King’s beer, Feni, beaches, shacks, psychedelic trance parties…all popular nouns, most if not all of the one billion strong would associate with Goa. But hidden away like a needle in a hay stack is a little known secret, the presence of an underdog whose venture into the Single Malt’s world would not exceed beyond the number of fingers on my hand. It’s been over four years- Oct 2012, since their Single Malts were introduced to the UK, and little did they stay there! Numerous awards such as “Liquid Gold” along with mid-ninety something scores (Jim Murray’s) against its various editions have put some mammoth scotches holding near God like status awestruck and bewildered.
Time to clear off those pints of Kings and set aside those Feni bottles to make way for Goa’s very own home production, a produce of John Distilleries – Paul John’s range of Single Malts. This malt wonder is little known to the general public which can only be further compounded by its scarce availability locally– being exclusive to only Goa and Bangalore at first! Over the past few months, distribution has expanded into Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune, making it now available in over 22 destinations with the inclusion of several Duty Free Retail outlets.
Previously, I did have the chance to review the Brilliance edition; and today I am fortunate to take a jab at the Edited, a peated version of the former. The distillers here have moved away from importing peated barley and have rather chosen to bring in the peat itself lending them the freedom to exercise how much of the malt would they expose to the heated peat. The peat bogs from Aberdeen and Islay form the source; with the former giving a low phenolic, more marine, earthy character while the latter lending a phenol-centric, medicinal personality. In the case of the Edited, peat from both sources are used and around 20% of the malted barley is peated thereby not overdoing its influence and limiting it to around 25 ppm.
The mash is left to ferment in stainless steel wash containers, a move made post experience – the harsh, near-equator like climate wasn’t dear to the wooden washes, eroding frequently, forcing them to be replaced.
The wash once distilled is poured at 63.5% ABV and aged for around 5 years in ex-bourbon barrels housed in warehouses placed strategically either at ground level where it is allowed to interact with external influences like humidity, warmth and the sea or underground letting earth and the comparatively lower temperatures provide stimuli.
Owing to the higher moisture and temperatures of the tropics, the maturation within these casks are accelerated two to three times. So in effect you have a 5 YO whisky that would exhibit characteristics similar to a 15 YO scotch (*read similar*)! However, this hastened maturation comes at a price– the angels here command a steep 10+% compared to the 2-3% from colder regions like that of Scotland.
Between the various editions, the bottles look very much the same, except for nuances in the colours used on the exteriors – labels and packaging.
Eye: Amber to deep gold
Nose: Earthy-moist wood, peat and seaweed form much of the introduction; with butterscotch, honey and the sweetness of stewed apples and pear evident at the foreground. The alcohol does give a slight burn, but on resting you begin to experience traces of cocoa, cinnamon, and white pepper.
Taste: You are greeted with a sense of warmth; the spirit itself is mildly viscous and sweet- some fruits, cherries, and grapes. The moist, damp earthy characteristics is carried through from the nose but in addition you encounter a combination of Indian spices, some hay and dry grass.
Adding a few drops of water, broadened the woody profile, adding subtle sweet and floral notes, some fruit ice cream while also diminishing the hit from the alcohol. The palate was now lighter with candies and a wide array of soft fruits.
Finish: Sweet, floral and dry with a medium finish; a rather good one at that.
The Paul John Edited is certainly interesting and a good example of what slumber (read as ‘aging’), lumber and weather can do. I for one am not truly inspired by maturation solely limited to ‘Ex bourbon barrels’ but the Edited makes me feel otherwise. The presence of spice, the moisture laden earth and some maritime tones does remind you of Goa and much of its play in crafting the soul of the spirit.
On the plus, it’s not overly peaty, tends to be rich but not too sweet and exhibits a sort of maturity that would naturally attract a great number of customers. However on the flip, the nose does burn, unlike others I’ve tried and its woody, sea-weed like profile could be a turn off to a few, but again very relative.
The Edited…a great dram sipped neat; one that can also be sampled with a few drops of water!