Whisky Ladies of Mumbai turn “One”

One year ago, a chance conversation about whisky lead to a fabulous evening… Each month since, a remarkable group of women have met in Mumbai to explore whiskies combined with witty conversations.

Whisky Ladies 1st Anniversary

Together we’ve had 12 fabulous sessions:

  1. Whisky Ladies Welcome Compass Box Asyla, Kilchoman Coull Point, Nikka ‘Yochi’ 10 yr, Caol Ila 12 yr, Ledaig 1997
  2. With Karen Walker – Caorunn ginBalblair 03Old Pulteney 12 yrSpeyburn 10 yrAnCnoc 12 + 22 yr
  3. Cask Strength Diwali – Glenfarclas 105, Chichibu 2009, A’bunadh #35
  4. World Tour – Forty Creek Confederation OakNikka BlendedOban 14 yr, Sheringham William’s White Double Distilled Grain
  5. Go Goan! Paul John Brilliance, Edited, Bold, Classic & Peated
  6. Go American! JD, Hudson Single Malt, Jim Bean, Knobs Creek 9 yr (with Shatbhi Basu)
  7. Sweetly smokey – Dalmore 15 yrMackmyra Svensk RökSmokehead Rock
  8. Chocolate with Hibiki Harmony, Lagavulin 16 yr, A’bunadh #46
  9. Far East – Kavalan Concertmaster SolistNikka Coffey GrainChinese baijiu
  10. “I like the label” – Compass Box Great King Street – Artist’s BlendStarwardSmoky Goat
  11. European Tour – Teerenpeli (Finland)Danica (Denmark)Kornog (France)Slyrs (Germany)
  12. 5 Region Tour – Glenkinchie 12 yrJura Turas-MaraClynelish 14 yrCardhu 12 yrArdbeg 10 yr

Whisky Ladies in Mumbai

And the whiskies for our 1st anniversary celebration? Count them… yup that’s 13 whiskies from left to right…

  1. Amrut Single Malt
  2. Amrut Fusion
  3. Paul John Edited 46%
  4. Paul John Peated 55.5%
  5. Cragganmore 12 year 40%
  6. Smoky Goat 40%
  7. Highland Park 1998 40%
  8. Aberfeldy 12 year 40%
  9. Monkey Shoulder 40%
  10. Dalmore 15 year 40%
  11. Glen Grant 10 year 40%
  12. Caol Ila 12 year 43%
  13. Ardbeg 10 year 46%

Along with a bottle, our potluck approach to nibbles resulted in a fabulous spread.

Whisky Ladies Spread

Here’s to wonderful women that make up this Mumbai malty tribe! May we continue to enjoy many more sessions together!

In celebration, we now have a special Whisky Ladies Corner sharing:

  • Blog posts from our Whisky Ladies of Mumbai (other than mine!)
  • Recognition of evenings we’ve enjoyed courtesy of a few kind benefactors
  • Other nights with whiskies we sourced with different themes
  • Related women centric whisky posts

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Winnipeg Cabinet’s Paul John Peated experience

Yes another Paul John post, however it is such a treat to be able to share this tropical delight from Goa, India in my country of birth – Canada!

We’ve enjoyed more than one Paul John‘s Select Cask Peated:

  • 1st bottle graced two tasting occasions – an evening with our original tasting group with partners and then revisited with a mad bunch of friends
  • 2nd bottle made its appearance with the Whisky Ladies Goan send-off in December 2015. It was completely memorable and created a fan following amongst the Whisky Ladies…. so much so that one of our intrepid lasses made the trek to the distillery doors to help source further bottles…
  • 3rd bottle wound its way from Goa to Mumbai to London to Toronto and finally Winnipeg for a special peaty evening with the lads from The Cabinet

Paul John Select Cask Peated

Here’s a few impressions from the Canadian evening with a bottle from the 2016 batch:

  • Nose – Fruit, flowers and tropics, raisins, some toffee coffee, then back to fruit… dark cherries, berries with curl of smoke
  • Palate – Rum… did we mention rum? Exceedingly smooth, smoky yet sweet
  • Finish – Smoke tar with a sweet chaser…

Now my companions must have wondered a bit as I kept (annoyingly) going on about “where’s the delicious bacon??” Between the 1st batch and this batch, the gorgeous yummy glazed ham, back-bacon drizzled in maple syrup was… well… notably absent. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a rather good dram but oh… that meaty peaty sweetness I was greedily looking forward to was simply… different.

I returned to India to confer with my fellow Whisky Ladies – sure enough they all had the same reaction. Still a mighty fine whisky, still very enjoyable however…. where is the bacon???”

My friends at the Cabinet had no such pre-conceived notions. And it was therefore all the more enjoyable to experience afresh through their reactions what Paul John has to offer to the world of whisky!

