Whisky Ladies visit Paul John Distillery

From our first Whisky Ladies Paul John evening, there was interest in making a trip to Goa to visit the distillery. Particularly after Paula’s visit and then mine, we knew it was only a matter of time.

After a few efforts to organize, we settled on August 2019. Flights were booked, an old Portuguese villa arranged for our stay… small group or large… we were determined to finally make it!

And it was COMPLETELY worth the trip. If you enjoy whisky and find yourself in Goa, DO NOT MISS!

Particularly as Paul John Distillery has a lovely visitor centre… That just invites you to  step up and explore…

Pankaj Poorvana greeted us with coffee and a quiz… Which is the world’s most popular whiskey by volume purchased? Apparently it comes from India and is a blend – Officer’s Choice!

With that, we were welcomed into a truly beautiful pavillion, with tiles and furniture lovingly restored.

It was like entering a whisky temple in the middle of a tropical paradise inspired by a Goan Portuguese villa…

Colourfully decorated with paintings by Bianca in the style of Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito Miranda, a popular Goan cartoonist and painter.Before the tour we were brought into a media room where we were shown a video about why Paul John felt ready to make single malt and more specifically in Goa, bringing the “soul of India” to world. The film shared how Paul John has won hundreds of awards with their core line of:

And then our tour began… stay tuned for details on our experience!

Paul John Visitor Centre, John Distilleries
Plot #M21A, Cuncolim Industrial Estate, Salcete, Goa – 403703. (Location available on Google Maps)

Days: Monday- Saturday (Sundays and Public Holidays closed)
Timings: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Visitor Center Contact: +91-74477 88979
Website: https://pauljohnwhisky.com Email: visitorcentre@jdl.in

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Drammers Club is in Mumbai!!!

Another malty memory from 2019 was my first Drammers Club tasting in April… which was a practical cornucopia of whiskies!

For those not familiar, the Drammers Club started in New York and has been opening chapters around the world. For Mumbai, co-president Charlie Prince teamed up with Rohan Mirchandani.

In the session I joined, Charlie shared the intent to anchor Mumbai sessions with an Indian whisky and American  plus other interesting bottles picked up around the world.

The focus for India was Paul John with Yash Bhamre, Brand Ambassador:

  • Brilliance & Edited– I’ll admit, seeing 10 odd whiskies, skipped this pair to focus on sampling those not yet tasted
  • Nirvana 40% – An opportunity to try even before its official launch! It was friendly, approachable, fruity, caramel, easy going
  • Select Cask Peated from Yash’s personal collection, while it didn’t have the pronounced ‘bacon‘ of some editions, it was still a great example of their cask strength peated avatar
  • SMWS 134.3 “Hello Flavour” 56.9% ex bourbon cask, 189 bottles, released 2017… had tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, intense flavours and a delightful finish

And for the American side of the equation?
  • Barterhouse 20 year 45.1% – Easy going creamy and one I’d love to try again in more optimal tasting circumstances
  • Old Commonwealth Postage Stamps of Ireland – A very unique dram that deserves specific attention. I hurriedly jotted down a few tasting notes – Tight black currents and dark berries, black vanilla pods, rich creamy caramel coffee on the nose… Smooth flavorful tea leaf on the palate, a bit queer with the finish initially but harkened back to the nose
  • Heaven Hill Marsala Hogshead Finish (2001/2017) Cask 17074, 46.5% Bottle 13 or 199 bottles – I wasn’t sure about this one, it started off as very musty, nail polish, definitely different funky. However it tasted much better – smooth and sweet, wet fall leaves, berries with spice, finishing with tannin merlot

To round things out, we also explored from Japan:

  • Ichiro’s Double Distillery 46% – Not bad with lots of cantaloupe, honey dew melon, musk melon
  • Ichiro’s Single Grain – I skipped this one – too much of a good thing is, well… too much!

Now I will admit both my pics and tasting notes are rubbish. A crowded noisy bar – no matter how fabulous it is for sociable occasions – just isn’t my way of savouring a single malt. So you will have to forgive my scant impressions. It also cemented my preference for humble low key tasting evenings with a small group of friends over a trio or at most quartet of whiskies not over 10!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m delighted Mumbai has a Drammers Club chapter and wish the team all the best. Charlie and the gang are definitely bringing greater variety of whiskies to a larger audience – and that surely is a good thing!

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Whisky Ladies 4th Anniversary!

Wow! How time flies! From a “wouldn’t it be great if…” to four full and flourishing years of sharing, pairing, discussing, debating, friendship and tasting with the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai!

Originally scheduled for when I was out galavanting around the globe, mother nature had other plans and Mumbai was effectively shut down by rains and floods.

Lucky for me this meant it could be rescheduled to a weekend when I could very happily join!

We decided after our last anniversary that the way to go is have a fun, sociable gathering – where each lady can invite a guest, bring an open bottle, have a grand meal, celebrating together the wonderful world of whiskies with fabulous women! After all – sharing is caring!

The collection was impressive! Here is where we started before most even arrived…

Given some were not able to join our Goan Paul John Distillery tour, I decided to bring ALL of the nearly empty bottles with me – including some never tried by all Whisky Ladies. Here’s what we started with from left to right…

As the sun set and the evening progressed, more and more bottles made their way to our lips… To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even TRY to track the variety and quantity that made its appearance over the course of our gathering… Suffice it to say, it beautifully reflected the diversity of our palates, preferences and penchant to track down something interesting or to simply kick back, relax and sociably enjoy.

For my part, after traveling for weeks from Mumbai – Munich – Winnipeg – Munich & Nuremberg – Mumbai – Goa – Mumbai – Kalote straight from the rice paddy fields of our country home to Mumbai’s urban jungle for our Whisky Ladies celebration, I could not have had a better day or way to celebrate!

I’m so lucky to have been part of creating such a special whisky tasting group in India and am going to miss it terribly in the coming months and years.

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Paul John 7 year Oloroso (2009) 57.4%

I’ve been ever so patiently waiting to sample this whisky… wanting just the right opportunity to share it with one of my Mumbai based whisky tasting groups.

Finally… nearly 2 years after I acquired this lovely bottle, it graced an evening of Sherry explorations…

What did we find?

Paul John 7 year (2009) Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish 57.4%

  • Nose – Starts quite nutty – specifically walnut, some balsa wood, toast then starts to shift into sweet dry fruits and spices with an inviting warm cinnamon, mince pie, dates, fresh figs, orange citrus, a delicious drizzle of honey or perhaps maple syrup?
  • Palate – Full force and fabulous! There was a lovely spice, cherries, rich and full bodied while remaining nicely rounded. Some black pepper and cinnamon bark, complex and dry.
  • Finish – Long, strong, sweet and sumptuous, even a little hint of licorice at the tail
  • Water – Wow! Really opened it up… Much fruitier, dried apricot, still keeps the orange, rum raisins, even sweeter yet without losing the lovely “Ooomph!” and character…The nose then took on some vanilla, cream, think of a yummy egg nog with a generous dash of nutmeg

What a whisky! Even before  the 1st sip, we already heard comments like “Beautiful!” and “Remarkable!”

No question this was cask strength. And equally no doubt this was one exceptional whisky. Full flavoured and quite fabulous, it really came into its optimal character with a splash of water.

To put it in desi terms – we were “maha” impressed! Even more so when the reveal was Indian, provoking much national pride. Bravo Paul John!

And what the folks at Paul John have to say?

A limited edition of the Indian single malt from the sunny Goan coasts, Oloroso presents an aromatic tapestry of complex yet gorgeously weighted fragrances, from toasted honeycomb to figs and a touch of dry raisin. Matured for 3 years in American bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for 4 years, its creamy flavours offer a delectable blend of barley with grape. The intense sherry richness towards the end, gives this rare whisky its name. The finish is long and luxuriously spiced, with a cocoa tinged vanilla. It is a wholesome Goan experience, packed into every sip.

  • Nose – Complex and gorgeously weighted, Toasted honeycomb, dry resin, dates, figs and apricot, its almost an aromatic tapestry.
  • Palate – Magnificent mix of barley and grape, sweet and creamy, intense richness of sherry in the end.
  • Finish – Long and luxurious, with pulsing vanilla-cocoa mix and a build-up of spices.
  • Colour – Dark Amber
  • Pairing – This extremely complex whisky needs food that can complement it well. Tender, juicy steaks and blue cheese can help you unravel every nuance of this magnificent malt from Goa.

Paul John Whiskies:

Here are the whiskies explored in our Sherry Unusual evening:

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Paul John’s Zodiac Series – Kanya 50%

When I was in Goa at the Paul John distillery early 2017, Michael shared he had plans for a Zodiac series… each whisky named after a sign of the Zodiac, all limited release, likely to be from older stock, each unique.

So when I wandered over to the Paul John booth at Whisky Live Singapore 2017 to say hello to the guys, the 1st Zodiac release – Kanya – was the whisky whipped out with pride… and who could resist an opportunity to try?

It was a sneak peak into a whisky that became officially available early 2018.

Paul John Kanya 7 year 50%

  • Nose – Soft tropical fruits, musty, luscious, fruit drops, citrus sweet and spice, caramel
  • Palate – A real bite, old wood, dry, such character
  • Finish – Long and strong

Overall it was chock full of personality. With a sense of being caught just a moment before being in the wood too long… Marvellous. One I would have loved to settle down with properly.

Other Paul John experiences:

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Raising a toast to India – with whisky!

Today is India’s Independence Day… This remarkable sometimes maddening country I’m fortunate to call home.

And what better way to celebrate its birth than raising a virtual ‘toast’ with a dram from India’s single malt distillery – Paul John.

Here’s to you India!

Wall of whiskies!

Paul John whiskies :

Paul John Experiences:

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Ladies Choice – Paul John Single Cask #1844 60.5%

Next up in our Ladies Choice evening was India’s Paul John Single Cask #1844, bottled at full cask strength of 60.5%.

Fellow Canadian Paula McGlynn returns as our guest whisky reviewer…

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

Guest Post by Paula McGlynn

Based in Mumbai, Paula is an actress – including a Marathi film –  film-maker with her partner (Gulbadan Talkies), producer of the Bharatiya Digital Party‘s irreverent web series “Casting Couch” and script writer.

She’s the kind of lass that will track down a new whisky experiment  from Canada or the US, take an hour off from shooting in Goa to zip over to Paul John to collect a coveted bottle of Peated or pop into WhiskyLive when in South Africa… just because… whisky!

Here is what Paula has to say about the Paul John Single Cask #1844 60.1%…

The whisky ladies and I have come to associate Paul John whiskies with a distinct character, from the Peated Select Cask (my favourite), to the Bold and Edited expressions available in India. Paul John has quickly become a great staple whisky to keep stocked in the liquor cabinet if you want to impress your friends with high quality Indian whisky.

However, on the first try of Cask #1844 most of us were bowled over by the distinct caramel sweetness and had trouble finding complexity underneath. Partly because of the high alcohol level (60.5%), we all had a similar struggle finding new notes on the tongue. However, a generous helping of water helped bring out a few more notes.

  • Photo: Paula McGlynn

    Photo: Paula McGlynn

    Nose – Very sweet nose, vanilla, caramel, deep fried banana (a favourite element in Paul John whiskies for me)

  • Palate – Very dry, sweet, caramel
  • Finish – Smooth and then disappears, star anise
  • 5 drops of water – Added spice to the nose, rounder sweetness and a creamy feel added to palate
  • 10 drops of water – Added the slightest hint of coconut, some of us were getting some pear on the palate
  • Later – Star anise on the nose too

Overall: Nondescript sweetness, pleasing and non offensive if water is added to counteract the alcoholic dryness. However I personally found the 1st batch of the Select Peated to be my favourite PJ of all time, and wished #1844 could have lived up to my expectations.

