Paul John Distillery in Goa – Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

As I’m off gallivanting around merry old England then the colonies (aka Canada), am delighted to introduce another guest post by the lovely Paula McGlynn from her tour of Paul John distillery taken while in Goa for a recent film shoot.

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

“Don’t go by the map!” he said. Michael D’souza warned me that I would get lost if I tried to find the distillery by the Google Maps location. .. I didn’t listen and got lost anyway. However, after I realized my folly I turned around and found it the old fashion way; by asking people on the street.

Tucked away in the southern corner of Goa, the Paul John Distillery is to whisky lovers what the Golden Idol is to Indiana Jones… a treasure worth the effort and adventure required to find it!

I first had the pleasure of tasting whisky from Paul John distillery at our December 2015 Whisky Ladies tasting session in Mumbai. While we usually go through many efforts trying to source different whiskies from our travels, this was one night where we didn’t have to venture very far. Michael had generously provided a selection of the entire Paul John range (five different single malts) for our tasting pleasure.

The Paul John Distillery is in a large, earthy red building in a surprisingly quiet and green industrial estate.  Michael D’Souza, the Master Distiller, was soft-spoken and gracious as he showed me around. He explained that they plan to start distillery tours later on this year so make sure you fit it into your next winter trip to Goa!

Paul John Distillery

Paul John Distillery

We started with a walk through the massive storehouse where the whisky barrels are stacked for aging. We then proceeded to the cooler area downstairs where there are again many barrels stacked for whiskies for a slower aging process. Currently, the oldest whisky is bottled at only 7 years of age because the warm Goan climate causes the whisky to take on the character of the barrels and climate much faster than in the cool grey hills of Scotland.  Goa is also considered to be the party state of India, which might help explain why the ‘angel’s share’ is so high. (wink wink)

We proceeded to taste straight from Michael’s favorite select barrels and I sampled both peated and unpeated whiskies. The unpeated was extremely smooth, with tropical banana and coconut, while the peated was rich and nutty with some citrus notes.

After leaving the storehouse we took a tour of the distillery. Before going into the barrels, the alcohol goes through the fermentation processes where the malted barley is converted to a kind of beer. To take a peep inside the chambers is like looking into a giant test tube and watching the yeast form bubbles on top of the liquid. It is then passed through two large copper stills to clarify and concentrate the alcohol. It then goes into charred oak barrels and begins its relatively short (in whisky terms) seven year wait at the Paul John Distillery before bottling.

Paul John Select Cask Peated

Paul John Select Cask Peated

If you are in India, a visit to the distillery is a must because Paul John is currently only distributing the “Bold” and the “Edited” expressions of the whisky within India. However, the entire range must be sampled to understand how versatile and complex an Indian whisky can be! When Paul John Distillery opens for tours it will be possible for people to sample the entire range. Those not living in India can find the entire selection available for purchase in many countries including the UK, France, and America.

When you have a chance to sample, do try for the Peated Select Cask if you’re a fan of bacon and peat! It’s a personal favorite of many of our Whisky Ladies as well.

For your own interest, do check out the website for Paul John Distillery: http://pauljohnwhisky.com/ and slot it into your next trip to Goa.

Also, I have added a new location for the distillery on the map so you don’t need to go Indiana Jones looking for the place if you don’t want to: https://goo.gl/maps/CTNi8bK6mHz

Related posts about Paul John whisky samplings:

Paul John Whisky Evening

Every once in a while our merry monthly malt group breaks with our sacrosanct meeting approach to throw ‘open’ our doors to a sociable evening with better halves. As luck would have it – we managed a full house this month!

The motivation for the evening was a delightful ‘score’ from a recent trip to Goa… With 4 lovely bright bottles of India’s Paul John single malts distilled in sunny Goa, how could we resist?

While John Distilleries has been around in India since 1992, their first Paul John single malt was launched only in late 2012 in the UK. Now a few are available in India (Goa!) and it was a rare treat to try four expressions from the same distillery!

We sampled in the above order – without reading the distillery tasting notes.

Then my partner read out in his rich baritone the Paul John whisky descriptions… let’s just say they are unlike any notes we’ve seen!

All are distilled in copper pot stills and while ‘NAS’ are understood to be matured for 4-5 years in ex-bourbon casks. As I keep being reminded, whiskies matured in warm… ok let’s admit it HOT climes (in the case of Goa) have an accelerated maturation cycle and heightened ‘angels share’ loss. However when done right in such conditions, the whisky sipper is the ultimate beneficiary!

Paul John Brilliance, Edited, Classic, Peated (Whisky Lady)

Paul John Brilliance, Edited, Classic, Peated (Whisky Lady)

An immediate indicator of preference is the quantity consumed. After the initial pour, the bottles are available for further enjoyment. You can immediately see Classic was ‘tops’, followed by Peated then Brilliance. In fairness to Edited, we tried it earlier so a couple of late-comers skipped the sample.

Tasting notes links provided above however overall had the following observations:

  • Clear stamp of being part of the same family – all had a luscious tropical feel yet varying degrees of bitterness on the palate proved none are wimps!
  • Brilliance and Edited are like twins – one with blue eyes the other brown!
  • Some preferred Brilliance’s fruity sweet perfume (blue eyes) over the lightly peated qualities of Edited (brown eyes)… whereas for others it was the reverse
  • Classic shows considerable promise – clear favourite of the four
  • Much speculation over whether the brilliant ‘gem-like’ colour could possibly natural!?

It would be interesting to compare the Paul John expressions side-by-side with Amrut – such as their entry-level single malt or Peated. Based on our recent experience with Amrut, suspect Paul John would come out ahead. However a ‘blind’ head-to-head would still be an enlightening experiment! Particularly as within our group are a range of palate preferences.

Regardless, how fabulous that India is now producing REAL single malts not just the mass-produced blended ‘whisky’ which is often coloured spirits masquerading as whisky.

Comment of the evening summed it up:

“An interesting work in progress!”

And we look forward to seeing what more is to come!

The real test for me?

I think a Paul John just might join an upcoming trip to Canada end June. My Aunt and Uncle have a whisky tasting club. They also quite enjoyed their time in Goa a few years ago…. So bringing a whisky taste of Goa to Canada sounds like a perfect gift!

What others are saying about Paul John:

PS – Wanna see what the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai had to say about Paul John?

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: