Whisky Ladies visit Paul John Distillery

From our first Whisky Ladies Paul John evening, there was interest in making a trip to Goa to visit the distillery. Particularly after Paula’s visit and then mine, we knew it was only a matter of time.

After a few efforts to organize, we settled on August 2019. Flights were booked, an old Portuguese villa arranged for our stay… small group or large… we were determined to finally make it!

And it was COMPLETELY worth the trip. If you enjoy whisky and find yourself in Goa, DO NOT MISS!

Particularly as Paul John Distillery has a lovely visitor centre… That just invites you to  step up and explore…

Pankaj Poorvana greeted us with coffee and a quiz… Which is the world’s most popular whiskey by volume purchased? Apparently it comes from India and is a blend – Officer’s Choice!

With that, we were welcomed into a truly beautiful pavillion, with tiles and furniture lovingly restored.

It was like entering a whisky temple in the middle of a tropical paradise inspired by a Goan Portuguese villa…

Colourfully decorated with paintings by Bianca in the style of Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito Miranda, a popular Goan cartoonist and painter.Before the tour we were brought into a media room where we were shown a video about why Paul John felt ready to make single malt and more specifically in Goa, bringing the “soul of India” to world. The film shared how Paul John has won hundreds of awards with their core line of:

And then our tour began… stay tuned for details on our experience!

Paul John Visitor Centre, John Distilleries
Plot #M21A, Cuncolim Industrial Estate, Salcete, Goa – 403703. (Location available on Google Maps)

Days: Monday- Saturday (Sundays and Public Holidays closed)
Timings: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Contact: +91-74477 88979
Website: https://pauljohnwhisky.com Email: visitorcentre@jdl.in

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Drammers Club is in Mumbai!!!

Another malty memory from 2019 was my first Drammers Club tasting in April… which was a practical cornucopia of whiskies!

For those not familiar, the Drammers Club started in New York and has been opening chapters around the world. For Mumbai, co-president Charlie Prince teamed up with Rohan Mirchandani.

In the session I joined, Charlie shared the intent to anchor Mumbai sessions with an Indian whisky and American  plus other interesting bottles picked up around the world.

The focus for India was Paul John with Yash Bhamre, Brand Ambassador:

  • Brilliance & Edited– I’ll admit, seeing 10 odd whiskies, skipped this pair to focus on sampling those not yet tasted
  • Nirvana 40% – An opportunity to try even before its official launch! It was friendly, approachable, fruity, caramel, easy going
  • Select Cask Peated from Yash’s personal collection, while it didn’t have the pronounced ‘bacon‘ of some editions, it was still a great example of their cask strength peated avatar
  • SMWS 134.3 “Hello Flavour” 56.9% ex bourbon cask, 189 bottles, released 2017… had tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, intense flavours and a delightful finish

And for the American side of the equation?
  • Barterhouse 20 year 45.1% – Easy going creamy and one I’d love to try again in more optimal tasting circumstances
  • Old Commonwealth Postage Stamps of Ireland – A very unique dram that deserves specific attention. I hurriedly jotted down a few tasting notes – Tight black currents and dark berries, black vanilla pods, rich creamy caramel coffee on the nose… Smooth flavorful tea leaf on the palate, a bit queer with the finish initially but harkened back to the nose
  • Heaven Hill Marsala Hogshead Finish (2001/2017) Cask 17074, 46.5% Bottle 13 or 199 bottles – I wasn’t sure about this one, it started off as very musty, nail polish, definitely different funky. However it tasted much better – smooth and sweet, wet fall leaves, berries with spice, finishing with tannin merlot

To round things out, we also explored from Japan:

  • Ichiro’s Double Distillery 46% – Not bad with lots of cantaloupe, honey dew melon, musk melon
  • Ichiro’s Single Grain – I skipped this one – too much of a good thing is, well… too much!

Now I will admit both my pics and tasting notes are rubbish. A crowded noisy bar – no matter how fabulous it is for sociable occasions – just isn’t my way of savouring a single malt. So you will have to forgive my scant impressions. It also cemented my preference for humble low key tasting evenings with a small group of friends over a trio or at most 4 whiskies not over 10!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m delights Mumbai has a chapter and wish the team all the best. Charlie and the gang are definitely bringing greater variety of whiskies to a larger audience – and that surely is a good thing!

