Distillery: John Distilleries
Age: No age statement
Most Scotch drinkers probably wouldn’t know it, but India-based John Distilleries produces one of the world’s best selling whiskies. Established in 1996 by Paul P. John, the company is home to Original Choice whisky, which still accounts for around 90% of its sales. The good news is that this commercial success allowed John to enter the premium end of the market with the launch of Paul John malt whisky in 2008. And they didn’t take half measures. Using traditional production methods and installing a pair of copper pot stills, the distillery quickly earned international acclaim. Whereas most Indian distillers import their raw materials, Paul John has chosen to use locally grown 6-row barley. Although yields are lower, the higher fibre content results in an oilier wash and a more robust whisky. For Paul John Bold, peat was imported from Islay and used to smoke the barley to a level of 25 ppm (similar to a Talisker). Owing to the hotter climate in Goa, the maturation comes with an angel’s share of around 8-10%. The upside is that the spirit matures more quickly, imparting a vibrant array of flavours on a whisky that retains its youthful temperament. Sounds perfect for an expression that carries the moniker Bold.
Colour: Light copper
Nose: Sweet, with a slightly herbal, medicinal tang. The scent of hay combines with aromas of cornbread and fragrant vanilla. There’s quite a fruity profile too, as honey coated strawberries provide some much-needed freshness.
Palate: Light-bodied, offering flavours of white pepper and fresh oak. Notes of toasted barley and nutmeg further spice up the palate. The result is a dram that’s more fiery than smoky, with the peat ever present but never demanding centre stage.
Finish: Spicy, quite warming and reasonably long. There’s an initial rush of charred oak that’s replaced by a dry aftertaste of peat and peppercorn.
Verdict: Well, this sure is an aptly named whisky. Any attempt at subtlety or sophistication was clearly thrown out the window. Paul John Bold has a lot going for it. From the lovely Islay peat to the sensuous, seasoned flavours. It’s a heady mix, like walking around a Goa spice market in the mid-day heat. My only gripe is that the spice rather overpowers the peat, resulting in a dram that’s a bit too sharp for my liking. Then again, that might just be my European palate talking. The beauty of this Paul John is that it provides a fusion between that classic Islay taste and a flavour profile not found in Scotland. For that reason alone, it’s well worth a try.
Value for money: 🤩🤩🤩