January 2018: Indian Whisky (Paul John Distilling)

Host: Dr. Stephen Benson

One of the missions of Flight Club is to introduce members to something different. Part of this includes introduction of spirits from around the world. We have tasted spirits from Japan, South America, Iceland, and China to name a few. Over the past several years, Indian whisky has started to gain notoriety and has won numerous awards.  This tasting of Paul John Single Malt whisky is our first venture into the Indian market.

John Distilling was first established in 1992 by Paul John. For approximately 20 years, they produced a variety of spirits including Original Choice, a very popular molasses “whisky” that sells approximately 10 million cases a year. They produce a variety of whisky, brandy, and wine. It is interesting to note that Sazerac (owner of Buffalo Trace and 1792) recently bought an equity stake in John Distilling.

Paul John Single Malt is distilled in the Indian state of Goa, which is an old Portuguese colony on the west coast of India bordering the Arabian Sea. Master distiller Michael D’Souza uses Indian grown Himalayan barley, which is double distilled in traditional copper stills. It is then aged in American white oak barrels which are stored underground in a temperature controlled room.

Because of the climate in Goa, the estimates for the angels’ share are approximately 8-12% over just a few years. The first Paul John Single Malt came out in 2012.  Since that time, the expressions of Paul John have grown, and they have been recognized with numerous awards.

Paul John is currently available worldwide but only available in 10 states (Kansas is not one of them).


Name: Yellow Sapphire Martini

Ingredients: Paul John Brilliance Single Malt, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, star anise, lime, spiced simple syrup.

Recipe: Muddle two star anise. Add 3-4 chunks fresh pineapple and muddle again. Fill shaker with 3/4 ice. Add 2 oz Paul John Brilliance, 1-1.5 oz. pineapple juice, 1/2 oz. syrup (basic simple syrup recipe with four star anise, one cinnamon stick, and the peel of one orange), and juice from two lime wedges. Shake and serve in a chilled glass. Garnish with star anise.

Bottle 1: Paul John Single Malt – Bold

Proof:  46% ABV

Mash Bill: Indian barley smoked using Islay peat (to approx 25ppm)

Price:  $50

Purchase location:www.masterofmalt.com

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Soft peat, toasted barley, dried grass, smoke, citrus, green apple, brown sugar, green olives, briny, capers, rare roast beef

Palate:  Vegetal, peat (but more mild than the nose suggets), beefy, iron, raw honey, oily, oak, coffee, spice, a bit soapy, sherry

Finish: Medium; sherry, waxy, oily, peaty, peppered oak

Why this bottle is featured:  This is a great example of Paul John’s core range of single malts (along with Edited and Brilliance).

Bottle 2: Paul John Single Malt Single Cask #1906

Proof: 50% ABV

Mash Bill: Indian barley aged in ex-bourbon casks

Price: $105

Purchase location: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Corn Pops cereal, barnyard hay, grassy, vanilla custard, shortbread, fruit leather, lime peel, orange blossom

Palate: Sweet biscuits, caramel syrup, grapefruit, nail polish remover, honeydew, barley, sugar, cocoa, a bit numbing

Finish: Brown sugar followed by chocolate, grapefruit, a bit metallic and slightly briny

Why this bottle is featured:  One of 210 bottles. A good example of Paul John’s single cask releases.

Bottle 3: Indian Single Malt Whisky – 6 y.o. Batch 2

Distillery: Paul John – bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Proof: 54.7% ABV

Mash Bill: N/A

Price: $115

Purchase location:masterofmalt.com

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Thick, butterscotch, oak, vanilla, red wine tannins, minerals, peated, allspice, caramel, black pepper, mixed berries

Palate: The proof somewhat masks the palate, raspberry, honey butter, vanilla char

Finish: Orchard fruit with lingering peat, fig newton, brown sugar

Why this bottle is featured: One of 172 bottles. We have been talking recently about independent bottlers, and That Boutique-y Whisky Company is one of the best, frequently putting out unique and tasty whisky. This single cask release is a great example of what they’ve done with Paul John whisky. Has won multiple awards.

Bottle 4Paul John 6 Single Cask Series

Distillery: John Distilling – bottled by Master of Malt

Proof: 58% ABV

Mash Bill: N/A

Price: $170

Purchase location:masterofmalt.com

Tasting Notes:

Nose:  Plums, black cherries, raspberry scone, apple, cinnamon, banana bread, some anise and balsamic mushrooms, pine

Palate: Sweetest palate thus far, similar to Mellow Corn, ginger, smoke, caramel, a lot of fruit, dried apricot, clove, and brown sugar

Finish: Toffee, apples, and chocolate. White pepper. Lingering caramel and butterscotch, vanilla cream and white sugar. Longest finish thus far.

Why this bottle is featured: One of 210 bottles. While many of us purchase bottles from Master of Malt, what you may not know is that they are a large independent bottler of whisky. This is their bottling of Paul John. This particular whisky was distilled October 2009, aged in a first fill bourbon barrel, and then bottled December 27, 2015.

Bottle 5: Paul John Single Malt Peated Select Cask

Proof: 55.5% ABV

Mash Bill: Indian barley with peat from Scotland.

Price: $75

Purchase location:masterofmalt.com

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Peat bomb, smoky, sweet, earthy, walnut, barley, charcoal, rosemary, evergreen, pine, dirty radish, seared steak, mixed berry Kool-Aid

Palate: BBQ smoke, damp earth, tropical fruit, spice, briny, blackberry, caramel, leather, soft peat

Finish: Medium long but delicate. Bitter orange peels, tart marmalade, blackberries, soft peat, leather.

Why this bottle is featured:  This is considered to be a next tier expression from Paul John. Bottled at cask strength.

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