Paul John Bold 46% – Bold is back and even better!

After the Japanese Hakushu, our journey from East to West brought us to our own shores… India.

Our original Mumbai based tasting group is no stranger to Goa’s answer to world whisky – Paul John. We found promise in PJ’s Edited back in January 2015, then had a highly sociable evening exploring a Paul John whisky flight in March 2015.

Since then, I’ve sampled various bottles and batches – including with our Whisky Ladies –  yet not with our ‘original’ tasting group and our strict ‘blind tasting’ approach.

Til January 2017… When our host thought it was high time to bring out Bold Batch #4 (Sept 2016) 43%.

Here is what we found:

  • paul-john-boldNose – Immediate ‘Hello peat, how nice you could drop by!’ Think leather saddles or high quality soft leather shoes, wet rice, fermented barley, old wood, sweet soap, new rubber sole shoes, citrus spice and everything nice!
  • Palate – Honey spice and such a contrast to the nose. The bold peat aromas became a very soft, mild peat on the palate with a beautiful mouthfeel. There is a light spice that just settles in for an enjoyable evening… overall it is exceedingly smooth
  • Finish – A nice curl of spices
  • Water – Becomes sooooo sweet, the leather is still there but takes on a more luxurious quality, a hint of bacon peaks out (mmmm…. bacon!)

Overall this is the kind of whisky we enjoy. It seemed to be using good quality casks, and while peat was very much present, it was quite a different from a typical Islay ‘in your face’ or ‘retro smoke’ peat quality. Instead we found the peat much more rounded and smooth. In short it was a most enjoyable dram – one you could quite sociably sip with friends.

As we began to speculate, it was clearly not a traditional Islay… and our host dropped a hint that it received Jim Murray’s 2016 “Liquid Gold” rating of 95.5 (Batch #1). While we often do not agree with Mr Murray, in this case our delight in the dram was aligned.

And the reveal… Paul John Bold?!? Wow!

In short – Paul John Bold is just getting better and better! And mighty impressive – particularly for the price point and availability in India.

Just to put into perspective – Bold is available for only INR 2,800 (approx $40). These days we are hard pressed to find such an enjoyable whisky below $100 and that too – only outside of India – vying against a precious import ‘quota’ of 2 Litres per person.

We sampled Bold’s Batch #4 and while my Batch #1 is long gone… before draining its last drop, it had become a favourite “home dram.”

So bravo Paul John on the Bold front!

Other whiskies sampled that evening included:

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Revisiting the Paul John Bold 46%

As I’m in UK/Canada, prepared this post during a sweltering Mumbai May evening for your reading pleasure while I’m off gallivanting… read on…

Whenever possible, I like to revisit a whisky for a 2nd opinion. While I absolutely love sampling with others, there is also something to be said for sipping solo and distilling your own unique impression.

When the Whisky Ladies first sampled Paul John Bold, we found it enjoyable but slightly tame. In part this was because we had it after the fabulous Peated. In short, it was overshadowed.

At the time, I expected to soon revisit after our first brush with Bold but it took a quiet evening in May to finally pull it out and sample solo.

2016-05-08 Paul John Bold
Here’s what we initially found with Bold Single Malt NAS 46% compared with what I found solo…
  • Nose
    • Whisky Ladies: Bergamont, light, restrained, not quite sweet, a sense of being a bit more sophisticated, with a little vanilla
    • Whisky Lady revisit: Much sweeter and more ‘malty’ than I remembered, some citrus or tart green apple rather than the burst of tropical fruits I normally associate with Paul John expressions, a pronounced curl of peat too which we missed in our initial tasting. Yes honey too with a vegetal spicy undertone… as it aired became even a bit milky?
  • Taste
    • Whisky Ladies: Dare we say… after a name like BOLD we expected the whisky to jump out at us, swaggering into our senses… instead it was… um… almost tame? Light, honey sweet, some citrus, a puff of smoke, lovely but a step back from the luscious Peated
    • Whisky Lady revisit: More burn and ‘oomph!’ than I remembered…. some coffee and malted cereals, delightfully peaty
  • Finish
    • Whisky Ladies: Here was where we found peat – a lightly peaty finish with walnut. Some found it slightly bitter, others found it wasn’t bitter at all – particularly when compared with the bitterness of  the Edited finish
    • Whisky Lady revisit: Nice and peppery, still find the bitter walnut, oak and a hint of cinnamon spice

Did I agree with our initial assessment? Yes and no. Once it sang solo, Bold stands out.

I also found it went well with water and… yes… I will admit, a cube of ice kicks up the spice while cooling the dram – most welcome. What can I say? It is May and hot in Mumbai!

Whereas if I was to pick a season for this whisky? I’m reminded more of fall, all leafy, wood fires and crisp cool air. As I stared my risotto slowly cooking, couldn’t help tip the bottle to add a splash. Bold added a dash of spicy smoke – yum!

2016-05-07 Paul John Bold

The Bold I sampled was from Batch No 1, released in Aug 2015. I understand it is made with Indian barley smoked using Islay peat to around 25ppm. This is different than a short-cut many other distilleries outside of Scotland adopt, which is to import peated barley rather than go through the process of importing just the peat to then play around with peating desi barley.