I think this particular cask contained the pure sweetness that is a favourite component of Paul John malt blends. Although not very complex, the flavour notes presented are unique to the fruity Goan feel of Paul John whisky and it was interesting to have them in a cask strength dram.

This particular cask is available through a Danish distributor – Juul’s – who have this to say about the expression:

  • Color: Flower honey.
  • Aroma: Roasted oak, milk chocolate, pepper, apricot yogurt. The fragrance opens with the addition of a few drops of water, and is shades of orange peel, toasted muesli and peppermint.
  • Taste: At full cask strength, with an intense caramel taste explosion. The taste is drier than the aroma suggests with notes of burnt sugar, mint, malt and apricot.

What else did we sample in our “Ladies Choice” evening for the BMC gentlemen?

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Whisky Ladies Choice – Treating the BMC Gentlemen…

Last year, the gentlemen from the Bombay Malt & Cigar club took it upon themselves to treat the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai to an evening of Irish whiskies and cigars.

This year, it was our turn to return the favour.

We debated a range of different approaches and finally decided on a theme of “Ladies Choice.” And what pray tell did that mean to us?

We wanted to share with the gentlemen some of the most memorable whiskies we sampled together as a tasting group. They may not be the world’s best whiskies but they would be our “Choice” – ones that stood out in some kind of way.

We went about it in a democratic manner and voted, tallied up the responses to create a “short-list”, then began the efforts to source these whiskies.

Our approach was a bit flexible, in some cases we knew it would be impossible to source the EXACT same whisky. What worked was finding something from the same distillery or similar category.

The whiskies were literally sourced from around the world involving travel, friends of friends and even last minute acquisitions…

What made it into our final “Ladies Choice” list?

JapanAkashi Red Blended Whisky 40%

  • In truth we had several Japanese whiskies in mind however the Akashi was accessible and a refreshing departure from the expensive exclusive impossible to find Japanese single malts, so figured why not!
  • It also made for a perfect ‘appetizer’ whisky to get the evening going…

Sweden – Mackmyra Vinterdröm 46.1%

  • The most enjoyable peaty Mackmyra Svensk Rok 46.1% captured our attention with its clean, minimalist yet smoky qualities.
  • So when our Swedish whisky lady went on the hunt over Christmas for something distinctly different from the distillery, this limited edition “Caribbean love affair” avatar was her pick!

IndiaPaul John Single Cask #1844 60.5%

  • The Paul John Select Cask Peated Batch 1 “OMG bacon!” made many Whisky Ladies swoon for more during our Paul John evening… we definitely wanted to include a Goan single malt, preferably a Select Cask or Single Cask…
  • Thankfully Michael from Paul John distilleries was able to oblige our interest – literally hand delivering this single cask a mere two days before our evening!

France – Kornog Taouarc’h Pempved 14 BC 46%

  • Kornog’s whisky from Bretagne will forever be known in our group for the comment “How did you go from being a perfect gentlemen to getting my bra off like that?” (WL on Kornog Taourac’h Trived 10 BC 46%)
  • Alas the Trived 10 BC was no longer available so we took a gamble on the newer Pempved 14 BC

TaiwanKavalan Solist Sherry Cask S090102020 57.1%

  • There was no doubt a Kavalan was going to make the cut…
  • By a very wide margin, the Solist Sherry Cask topped the charts with the most votes from all our Whisky Ladies tasting experiences. So… it simply HAD to be our ‘showstopper’ of the evening!

Somehow not one Scottish whisky made it into the list. Not a single one. It wasn’t deliberate. It was simply how the votes panned out.

But that says something about how the whisky world is going…

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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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East to West – Hakushu, PJ Bold, Puni Alba + Clynelish

I love the forethought and creativity that goes into some of our whisky tasting sessions…

Our January 2017 host’s theme was a journey from East to West… following a geographic progression from Japan to India to Italy and finally Scotland.

hakushu-paul-john-puni-clynelish

It was a fabulously curated collection that shifted in styles and threw in surprises too! Each was sampled completely blind before the reveal.

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