matures differently. The uniform temperature through the year helps the whisky interact with wood rapidly. Every region has its own pros and cons, and in India, especially in Goa, we lose much alcohol as angel share, yet at the same time the whisky is ready for bottling after just 4 years.”
For the playlist we selected – amongst others – some Indian-inspired jazz, The Beatles (Paul John accounting for half the line-up after all), a Rajasthani brass band, Australian-Indian rock and Goan pop.
The conversation with Shilton Almeida, UK Regional Manager for Paul John Whiskies continues…
TIMD: We understand some of your casks are kept above ground, and some below ground. What difference in taste does this provide?
Shilton: In order to provide two different environments within the distillery we have two warehouses at different levels. The underground cellar is cooler and less humid compared to the one at ground level. Whiskies from the underground cellar are elegant and easy drinkable ones, whilst the whisky matured in the upper warehouse is more robust and with a mineral character.
TIMD: The Peated select cask is a NAS whisky – can you give us any idea as to how old the whisky is, and what was behind the decision to go without an age statement?
Shilton: The Peated Select Cask is a 7 YO whisky. In general, whisky consumers tend to compare whiskies, and 7 years is sometimes considered pretty low when it comes to maturation, but what consumers are unaware of is the fact that one year in India is almost equivalent to 4 years in Scotland in terms of maturation.
TIMD: Are there any new or exciting Paul John expressions planned for the near future?
Shilton: After the success of the Oloroso cask release, we plan to have more sherry releases in the future. Also, there are two new limited edition releases to hit the market later this year.
TIMD: What is your personal favourite of the Paul John whisky range of expressions?
Shilton: Being a peat freak, my personal favourite is the Bold. For me its a very well balanced peated whisky.
TIMD: As part of our podcast, we like to create playlists to go with the whiskies we review. This episode will feature a playlist of Indian music. Do you have any suggestions of Indian music for us to add to the playlist?
Shilton: Coming from Goa, I would definitely suggest some Goan folk music. Well, I enjoy this with my whiskies.
Thanks very much to Shilton, Sorren and Craig for taking the time to bring us up to speed with Paul John Whiskies and for their generous input to this podcast.