December 2019 - Paul John Visit & 2nd Anniversary!
For December we were extremely lucky to be visited by Craig, who represents Paul John in the UK. Also being the second anniversary of the club this was an extremely proud moment, as it really sums up how far we have come as a club to be attracting distilleries to head out to the sticks and see what we are up to!
Craig brought with him 6 different whiskies from their range, along with a lot of knowledge that we were happy to have bestowed upon us!
Having sampled Brilliance before we knew that the quality was there and it certainly fooled us last time on where it was produced. We were very interested to try the rest of the range.
1. Nirvana (40.0%)
This is the entry level whisky for Paul John, which was introduced later than some of the core lines – and at a more affordable price point. This is designed to be a gentle, everyday whisky with mass market appeal.
This particular one is chill filtered, however Craig was keen to stress that ALL of their whiskies are natural colouring.
Overall it went down really well with the group, as a dram that you would be able to offer to someone who wasn’t particularly a whisky drinker but still might enjoy it.
Craig went on to explain that due to the local ingredients there is a much higher protein content in the barley, which gives a creamy consistency to the end product. He also explained the climate differences in barreling in India – the temperatures fluctuate between 0°C-26°C in the winter, and up to peaks of 43°C in the summer. This accelerates the maturation, and an analogy was given of two teabags – one in hot and one in cold water – the one in hot water would be imparted with the flavour a lot quicker than the cold – and the same applies to the spirit in the cask. This also results in a higher than average ‘Angel’s Share’ – with 8-10% of the barrel contents evaporating per annum.
The spirit in Nirvana is aged to approximately 4.5 years. All of their whisky is reracked after 4-4.5 years anyway, for several reasons, among them – cask fatiguing and creating a flavour that is far too tannin heavy. To make a 20 year old whisky they would need to rerack at least 5 times, but probably more!
One thing that Craig was very clear on was the need for quality – knowing the markets they are exporting to would be wanting something akin to it’s Scottish counterparts. For this reason Paul John, Amrut and Rampur – 3 Indian distilleries all adhere strictly to the SWA regulations for all of their whiskies.
2. Brilliance (46.0%)
We then went onto the Brilliance – which is more of a step up in terms of quality and price point. This is a 5 year old whisky (most of the Paul John whiskies are 6 years old).
This had a much fuller body on the nose – dark fruits, vanilla and cinnamon, with hints of cardamom too. On the palate it is a nuttier, creamier experience than the Nirvana, but it feels to be hitting the same overall notes, just a bit more refined.
The Brilliance is 1st and 2nd fill, bottled and 46% and non-chill filtered.
3. Select Cask Classic (55.2%)
The Select range is an elevation of the quality level, and a more limited run capped at production of 25,000 litres per annum. It is matured in first fill bourbon casks, and bottled at 55.2% - just below cask strength to allow consistency across the runs. It is approximately 6/7 years old.
Craig said – “The 6th one we will taste is my favourite, but this one is what I would say best represents the distiller itself.”
On the nose it is again deeper with woodier notes, nuttier with walnuts coming through. On the palate it is a sweet, fruity flavour that grabs the side of the palate, continues with the nuttier notes and a smattering of Manuka honey. Finishing with a long, warming note that sits with you. This bottle would retail at £55-60.
4. Edited (46.0%)
This is the first peated offering and is a fantastic introduction to peat. It is very lightly peated at 10ppm so not too intimidating for drinkers that prefer the sweeter notes.
The peat used is imported from Scotland – It uses a mixture of Islay Peat from Port Ellen, and Highland Peat from Aberdeenshire.
Bottled at 46% and with first and second fill maturation, this does exactly what it sets out to do, in being approachable but still conveying the flavour of subtle peat.
5. Bold (46.0%)
The second peated offering steps it up slightly, this time only using the peat from Islay, and first fill bourbon barrels at 6 years old. This one has a higher level of peat at 30-35ppm.
On the nose there is a fair presence of peat, but on the palate it is much gentler, with the sweetness of berries, strawberries and cherries coming through.
Craig recommended a couple of drops on an oyster as ‘an absolute treat!’ – something I for one would love to try!
6. Peated Select (55.5%)
Finally the peated select, this is from the higher end range again that the Select Cask Classic belongs to – so limited runs, and bottled at close to cask strength (55.5%). Again peatier still than the previous drams at 35-40ppm.
This was incredibly well received by the club – “Simply sensational”, “Absolutely fantastic”
Still carrying the same characteristic nutty and fruity notes as the previous samples, but with an underlying BBQ smoke and orange on the finish. Very well balanced overall. This one retails at £60-70.
Overall we had an absolutely fantastic evening and were thrilled to come away with not only more knowledge of whisky production, but also having tried 6 whiskies that really did impress from this relative newcomer to the whisky world. Thanks Craig!