Paul John Classic Select Cask 55.2%

For those joining in only now… the gift of a Paul John Quartet provided an opportunity to sample four whisky expressions from Goa. Of the quartet, the Paul John Classic was a clear favourite for many!

Paul John Select Cask Classic

Paul John Classic Select Cask 55.2% (Whisky Lady)

The Paul John Classic Select Cask is an unpeated single malt whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels and bottled without chill-filtration at cask strength.

Paul John Classic Select Cask NAS 55.2%


  • Instant ‘very nice’, sense of this being more what we would expect in a whisky, lots of tropical fruits, fresh-cut grass. Not in the least peaty. A whiff of toasted coconut. As it breathed, gained a musky quality like a mens cologne. Then some basil, lemon and honey.
  • Cognac-like, almost zesty, very complex, cupcakes, grapes
  • “I’m expecting a really nice cognac but I’m sure it can’t be that tasty..” (quote from a serious cognac fan)


  • Strong, bitter, banana, coffee, pepper, honey and rasins, figs, more body and more viscous than Brilliance or Edited, a bit of allspice
  • Sugary sweet, marmalade, chocolatey caramel, banana, brown sugar, like caramelised Caribbean bananas with rum raisin sauce
  • A light fresh quality yet balanced and rich with enough going on to keep it interesting…
  • “Wow! Oh good god! It’s delicious! Even better than cognac!” (cognac fan quote – highest compliment he can give!)
  • “An almost tequila-like agave sweetness”


  • Nearly all remarked this was the first Paul John Single Malt sampled with a ‘serious’ finish that truly lingered
  • Some found it started slightly bitter then took on a minty mellowness
  • One simply remarked – “Time to do a happy dance!”


  • A few found a few drops balanced it out and softened further
  • Most preferred it neat and found it delightfully smooth ‘as is’

Overall impressions:

There is a hot sunlight summery quality to Classic. It has the richer bourbon dimension, bursting with ripe juicy tropical fruits along with spicy elements yet there is something bright and fresh too. Perhaps it was influence of the Guyanese / Caribbean connect in our midst the 2nd tasting session or that we were sweltering in Mumbai’s humid summer heat, yet there was a sense this whisky has  lazy tropical sunshine down pat.

Particularly in the informal evening, it was the clear favourite with folks quite impressed. Most could not believe how smooth it was… particularly for a cask strength whisky. To have such a whisky be from India – let’s just say there was a swell of pride by extension for the country we call ‘home.’

When compared with India’s better known Single Malt producer Amrut and – more specifically the whiskies sampled in March with Jim Murray – there was a recognition that Paul John has something quite interesting going on. Certainly worth paying attention to – particularly the quality Classic has captured. The only pity is that Paul John whiskies are not yet available in Mumbai!

Paul John Classic

Paul John Classic (Whisky Lady)

And the Paul John tasting notes for Classic? Here goes…

Feel the tropical tastes of Goa from the first whiff and taste.

This is a masterfully crafted Indian Single Malt  Whisky, matured in selectively chosen cask profiles.

The barley shows early and with pride. A bourbon manic honey-liquorice mix makes for an attractive spine with toasted honeycomb arriving somewhere in the middle unexpectedly.

This is as tropical as it gets.

Paul John Classic label

Paul John Classic label (Whisky Lady)

Sampling quartet – all NAS:

Paul John Quartet

Paul John Quartet – Brilliance, Edited, Classic and Peated (Whisky Lady)

What others are saying:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on:

Paul John Brilliance Single Malt NAS 46%

I was first introduced to a Paul John single malt in January 2015 with their mildly peated Edited. It was bought by one of our tasting club members on a trip to Goa. Our merry samplers were honestly surprised to discover it was a single malt from India and our overall impression was that it showed promise and made us curious for more.

Paul John Quartet - compliments of Michael John

Paul John Quartet – compliments of Michael John (Whisky Lady)

After my post on Edited, Michael John, master distiller for Paul John, reached out with a kind offer to send a few expressions for us to try. Naturally we were thrilled! It is rare to compare different expressions from the same distillery – then to have that be from India?! How could our desi hearts resist!

