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Paul John Brilliance


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@tjbReview by @tjb

12th Feb 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This review was written after finishing my 2nd bottle. I was lucky enough to host a tasting evening at my Whisky club with them about 6 months ago. I thought they might send a general staff member to go through the motions of a presentation and tasting. Hell no, they pulled out all of the stops and as a consequence I got a real education on the philosophy, history and production delivered personally by their Vice President of International and Overseas operations no less.

John Distilleries are the world’s 7th largest Whisky producer , established in 1992 and their best known brand, Original Choice, sells more than 60 million bottles annually.

While many Whisky drinkers in the UK are becoming increasingly accustomed to world whiskies, not many are familiar with the quality of Indian single malt. Paul John Whisky will be a pleasant surprise to many people who are both new to Whisky as well as those who been enjoying Whisky for years but have only ever drunk Scotch.

2012 saw the launch of Paul John Single Malt cask strength, in 2013 they launched their flagship single malts. All have attracted attention, accolades and awards. The 2 flagship expressions, Edited & Brilliance, have won Gold and Silver at the World Whiskies Master 2013, their Single Cask Expressions (P1 - 161, 163 & 164) have all been given the Liquid Gold Status by the Jim Murray Whisky Bible. The Single Cask P1-164 also won Silver at the International Spirits Challenge 2013 so they are gaining widespread attention as their Single Malts burst on to the world Whisky Stage.

Initially Paul John have allocated 2000 cases of Edited and Brilliance with a view to break into the UK market. Strangely, the UK is a fairly small market for Whisky compared to not only the Asian and American markets but also other European countries such as France and Sweden. As you might guess, the 2000 bottles ran out very quickly.

The company, John Distilleries, is based in Bangalore, but the single malt distillery is located in Goa in southern India. The spirit produced for Paul John single malt is been made using 100% Indian barley and is distilled twice in traditional copper pot stills. The whisky matures very quickly in the casks due to the high temperatures and has an evaporation rate (the angel’s share) of approximately 12% per year. In fact, the peat imported from Islay is the only non-Indian component used in production. Using first-fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels (from distilleries such as Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace, which help to add a lot of colour and sweetness to the Whisky) the casks are then stored at sea level. Age is not a question to ask of Paul John. They will say judge on flavour not age…and they are quite right.

Understanding intricacies of using six-row Barley (from the Himalayan foothills) rather than the traditional two-row used by Scottish distilleries they have made a wonderful Single Malt. This is non chill filtered.

So, enough preamble, what's it like?

The nose gives cereal, honey, sea salt, dark fruit and cherries. There is a hint of cinnamon and a grassy note.

The Palate is rich and full of malty cereals with pleasant sweetness honey, vanilla, sea salt and some sweet darker fruits. There is a gentle spice tingle with a hint oak.

The finish is extremely pleasant and medium long. You are left with a tingle right in the middle of the tongue.

This is a must try bottle. Give it time to breathe and sit back and savour. I wouldn't call it overly complex but Brilliance is Brilliant. It is well rounded, thoughtfully made and simply drinkable. For the money it is a banker.

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Victor commented

@tjb, thank you for a nice detailed review. I hope we see Paul John products in my region soon. I wonder where those 'dark fruit' flavours are coming from without wine influence. Those sorts of flavours are usually from either rye grain or wine influence. Maybe you could get a bit of that from the rye residual from "first fill" bourbon or Tennessee whiskey barrels.

It doesn't surprise me that whiskies "mature" "quickly" in hot climates.

It is always good to hear word of another quality producer in the whisky marketplace.

8 years ago 0

MaltActivist commented

Thanks for a lovely review. As a die hard fan of Amrut whiskies it's nice to see another Indian whisky maker make their mark in the world of single malts.

There has to be something about the weather which makes Indian matured whiskies so unique. I would love to see Ardbeg or Laphroaig send through a few young casks just to see what happens.

Might help in bolstering supply to say the least. Of course bye bye age statements. But that's ok!

8 years ago 0

tjb commented

@victor Thanks for your kind words.You could well be rights out the bourbon cask influence. They won't confirm the exact age but intimate it's 4 to 5 yrs old.

@tabarakRavzi I prefer this to Fusion personally. I know many wouldn't but that's what makes Whisky fun. I would love to see some Islay malts stored in Goa. Ardbeg went to space but that's hardly the same, lol. When Whisky is this good I don't mind the lack of age statements.

Normally my reviews are short and concise and usually a way of me recording my thoughts. Also, lots of reviews (mine included) often repeat on certain generic information. In this case I was lucky to have been given a lot more detail so was happy to share.

8 years ago 0

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