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Method and Madness Pot Still Chestnut 46%

The last in our Method and Madness evening was a revisit of their Pot Still Chestnut Finish. We first tried it a few months ago so when we decided on the tasting order, thought to close with this one.

Method and Madness Pot Still Chestnut Finish 46%

  • Colour – Dark gold
  • Nose – When first poured had that damp cloth aroma, then shifted into sweet pink bubble gum, very sweet candy, jammy, a bit dusty with a dash of cinnamon
  • Palate – Fruity, more of that sweet berry jam, a bit oily
  • Finish – Finally a finish!

Overall we were surprised with how enjoyable we found it as hadn’t been terribly impressed in our initial experience. We were happy to be pleasantly surprised – particularly as it was a good one to sip while puffing on a cigar.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

Single Pot Still whiskey aged in chestnut casks, a combination of what we’ve always done in Midleton and what we’ve never tried before. It’s not often we stray from the traditional oak, but one sip suggests it was well worth the deviation.

  • Nose – Red liquorice laces, fresh rosemary and mint, grated root ginger
  • Taste – Sweet fruit and spice, cinnamon toast, ripe banana
  • Finish – Aromatic green tea, dissipating fruit and spice, rich wood farewell

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £62.75 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Pot Still Hungarian Oak 46%

Midleton Distillery in Ireland has an experimental line called Method and Madness. They play around with a base of grain, single malt or pot still whiskey, typically matured in ex-bourbon barrels then finished in another barrel. In this case it was a pot still whisky finished in oak from Hungary.

What did we discover?

Method and Madness Pot Still Hungarian Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Yellow straw
  • Nose – First whiff and it came across as quite distinctive – varnish but not your typical old wood polish or young sharp varnish – instead something else. Honeycomb, wood shavings, vegetal oils… shifting into ripe banana mash then fried banana chips. After the 1st sip
  • Palate – A nice spice, sweet liquorice, sweet and smooth
  • Finish – Practically absent, just warm
  • Water – Suddenly what made this whiskey interesting was just gone! The aromas simply faded into nearly nothing. On the palate it softened the flavour but… so what?

No question this came across as being on the young side but the aromas were interesting, had the best mouthfeel of the Method and Madness series so far however the finish was warm but not much more. Overall we decided this was a pleasant but innocuous whiskey.

We set it aside to revisit and guess what? It regained a bit of its character and did rather well paired with a cigar. Just goes to show how it important it is to try different things to see what works best for a particular dram.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

The quest for uncommon casks led us to the Carpathian Mountains of Hungary and the rich volcanic soils that give rise to Quercus Petraea, Virgin Hungarian Oak and Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey – a curious combination, with a very special outcome.

This Limited Edition release is a ‘World- First’ for Irish Whiskey; a Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged in Bourbon Barrels and finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak.

  • Nose – Treacle toffee, toasted coconut, campfire ashes
  • Taste – Silky smooth richness, bittersweet liquorice, dry woodland notes
  • Finish – Dissipating spice, toasted oak, mountain mist

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £80.95 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Single Malt 46%

Our Irish Method and Madness quartet explored the core trio plus on limited edition. We began with the Single Grain and moved on to this Single Malt.

What did we think?

Method and Madness Single Malt French Limousin Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Bright light gold
  • Nose – Honey mash, oats, vanilla, young varnish. After the 1st sip, unripened bananas, raw sawdust, oatmeal porridge with honey
  • Palate – Started a bit bitter with peach pits, linseed oil
  • Finish – The odd bitter oil continued in the finish

The aromas were quite straight forward with little variation – nothing wrong with it but overall unremarkable. Our impression was of a young uncomplex dram. While not particularly ‘friendly’, there was no harshness found in some immature malts.

We set it aside and continued tasting the other Method and Madness whiskies. When we revisited, it had settled in quite nicely and revealed a nice honey quality, a bit of spice, holding its own. Not bad after all then!

