Back in October of last year, I was honoured to attend a launch party for Paul John Single Cask Whisky from India. With positive reviews abound, the company set about continuing their plans to introduce the international markets to new whisky; the evidence being in the newest additions to their range: two single malts, entitled Brilliance and Edited. These two whiskies are set to be permanent bottlings for the Paul John Distillery.
Both are distilled in Goa using copper-pot stills, are aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, and are bottled at 46% ABV. The primary difference between the two is that Brilliance is made from unpeated malted barley, whereas Edited is made from a combination of unpeated and peated malted barley. All of the barley is also from India and this, combined with the extreme climate (temperatures can reach over 40°C), makes these whiskies distinctive in more ways than one. Here’s what I thought.
Paul John Brilliance (46% ABV)
Nose: Soft and sweet, but there’s also something unusually refreshing and “bright” about this, reminding me strongly of a Mint Julep made with fresh mint and a really good Bourbon. There’s smooth vanilla and light wood, plus a hint of cocoa paste, a little coconut, papaya and pineapple, like you’d find in muesli (these notes are similar to some of those in the Single Cask).
Taste: Quite powerful from the outset, with the same tropical flavours (dried pineapple, in particular) that I found on the nose coming through both on the palate and in the finish. In the middle, there are also some slightly bitter (but not in a bad way), raw wood notes that are accompanied by a strong warmth.
Finish: Light tannins, a little bit of dried banana chips and vanilla.
Paul John Edited (46% ABV)
Nose: Very light smoke and faint hints of peat, along with wood varnish and liquorice allsorts. Despite the lightness of the smoke, this is a good, strong nose. After a little warming, I also got some notes of sweet spice and sherry.
Taste: In contrast to Brilliance, this had more of a gradual, building warmth and spicy texture. It also seems sweeter and has more weight to it, with darker wood notes, liquorice and cinnamon.
Finish: Roasted banana and cream, a tiny touch of sweet spice, including a hint of nutmeg, and vanilla.
Both of these whiskies have unique, but different profiles. I loved being able to taste them without any expectations, because they seem both familiar – they have many of the quality wood notes that you’d recognise from Scotch whisky – and yet, at the same time, refreshingly different. I’m a big fan, in particular, of the bright, tropical notes of Brilliance, which are perfectly balanced by the warmth behind them. Then again, the light peat and liquorice notes within Edited also drew me in. The lovely finishes of both makes it exceptionally difficult for me to choose a favourite between the two, although I think Brilliance has it, very slightly. Unless you only like heavy, smoky whiskies, I’d definitely recommend trying these if you get the chance.
– Mrs. B.