Here’s what the folks at Paul John have to say about Bold:

Bold is a journey that leads you down the unexplored, unchartered terrains of Goa. It offers you a slice of its best-kept secrets, unravelling the mysteries, bit by little bit. This expression of ours invites you to leave the trail, tread the path less taken and plunge headlong into the delicious depths of Goa.

  • Nose – After the slightest whiff of smoke, a dizzying array of Manuka honey, prickly spice and bourboneque red liquorice takes over.
  • Palate – This melt-in-the-mouth malt has the most profound flavours crashing in like waves. At first, the delivery feels sublimely silky and studded with oak-like honey. And just when you think you’ve savoured it all, you are surprised by a hefty second wave of spice. This is followed by a cloudy, smoky feel that coats the roof of the mouth and leaves a tidal wave of dry molasses, peaty soot and a degree of copper in its wake.
  • Finish – Bold has a light finish with a tinge of copper slowly making its presence known. You can also sense a gorgeous smoked mocha shaped by delicate and intricate spices.

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Whisky Ladies Go Goan! Paul John Quintet

After our Whisky Ladies conquered a cask strength Diwali and then went on a mini ‘world tour’ in November, you might think we would go slow for December. After all – our collective livers need to survive the holiday season!!

What we decided instead is to go Goan.. in honour of a merry malt member abandoning Mumbai for SanFran. She, quite understandably, wanted to squeeze in every desi moment remaining. Naturally this was a perfect excuse to pull out the Paul John expressions, courtesy of master distiller Michael John.

Paul John is India’s “other” single malt whisky distillery found in South Goa. Since launching their first whisky to the world in 2013, they have been making their mark.

We were first introduced to Edited in a blind tasting early 2015. Then, Michael reached out with a generous offer to send our tasting group more expressions leading to a most enjoyable evening! After those bottles were gleefully polished off, came a new set with the brand new Bold expression added to tempt our Whisky Ladies…

Whisky Ladies Paul John Evening

Whisky Ladies Paul John Evening

Here is what the lasses thought!
  • Nose – Caramel, mango, papaya, jackfruit a whiff of ahem.. Formaldehyde, then a chocolatey flavour when ‘aggressively’ inhaled
  • Taste – Sweet with lots of caramel, buttery caramel popcorn, marzipan, a little malty too
  • Finish – Soft and easy… warming… a bit of black pepper, slightly bitter finish a la dark chocolate
  • Water – Better… much better
  • Comments“A step up from Blue Ribbon and Old Monk! Multiple steps…. Possibly full flights” “A good ‘intro’ whisky for new whisky ladies”
  • Nose – Bursting with fruit especially pineapple, more citrusy than Brilliance. Soft butter, a curl of peaty smoke playing peek-a-boo… a little cocoa, most of all… it is “Like breathing in pina colada!”
  • Taste – Hugely sweet rush, smoked pineapple with a hint of banana, has a bit more of a ‘manly’ kick, meatier and richer, some woodsy spices
  • Finish – Some found it unremarkable, others found a sweetish note with a hint of bitter, perhaps a dash of oak. One remarked “Better than most recent dates!”
  • Water – Much preferred with a few drops of water
  • Observations – Pairs well with food – especially cheese!
  • Nose – Back to being almost overly fruity! This time with a hint of floral elements, some lemon citrus sweetness, a bit of caramel, white pepper, with a good inhale – heavy vanilla, lots of white pepper and some sage
  • Taste – Sweet and a bit spicy if you take a serious swig, hold and let it linger. Nice warm burn.
  • Finish – A bit of a bitter aftertaste, yet still sweet – almost like cough syrup
  • Comment“It is making us nice and warm… but alas not hot.” 
  • Nose – Yum! Now we are talking! Delicious bacon jam, some pastrami, think procsutto and cantaloupe, with a caramel glaze
  • Taste – Hickory, smokey, warm and sweet, rich, a little rough with character – in a way that we like! Fabulous balance of peat and sweet, fruit and earthy elements. Again – yum!
  • Finish – Leaves its mark like a scratchy stubble burn…
  • Water – A little citrus orange high note peeps out then settles back into bacon goodness
  • Comment “It is like a really GOOD Canadian man – Bacon, maple syrup, lumberjack fantasies and ice hockey!”
  • Nose – Bergamont, light, restrained, not quite sweet, a sense of being a bit more sophisticated, with a little vanilla
  • Taste – Dare we say… after a name like BOLD  we expected the whisky to jump out at us, swaggering into our senses… instead it was… um… almost tame? Light, honey sweet, some citrus, a puff of smoke, lovely but a step back from the luscious Peated
  • Finish – Here was where we found peat – a lightly peaty finish with walnut. Some found it slightly bitter, others found it wasn’t bitter at all – particularly when compared with the bitterness of  the Edited finish.
  • Overall – Character of the whisky contrasts with the name. We realised afterwards, we should have tried it together with Brilliance after Edited, as part of the ‘Trio’ of entry level Single Malts vs the ‘Pair’ of cask strength whiskies. Particularly after the fabulous Peated, the Bold was a bit overshadowed. Me thinks this one needs to be re-sampled just on its own…

As you can see… the Peated was ‘dipped’ into again after our initial tasting. I do believe that is a rather obvious sign that we liked it rather a lot!

20151224_Paul John Quintet

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