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

Single Malt whiskey laid down in Midleton in 2002 finished in a French Limousin Oak. A first for us, resulting in light perfume notes giving way to dry barley and ice cream cone wafer.

  • Nose – Freshly shelled peanut, cereal malt aroma
  • Taste – Cracked cinnamon stick, ice cream cone wafer
  • Finish – Fragrant bon bons, a hint of toasted barley 

Would I agree with their tasting notes? Definitely about the cereal but not so much the balance.

We opened this in November 2019 from a bottle purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange. You can still find it for approx £70.

What else did we explore in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Single Grain 46%

First up in our Irish Method and Madness quartet was a single grain, matured in ex-bourbon barrels then finished in virgin Spanish oak.

What did we think?

Method and Madness Single Grain Virigin Spanish Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Straw
  • Nose – We immediately thought of veggie bhajia, a deep fried desi savoury snack made with besan (chickpea flour)! Behind the vegetable oil, we found some honey, a hint of floral fragrance, with a herbal bitterness. After the 1st sip, the vegetal quality gave way to a nutty vanilla toffee aroma.. shifting into balsa wood or fresh pine
  • Palate – First impression was banana with sharp spice, then it calmed down revealing a bitter ajwain element. A few sips in and the wood increasingly came to the forefront with a bit of vanilla pudding or honey depending on the sip
  • Finish – Soft feeling, coats with warmth but nothing very specifically discernible, more like a shadow of the woody palate than anything distinctive, yet the impression remained
  • Water – Some added water and one thought it completely transformed the grain. Certainly it smoothed and rounded it out more, the spice remained but was tempered and not so honeyed

Overall we found there was more character than expected in a grain. The wood certainly came through and could very well be the influence of the time spent in virgin Spanish oak casks.

And the revisit? Nope! Not to our taste. Let’s just say there was a funky sour quality that was thankfully completely missing in our original tasting.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

This release asked the question: What if we take a step away from the familiar with a Single Grain whiskey aged in Virgin Spanish Oak. Without giving too much away, the two made very good partners, with a taste of gentle wood spice playing off the natural sweetness of the grain.

  • Nose – New pencil shavings, light rose petal, fresh rain on pine
  • Taste – Warm toasted oak, fresh peeled grapefruit, zesty wood spices
  • Finish – Sweet cereal, clove spiciness, fresh mint

Would we agree? We certainly found the woodsy quality, floral hint and spice, however we certainly didn’t find the grapefruit on the palate though perhaps our interpretation was bitter with out the citrus element. Overall we were glad to have a chance to try but this wouldn’t be one we would run out and buy again.

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £43.75 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Teeling Brabazon Bottling 49.5% – Sherry Twist?

For those who make it to Ireland and start to explore beyond the big daddy Midleton, known best for its Jameson brand, there are a plethora of options… yet still only a small yet growing number of distillers.

Teeling is one of them and relatively recently launched a new “Brabazon Bottling” series – to explore maturation experiments with fortified wine – kicking off with this Sherry avatar and then launching a Port version for the 2nd series. Our host had tried both and knew to reverse the tasting order so we had the 2nd first and the 1st second. But what matters more than series and tasting order is what we thought!

Teeling Brabazon Sherry 49.5% (Series 1, 02/2018)

  • Nose – Heavier than the Port, dark plums, fruity, sharp cheddar, direct, liquorice, black olives or capers… and after the 1st sip, it was an explosion of Christmas qualities, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, ginger…. then settling into a caramel with a hint of salt and toast
  • Palate – Usual… like a sweet apple and ginger chutney, kiwis, cloves, chocolate… while wasn’t massively complex, it had a strong character, quite tasty with a light Christmas pudding
  • Finish – Beautiful! The finish was really long… really really long… with a curl of liquorice

Early reactions to this one after the 1st sip was “I like it! I really like it!” With comments about how it simply envelops into a nice warm hug… In many ways it was the yin to the yang of the Port with a slower start on the nose, blooming fully on the palate, and slowly tapering into a lingering finish.

Which sparked a lively comparison between the two non-chill filtered Brabazon Bottling boys… Which was preferred? Why?

Some were decidedly against this one. Finding it a bit challenging and lacking in a certain something required to make an appealing tipple. Others had the opposite reaction, really enjoying it.

