As I’m sure you’re aware, Scotland is not the only country in the world that makes whisky, although it is the most famous (and in my opinion the best). Ireland has as long a history with whisk(e)y as Scotland does (longer even), the USA have been making bourbon for generations and Japan’s fascination with Scotch inevitably led to them making their own – and bloody good at it they are too. Add to this Canada, England, Wales, Germany… There’s Mackmyra in Sweden, Kavalan in Taiwan, Amrut in India and now Puni in Italy… and many, many more.
I’m sure it’s already clear from this blog that my heart lies with scotch, but that’s not to say I don’t experiment – it’s always worth seeing what else is out there. In general, quality is very high. Many of these world whiskies can stand shoulder to shoulder, or even surpass their Scottish counterparts. They bring new, unique characteristics to the table and give us drinkers even more options to explore. After all, whisky is a very organic process and is dependent on the environment around it. For example, whisky aging in a hot country will behave differently than those aging in a cold country – the hotter the environment, the quicker the spirit will mature. This actually poses a bit of a problem for the whisky industry in Scotland – here we are, in the era of no age statements, aged stocks are low but demand is up and countries like India can have very mature whisky ready after just a few years.
As a great lover of Scotch and someone who wants to see it protected for the future, these are troubling times. As a consumer looking for quality whisky and value for money however, I’d be a fool not to look at alternatives. So thats what I’m going to do this time around. Fortunately I have just such a bottle in my collection. A whisky from possibly one of the last places in the world you’d expect…
I’m not sure about you, but when someone says ‘Goa’ to me I don’t think of Pagoda roofs, Pot Stills and Peat Smoke… more… beaches, hippies and awful trance music. However, Goa is exactly where you will find the home of Paul John whisky. The company, John Distilleries Ltd, was founded by Paul P. John, son of a liquor baron in Karnataka in 1992. They produce Brandy, Wine and the whisky brands Original Choice, Grand Duke and single malt Paul John. Temperatures in Goa create an Angel’s Share of 8% a year (compared to Scotland’s 2%) which may explain the lack of age statement here. If you were to mature whisky here for 10 or 12 years you might be lucky to have anything left in the cask at the end of it.
The whisky is made from barley grown in the foothills of the himalayas, water taken from India’s fresh water wells and the peat? Imported from Scotland of course.
Paul John Edited is bottled at 46% and you can sense that little extra hit of alcohol on the nose but a splash of water settles things down and releases notes of Honey, Eucalyptus and Lemon with some light, restrained Peat Smoke. On the palate I get Honey again, Citrus, a little Spice and then a gentle but warming waft of Peat Smoke and lingering Marzipan notes at the finish. Altogether a very pleasant dram.
The Scores: About the scoring system…
Smell: 16 / 20. Some youth yes, but once water is added things relax and we get a very pleasant nose.
Taste: 17.5 / 20. Better. Arrives subtly but develops well. Water turns things a little cloudy, a sure sign that chill filtration has been avoided – this is backed up by the deliciously oily mouthfeel.
Value: 8 / 10. Comes in around £40 – £45. Very satisfying at that price.
Total: 41.5 / 50.