Thursday, November 01, 2018

Tasting Paul John Indian whiskies at the Cape Grace

Another interesting invitation from Hector McBeth to taste Whisky; this time from Goa in India. We have tasted Japanese and Scotch whiskies with him on previous occasions. Held in the Bascule Lounge at the Cape Grace Hotel; where else? It has the best whisky collection in South Africa. We were to taste five whiskies from Paul John
We met Michael d’Souza, the Paul John master distiller. They introduced their whiskies in South Africa in 2017 and believe that there is a market for them here. They wanted to see what we and several other whisky lovers thought of them
The line up of whiskies. This is the number 1 Whisky brand in India. Three have not yet been bottled: numbers 1, 2 and 4. They wanted to know which were our favourites for this market. They were recently awarded a Trophy at the Michelangelo Awards for No. 5. The 6 row barley used (it is low in protein) is grown in the Himalayas and their water is rainwater, collected during the 4 month monsoon in Goa. It is free of magnesium salts. In their heat, they lose a very high share to the angels. The whisky is stored below ground, where it is cooler, darker and not humid. Their casks are imported from Cordoba in Spain and the whisky is in barrel for 8 and 6 years. Because of the temperature, 8 years is the equivalent of 20 years for Scotch whisky
The first was from a single cask of 8 year old, matured underground. 58%. It has caramel, roasted nuts, vanilla and tropical fruit notes on the nose; soft, then hot on the palate, reminiscent of hot chilli! Lots of perfume and vanilla. With a drop of water, it is softer, more perfumed like Chanel; floral, roses, gardenias, with vanillins from the wood, creamy and some smoke on the end. No. 2 was matured in Oloroso legacy oak, a Montilla cask. Nutty, almost a sherry nose, dark caramel, a very pretty, complex nose with Oloroso notes. Sweet and salty, with nuts, perfume; more complex than No. 1, more layered and at 55%. Fruit on the palate, raisins, sultanas, pineapple and maple syrup. With water, complex and layered richness, dry and crisp and fruity with roasted pineapple. Long flavours
Hector taking us through the tasting. Most people attending had taken a whisky course. No. 3 is the Christmas Limited Release, selling for R675 and only 500 cases made. Caramel, treacle, then interesting green notes; 46%. It is medicinal, almost pyrazine notes; nuts, apricots, caramel toffee and salt on the nose. Soft, sweet caramel nuts, treacle and orange rinds, nice and complex; the peat is shy on the palate. but adds something. Light smoke. The salt shows; with some water, the peat appears, treacle toffee, darker caramel, cooked apricots, and tart tatin apples, minerality too. It was a popular whisky at the tasting. No. 4 is a single cask 100% peated whisky at 60%. The peat is imported from Aberdeen, Islay and some from Ireland. Medicinal peat notes from Aberdeen, with honey and citrus under the peat, with leather & tobacco on the nose. A tiny sip and don’t light a match. Over peated for Lynne, the peat flavour stayed on her palate for too long. John loves this style, as did those who like peat, so it’s a personal choice
The final whisky was made in first and second fill American oak, and is 100% peated. A peat monster on the nose for those who love it, with smoky bacon wood, caramel and is bottled at 46%. Soft, sweet caramel on the palate, with a peat kiss on the end. Honey and nuts, and full in texture. With water, it changes: salty and smoky rather than peaty, silky on the palate; hiding the peat well, but it is present, as is the wood. Apricots and nuts with salty minerality on the end. Surprising and very well integrated. Also very popular and a surprise for those of us who don't like lots of peat
Michael d'Souza asking us which we preferred. They will make the most popular ones available locally. We were not the only group who were tasting these whiskies in Cape Town; they were also presented at the Whisky Live show in Johannesburg
Then some snacks were served and we relished them after the whisky
Some crisp meaty spring rolls with a dipping sauce
Roast beef on rosti
A rich creamy mushroom soup in demitasse coffee cups
Tiny salads with roasted butternut
A creamy snoek paté

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