I’ll admit I was in the 2nd camp and found it an interesting twist on the sociable quality I’ve come to expect from Teeling

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

The Brabazon Bottling Series is a limited edition collection of unique Irish Single Malts capturing the full impact and flavour crafted through fortified wine cask maturation.

Series No. 1 focuses on sherry cask maturation and consists of a range of carefully selected sherry cask aged whiskeys producing a full flavoured sherry influenced Irish Single Malt. This bottling consists of a vatting of 6 different sherry casks, carefully chosen for their complementary character. The Brabazon Bottling Series 1 is bottled at 49.5% ABV with no chill filtration allowing for all the natural flavours of this whiskey to be retained. Limited to just 12,500 bottles, this is a whiskey to savour.

Teeling’s Tasting Notes:

  • Nose – Earthy dried fruit and roasted hazelnut, with marmalade, peach, plum and burnt toffee.
  • Taste – A rich sherry sweetness, red berries, nuttiness and toffee, with a hint of of liquorice and clove.
  • Finish – Lingering mixed spice, trail-mix, crisped marshmallow, dry tannins and spice with toasted wood.

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% – Hot Toddy Time?

After the delightful Glendalough, we were primed and ready for more Irish explorations!

Our Whisky Lady host brought back an interesting duo – a new Brabazon Bottling series from Teeling that explores Sherry in the 1st and this Port in the 2nd. Each series has different bottlings – with month and year on the label.

We started with the Port, bottled in September 2018… What did we think?

Teeling Brabazon Port 49.5% (Series 2, 09/2018)

  • Nose – Cinnamon, wet leaves, wood, musty, camel leather, over ripe apples… then shifted into sweet dry spices of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg… and from apples to citrus orange and apricots… with a lively kick
    • After the 1st sip, became quite sweet – biscuits, a nice custard, lemon chiffon cake. It simply needed time to open into a delicious desert
  • Palate – Hmm… began with quite a bit of oak, tannins, spiced cherries, orange marmalade with bitter orange peel, smooth, shifting between a sour amla and marmalade
    • After some time, we returned and I found it quite bitter, it had a slightly queer or weird character… interesting when it veered more towards a tart marmalade, challenging when it became more like a bitter gourd like karela
  • Finish – Bitter warm spice, like absinthe soaked burnt sugar, a bit sharp…

This one sparked quite a bit of debate. We thought it had an interesting nose that became quite lovely. However the palate was quite mixed.

One lady quipped it was the kind of whiskey that was like a train with a great start but somewhere in the middle “Bro! I need to get to the next station!

And what did we mean by this? Both the nose and finish received a thumbs up. However the taste simply wasn’t for everyone’s palate. Yet for others, this was a clear preference.

For me? I couldn’t help but think of a hot toddy… Something about the finish in particular made me speculate if it might make a rather superb one!

And what do the folks at Teeling have to say?

Jack Teeling, Founder and Managing Director of Teeling Whiskey, commented “Our new Irish Single Malt brings together two famous Dublin family names – the Teelings and the Brabazons. By making reference to the historical Brabazon name, we are telling the story of why our family first came to the Liberties area of Dublin. But more importantly we are telling the story of why we are here now. Our aim with the whiskey was to create a full bodied tasting experience for people who enjoy the added complexity and taste sherry casks impart, and at the same time continuing our goal to expand the spectrum of flavours available from premium Irish whiskeys.”

And specifically anything about their 2nd series featuring port?

Not on the Teeling website that I could find, however the Celtic Whisky Shop folks have these tasting notes:

Taste Smooth and mouth-filling. The fruit characters are fresh and lively with a delicious strawberry shortcake front end backed up by malted grains, vanilla and dried fruits. The finish is drier and oakier with some furry tannins and exotic spices creeping through.
Nose Soft and aromatic with touches of freshly baked fruit loaf, apricots, strawberry jam, dates, fresh figs, honey and malted milk biscuits.
Colour Bright gold with a very slightly pink hue.

We continued on to the Brabazon Bottling with Sherry… and contrasted and compared the duo. Some preferred the Port, others the Sherry. I’d be curious to hear from others familiar with both which they prefer and why?