Here’s what they had to say

And finally the genesis of the peat theme this evening: Carissa had brought a bottle of Paul John peated single malt whisky from Goa, India. Yes, Goa. It’s hard to imagine a locale less associated with single malt in most people’s minds. Right up there with Fiji or Egypt. But indeed, since 2012 there has been a distillery in Goa and what a distillery.
PaulJohnPeatedTo those of you for whom Indian whisky means Amrut and for whom Amrut is a byword for crap, Paul John is a revelation. Not only is it not crap, but it is in fact very good. Not only is the quality a surprise, but the entire whisky is a surprise.
To begin with, although peated malt was apparently used, the peat character is completely submerged under an intense sweet dark fruit flavour overlay, like raisins, like molasses, like… rum. This whisky tastes like a lovely aged rum. Perhaps an 18 year old Flor de Cana.
And the colour. For a whisky whose oldest components cannot be more than four years it has the deep mahogany colour of a 21 year old sherry cask finish. Apparently the tropical heat greatly accelerates aspects of the aging process.
And then finally the alcohol. This is a 55.5% fire bomb, yet none of us added water. The rummy sweetness smooths it and softens it. 
Very interesting. Thank you Carissa! It’s really an “apples and oranges” scenario when it comes to comparisons with traditional scotch whiskies. In fact last night the Rosebank and Paul John beautifully illustrated opposite ends of a series of spectrums: old and new, light and dark, astringent and sweet, austere and complex. As the rhinos dwindle away other species begin to proliferate…

Thank you Cabinet gents for a most memorable evening in Winnipeg! And thank you once again Michael of Paul John for the bottle that made its way from my adopted home to the city of my birth.

Interested in what else we sampled? Read on…

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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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Paul John Peated Select Cask NAS 55.5%

We recently sampled a quartet of Paul John  whiskies from Goa, India. Before cracking open the 4th whisky, we tried:

The Paul John Peated Select Cask uses peat imported from Scotland, is non-chill filtered and aged in American white-oak ex-bourbon barrels.

Paul John Select Cask Peated

Paul John Select Cask Peated (Whisky Lady)

The notes are from two sampling sessions. The 1st points are from when the bottle was initially opened, the balance from the 2nd tasting session.

Paul John Peated Select Cask 55.5%

Nose

  • Peaty, leather, while strong peat on first whiff morphs into smoked bacon, burnt mushrooms, medicinal hospital smell, burnt charcoal and finally after more time a sweetness like a betel leaf or mint
  • Hickory chips, peaty, smokey BBQ, roasted, toasted toffee, nutty whiff, lightly tropical. After letting it rest, even more fruit.

Taste

  • BACON as in serious we aren’t messing around BACON, very good, sweet at first like brown sugar then ashy
  • Heats the tongue then spreads across the palate, lots of crisp bacon, smells a lot peatier than it tastes, citrus of grapefruit, orange then slight bitterness of a chocolately orange
  • Veeerrrry smooth with the peat becoming subtler with each sip, softly curling around like a comforting blanket

Finish

  • Smoky finish
  • Heavy, dense, a little peppery hot
  • A bit harsh like a warm tingle of tiger balm
  • “It’s a slow burn to the finish”

Water

  • Really opens up with a light splash!
  • However just a good with nothing added at all…

Overall comments 

  • “An uncommon sweet peaty dram”
  • “Interesting with some great elements but not quite as complex as I prefer”
  • “It reminds me of a Texas BBQ!”
  • “Remarkably smooth… the more you sip, the more you enjoy!”
Paul John Peated close-up

Paul John Peated close-up (Whisky Lady)

While there is peat, it is a light not heavy hand – teasing rather than clobbering you over the head. It is definitely the kind of whisky the grows on you more and more.

Interestingly some who initially voted Paul John Classic as their favourite over the course of the evening found themselves drawn back to the Peated. It even made a convert out of one who tends to prefers non-peated whiskies.

Here is what Paul John has to say about Peated:

Experience the many notes and shades of Goa here…

The Paul John Select Cask Peated gently astonishes the seriously indulgent. The swirl lightly whisks up narratives from the undulating landscapes of the windswept oceanfronts of Goa.

The smoke slowly blows forward and acts as a cushion to the many layers of crisp sugars, muscovado and demerrara. A hint of spice radiates from the hickory and Dominican-style cocoa.

That’s the Goa experience in a tipple.

There is clearly a distinctive quality to all four Paul John whiskies. Each has a kind of tropical ‘sunshine’ with a range of sweet to bitter to spicy and, for Edited and Peated, smokey elements.

It is refreshing they are from India and while all are quite enjoyable single malts, the Select Cask Classic and Peated are the ones appreciated the most.

A welcome newer voice in the world of whiskies and growing pride from India.

Paul John Quartet - compliments of Michael John

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

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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?

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