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 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%

Nose

  • 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…

Taste

  • 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

Finish

  • 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”

Water

  • 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:

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