What else was picked up Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

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Glendalough 13 year Mizunara 46% – A “dreamy” dram!

Our Whisky Lady host regaled us with tales of the bounty to be discovered at the Celtic Whiskey Shope & Wines on the Green in Dublin. She and her husband had their attention focused on the goal of finding a unique Irish whiskey to bring back to Bombay… asking, trying and finally simply being guided by the knowledgeable staff to pick this bottle, available only in that store.

So what is Glendalough?

It is a newer craft distillery in the Wicklow Mountains that makes Whiskey, Gin & Poitín. The man on their bottle is St Kevin, who is credited with founding in the 6th century a monastic settlement in Glendalough. While of Irish royalty, the monk sought out the wilderness and the image is inspired by stories of his standing in water for hours, arms outstretched in prayer…  til a blackbird laid her eggs on his hand, which he then took as a sign, continuing to stand until they hatched. Or so the story goes.

And what made this particular whiskey unique?

Aside from being bottled for the shop, it was their use of Mizunara Japanese oak in the finish, after aging in ex-bourbon casks…

But what matters most to us is… What was the whiskey like?

Glendalough 13 year 46%

  • Nose – Pineapple, sea salt & caramel, a bit of dusty sawdust – white wood – fresh and dry, floral, honey suckle, frangipani, orange and lemon drops, bright and cheerful.. as it opened more, the sweeter it became… dripping with honey, shifting into caramel… then we discovered apple sauce, mango bite candies, vanilla candle wax. Setting aside to come back much later – it was pure marshmallows!
  • Palate – Yum! Citrus, mandarin orange segments, honey, touch of spice, smooth yet with substance, not heavy but a nice orchard fruit swirl, a mix of light sweet spices like clove, allspice, etc.
  • Finish – Continued with the sweet spices, medium, warm and sweet
  • Water – Didn’t even consider it!

A friendly late summer dram, becoming sweeter as it opened. In the end we pronounced it a delightful “dreamy” dram. An easy one to return to, sipping, simply enjoying with no complication or fuss.

And what do the folks at Glendalough have to say?

Extremely rare, and expensive, our virgin Japanese mizunara, comes from Hokkaido, the rugged most northern island of Japan. It is coopered to order in Japan’s only independent cooperage, by Japan’s oldest cooper. Mizunara amplifies much of what is already there while layering on more vanilla smoothness, sandlewood notes and even a little coconut, or gorse flower if you’re from our neck of the woods.

This whiskey has very different and exotic flavours compared with what you’d expect from an Irish single malt. And there’s not a lot of it around! This is one to snap up and savour.

  • The nose. Honeycomb, vanilla, apricot, and citrus. 
  • The taste. Velvety smooth with more vanilla, fudge, rock candy, peach and marmalade followed by sandalwood, cinnamon, and oriental spices. 
  • The finish. Put it this way… “The longest milk chocolate finish in the history of Irish Whiskey” Jim Murray.

In case you are curious, it can be found for €100.00 at – where else? – the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines on the Green.

Here is the Irish trio our Whisky Lady brought back to Mumbai for our sampling pleasure:

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Whisky Ladies Irish Select – Glendalough, Teeling Brabazon Bottling Port + Sherry

Our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai love exploring – both different drams and different parts of the world. So when combined, brilliant experiences are the result! For September, one Whisky Lady shared stories and special selections with us from her recent trip to Ireland!

Her whiskey tour took her all over and she shared how incredibly difficult it was to narrow the choice down to a trio of whiskies, sweetened by special chocolates created to pair with Irish whiskies and music with decidedly celtic notes.

What did we try?

Whisky Ladies Irish Trio:

There was no doubt that the Glendalough was a crowd pleasure but it was an interesting debate between the Port and Sherry Teeling duo – different elements appealed to different women. And it is that diversity that makes tasting together such a pleasure – discerning, discussing, debating over our dram discoveries.

It was also fitting that the tasting notes for our evening were captured on the last blank page of my whisky notebook which contained scribbles from over two years of Mumbai tastings.

This wasn’t our 1st Irish evening… Curious? Here’s a few or check the Irish whiskies page.

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