Whisky Connosr
Buy Whisky Online

Paul John Brilliance

Average score from 4 reviews and 4 ratings 87

Paul John Brilliance

Product details

  • Brand: Paul John
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%

Shop for this

What next?

  • Add to cabinet
  • Add to wish list
Paul John Brilliance

Tonights tasting is taking me on a trip around the world to India, I have the pleasure of trying 3 offerings from Paul John. Tonight is no1 tasting and is the Brilliance. Paul John Single Malts are the master creations of John Distilleries Ltd (JDL). Established in 1992, the company is driven by the vision of its Chairman, Mr Paul P. John. His passion for creating liquor brands of international repute led him to persevere, innovate and break the mould. JDL has a diverse portfolio, including its flagship brand Original Choice Whisky, which sells over 10 million cases a year. The company also has many a reputed brand of Brandy (Mônt Castlé, Roulette), Whisky (Original Choice, Black Pelican) and Wine (Big Banyan, Goana’s). Each brand has won much appreciation. The endeavour to provide the best quality is evident in every product. Today, JDL has joined the ranks of India’s leading spirits companies. image Tonights offering is bottled at the popular strength of 46% abv.. And is matured in ex bourbon casks.. Nose.. The first impression is of sweetness, toffee and caramel with lots of natural vanilla type tannings, apple pie with cinnamon and burnt sugar, a delicate coffee note arrives from nowhere, there is also a subtle floral note way way in the background. Palate.. The sweetness carries on with lots of toffee like notes, vanilla and burnt caramel, a little citrus note along with dark chocolate and honeycomb. A little spicy tingle pops up in the form of cinnamon and ginger along with a little earthy note possibly manuka honey .. Finish.. A lovely long spicy finish with a pleasant drying texture.. Thoughts.. We always think single malt whisky has to come from Scotland to be any good, well this is another malt to help dismiss those beliefs. I have not had the pleasure of many Indian single malts but the ones I have had have all been exceptional, this one is no exception.. A very easy to drink malt with some lovely complex flavours. As with any whisky made in hotter climates there is a higher evaporation, those angels are so greedy.. Don’t be shy, get yourself out there and try a dram or two of this for yourself.. ocdwhisky.wordpress.com

Brilliant by name... not quite so brilliant by nature. Tastes a little manufactured to me.


Paul John are the newest players to come out of India with some solid single malt offerings (after Amrut of course!). They've been in the industry longer than that, though. Since 1992 they have been producing their special style molasses 'whisky'.

What I didn't know was that they are the sixth largest producer of whisky in the world (WHAT?) producing over a million cases a month. However, their single malt foray is relatively recent (not more than eight years old).

This was my first Paul John and I can understand what all the commotion is about. Jim Murray thinks very highly of them and I respect that he has made it a point to champion the lone distilleries fighting to carve a niche for them.

Their Master Distiller Michael John (no relation to Paul) started at the distillery in 1995 and is responsible for the distillery's single malt range. They have also moved from a more traditional Scottish production process to one that is more tailored to their raw ingredients.

Their biggest difference to Scotch is that they use Indian barley in production, Himalayan 6-row grain rather than the more usual 2-row European grain. This gives a lower alcoholic yield than is often found with Scottish production, but gives a more complex wash and thus more potential for flavor in the spirit.

Like Amrut they too have issues of enormous Angels Share (12%-13%) and so their whiskies are quite young.

Paul John Brilliance is part of their standard range and is made solely from unpeated barley and aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 46%

Nose: Quite delicate. Vanilla. Cucumber. The bourbon influence is quite obvious. Coconut. Mild coffee beans. Nuts. Understated herbs. Milk chocolate. Barley. Oak. Sandalwood. Grist. Honey. Quite pleasant. Reminded me of a typical Speyside whisky.

Palate: Coffee. Chocolate. Star anise. Grist. Ginger. Vanilla. Barley. Natural sugars. Oak. Banana. Tastes like a typical Speysider, too, if you ask me. Quite nice.

Finish: Long. Coffee. Vanilla. Oak. Spices.

I've heard a lot of good things about this distillery and can't wait to tuck in to the other expressions.


The Brilliance from Paul John was created using unpeated malt and maturation in bourbon barrels. It was bottled at a drinking strength without chill filtration.

The nose is very grainy. Think cornflakes, but drenched in a mildly sour cream. Something of wet stones reveals itself. But I can hardly make any association with fruit. Well, maybe some lime. Oh, and a bit of apples after a few minutes.

It is a lot more fruity on the palate. The malty heart is surrounded by apples again, but also some mango and even some star fruit. The spices rear their heads. Think cinnamon and nutmeg. Quite creamy. The sour cream is replaced with a sweet one. Caramel and honey kick in.

In the medium long finish, the spices offer a little extra bite.

The palate exceeds the rather weak nose and in the finish this proves to be a nice malt too, but nothing more than that. Friendly priced with a tag of less than 40 EUR.


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.

@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.

@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.

Popular Paul John whiskies