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Scotland is far from being the only country in the world to produce whisky. Ireland has just as long a history, if not longer, and the USA has been making bourbon for generations. Japan’s fascination with Scotch inevitably led to the creation of their own industry and the Canadians make a fine array of drams too. Add the likes of England, Wales, Germany, Sweden, Taiwan, Australia and Italy to this list and you begin to see how truly global the whisky scene has become.
As it has no doubt become clear from my past reviews, Scotch is my first love where whisky is concerned but I always find it worthwhile to seek out alternatives and investigate what the rest of the world has to offer. Many of these world whiskies can stand shoulder to shoulder with the spirit of Scotland and bring new and exciting interpretations of what whisky can be. Whisky, after all, is a natural product, made from the land and it is affected by the conditions in which it is created. In a hot country, for example, whisky matures faster than it does in a cold climate, meaning young spirit can take on the complexities of maturity in a much shorter time frame. This actually poses a bit of a problem for the Scotch industry, who would no doubt love to be able to bottle a 5-year-old spirit that tasted more like a 10.
As a great lover of Scotch and someone who wants to see its reputation protected for the future, these are troubling times. As a consumer looking for quality whisky and value for money, however, I would be a fool not to look at alternatives. So with that in mind, let us turn our attention to a dram which hails from possibly the last place on earth 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 dreadful 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 the Paul John single malt. The high temperatures in Goa create an angel’s share of 8% a year (compared to Scotland’s 2%) so despite the lack of an age statement here, I think it is safe to assume it has spent less than 10 years in cask. The spirit is produced from barley grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, smoked with Scottish peat.
Smell: 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.
Taste: Honey again, Citrus, a little Spice and then a gentle but warming waft of Peat Smoke and lingering Marzipan notes at the finish.
Thoughts: This is a rather decent drop. I sampled it during a tasting and liked it enough to buy a bottle. It isn’t a world away from Scotch but there’s a distinctive character to it that’s unlike anything we produce in Scotland. The smoke is nicely balanced and doesn’t overpower and it carries pleasing weight on the palate. £45 isn’t a lot to pay for it either. There’s no age statement and the whisky will be young, no doubt, but maturation works very differently in Goa. Japanese whisky gets a lot of press, but honestly, I find Indian single malt much more to my tastes and Paul John is one of the leading lights.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.