A short while ago, I was lucky enough to find myself on a whisky field trip, sitting in the comfortable, yet luxurious Capital Bar, on the ground floor of The Capital Hotel. Situated just minutes away from Harrods, this bar is fortunate enough to have the UK’s youngest Keeper of the Quaich, Cesar Da Silva, as its Bar Manager, and, as such, was an exciting and yet wonderfully informal environment in which to try the first official tasting of Paul John Single Cask.
Oliver from The Whisky Exchange introduced us to this exciting whisky from India. Since 1992, John Distilleries, a company founded by Mr Paul P. John, has produced Original Choice, a blended whisky made in India for the country’s economy-level spirits market. This has steadily increased in popularity and it is now the fourth biggest brand in India.
Around 1998, the company decided that they wanted to create a premium single malt and take their whisky to international markets, and they’re starting with Paul John Single Cask. Made using Indian malted barley and aged in ex-Bourbon casks, only 150 bottles are available and so Oliver obviously had a captive audience as the spirit was poured into our glasses!
On its own
Nose: Light, fruity and vibrant, with notes of banana, dried tropical fruit (like in muesli), in particular pineapple and mango.
Taste: Again, this was full of vibrant woody notes, along with dry, woody spice and a hint of the freshness of eucalyptus. Given that this is cask strength, the alcohol really made itself known, making the whisky seem spicy, in particular at the back of the mouth. This fieriness was followed by warm notes of wood and sweet orange. The finish was dry, with hints of dark chocolate.
With a drop of water…
Nose: Amazing how different this is – with a drop or two of water, the nose becomes very sweet, like the woody caramel of a Bourbon. I also caught a hint of smokiness, but this was mainly light, sweet and fresh.
Taste: With good warmth, this tasted like an intriguing combination of a sweet Bourbon (especially given the nose) and a Speyside Scotch whisky, only with light vanilla and tropical notes throughout (these were a lot less distinguishable in this sweeter serve – I mainly caught hints of dried pineapple).
Upon arrival, we were also treated to a delicious cocktail created by Cesar at the bar…
This has a faint, but still very fresh, nose of orange. To taste, it was silky and superbly balanced, with a delicate, dry note of orange to start, followed by more tropical flavours. The finish reminded me strongly of banana smoothie, making this a delicious, light and fruity cocktail and a wonderful surprise!
I was charmed by the history and romance of this just as much as I was by the whisky itself, which was a tasty combination of the sweet vanillas of Bourbon, the weightier woody notes of a Scotch, and unfamiliar, but wonderfully integrated, faint hints of dried, tropical fruit. I’m looking forward to trying future offerings from Paul John.
Although it was sweeter with water, I actually preferred this at bottling strength, although it would be a drink that I would savour over an hour or so.
Given all of this and its rarity, I was impressed by the fact that it’s only £60 a bottle from The Whisky Exchange.
– Mrs. B.