Fortunately I already had a trip to Goa planned so had visions of throwing into my bag a couple of small bottles… the reality was a wooden crate filled with a Paul John Quartet sufficient to fuel more than one tasting session!

Hence Paul John Single Malt ‘Brilliance’ was sipped on two occasions:

  • Monthly private single malt tasting group in an informal Paul John Evening with significant others
  • Sociable yet focused tasting with a few friends – for once notes were jotted down by someone other than myself (in far better penmanship!)

As I was the common thread, did my best to keep ‘mum’ to not influence others experience… you will see some overlap but also a few different perspectives too in the tasting notes.

Paul John Single Malt Brilliance NAS 46%


  • Paul John Brilliance

    Paul John Brilliance (Whisky Lady)

    Initial pour from newly opened bottle rewarded us with an immediate wash of jackfruit aromas which dissipated, strong ripe fruit, medicine capsule like b-complex, vanilla, faint nutmeg, overall quite sweet with a cognac-like quality. As it aired longer, had a sour curd element, tinge of leather beneath a lavender perfume. One even noted a punch of vinegar?

  • For the open bottle samplers – We found rich honeycomb, cinnamon, a hint of toasted almond, peppery notes, woody oak element, delayed accents of fruit – papaya and apricot, strong aroma of maple syrup after even more time…


  • Dry, light, slightly bitter initially then as it ‘sat’ longer, very karwa bitter, a hint of leather which then mellowed into a toffee sweetness
  • Bitterness, a touch of anise, quite ‘oaky’, retained a ‘kick’ even by the 3rd sip, a medicinal chewy quality, mild spice


  • Lots of contradictions in reactions here!
  • A few thought it quite limited
  • Some categorised it as medium with a bitter-sweet quality
  • Strong though rather “nondescript” finish
  • “It is like aacccchhh at the back of your throat”


  • Some thought it opened up better with water, softening the oak without detracting from the tropical fruit
  • Others preferred it neat

Overall comments

  • Had a pronounced sweet nose while the palate had an equally strong bitter taste. It was a contrasting combination – not necessarily bad – just a very yin-yang kind of experience
  • “Dispensary needs to mature a bit more”
  • Strong with a ‘raw’ quality, has a kick and a bit rough for the 1st whisky of the evening

It was interesting sampling with two very different groups. Our regular tasting team are old hands at even 61% cask strength whiskies, so the initial ‘punch’ didn’t deter us… however our palates are also spoilt by some pretty superior stuff so Brilliance didn’t quite make muster for all concerned.

Whereas the informal evening was a mix of novices and more experienced whisky sippers… Some found Brilliance a bit harsh needing time to adjust to the alcohol. However these same folks found the much stronger cask strength Paul John cousins Classic and Peated soooooo smooth! So perhaps it was all part of calibrating the palate.

Certainly for the price-point in India (Rs 2,100 / approx $30), it definitely scores way above the typical Indian blends in the same bracket. There is also a definite pride-point in enjoying a single malt from India – especially Goa which is a favourite destination.

Paul John Brilliance Bottle

Paul John Brilliance Bottle (Whisky Lady)

Just to close, here is Paul John description for Brilliance which we read out after our sampling. We didn’t call the bitter quality  ‘cocoa’ however that is one way to interpret it.

There is brilliance everywhere in Goa… colours, fragrances and tastes all exude myriad shades of sensual delights.

Brilliance is a non-chill-filtered non-peated Indian Single Malt Whisky that captures all this, sip after sip. It spoils you with the barley generating all kinds of juicy riches with the light Demerara sugars providing enjoyable companionship. Now sit back to the finish of a gorgeous cocoa, and spices that pamper your taste buds.

It doesn’t gather any more brilliance than this.

Paul John Brilliance 46% label

Paul John Brilliance 46% label (Whisky Lady)

The Paul John Quartet – all NAS:

What others are saying:

You can also find Whisky Lady in India on: