If you have been trying to keep up with Cadenheads
throughout 2017 with their relentless 175th Anniversary release
programme, then I feel your pain. I’ve driven to that cliff edge and looked
down into the abyss trying to imagine what life was like prior to the monthly
outturns and the glimmer of light that 2018 with its sanctuary offers.
Take my debit card for instance. It now features a healthy
crack and the contactless payment chip has stopped working. Whilst I’d like to
blame Cadenheads for the chip, I know whiskies under the £30 are few and far
between even with their affordable prices. However, it has seen extensive use
this year in their shop! Sometime during July the whisky-shock feeling really
hit home. Fuelled by the excellent 30th Anniversary Edinburgh Tasting, where attendees had the option to purchase bottles from the warehouse casks
this meant just an additional 6 bottles to my stockpile including that sublime
Kilkerran. Then as I type this, the prospect of exclusive shop bottlings as
part of the Anniversary celebration including one for Aberdeen (the original
site of Cadenheads) along with I reckon another Festival bottling… it’s a
celebration we won’t see the likes of again for at least 25 years.
I’ve stopped going out socially, I’m living on a diet of
beans on toast and I keep to a constant efficient speed of 55mph even on the
motorway. All to enable further whiskies discoveries and enjoyment. Is it worth
the effort? Yes, and that’s the beauty of whisky when you become fully immersed
in the genre. Some evenings I’d rather have a decent conversation with a half
empty bottle of Glen Keith than venture outside.
Seriously though, monthly outturns are a difficult scenario
for the shop staff and consumers. It’s pretty obvious when the list lands as a
Cadenhead Club member what the AAA releases are, but quite often it’s the
hidden gems that sway me. That Knockdhu 10-year-old for instance, I really
enjoyed the recent 11-year-old Teaninich whilst I missed out on the 23-year-old
Glenlossie. You cannot help to catch ‘em all unless you have really deep
pockets or a healthy credit card. There has to be some financial responsibility
although looking at some of the auctions as I type this, folk are buying
anything single cask with a view to putting it online. Crazy and stupid.
Throughout the year I’ll have missed a couple of gems I’m
sure, but overall it’s not been too bad. A little bit of maturity sinks in and
word of mouth directs you towards something you may have overlooked. Such was the
case – albeit I was already somewhat interested – when I was given a sample
blind of this Paul John 5-year-old by one of the YCT (Young Cadenhead Team)
who inhabit the Edinburgh store. First impressions were very favourable and
with a whisky such as this, the experience does the sales pitch. Positive
reaction aside, it shows that Paul John are doing something worthwhile in Goa
and given the hot climate, the rate of evaporation means in Scottish terms this
whisky is around 15-years-old.
This is the first Paul John or Indian whisky bottled by
Cadenheads and I had heard stories about it being decanted into bottles then
flown over with the cask to be reacquainted in a Campbeltown warehouse. I’m
sure other releases will follow and we’re starting to see more independent
bottlings from Paul John as its reputation grows. It’s a brand I haven’t had
too much experience with, as it’s hard enough keeping up with Scottish releases
nowadays however since John Distilleries established a pot-still distillery in
Goa to produce traditional single malt it’s been a rollercoaster. First hitting
the shelves in 2012, awards and recognition have soon followed. Arguably the
greatest accolade is being bottled by Cadenheads?
The Paul John was distilled in 2011, before being bottled
at a robust 57.4% strength from a bourbon hogshead. With an outturn of 360
bottles, I know this has gone down extremely well with the London and Edinburgh
stores resulting in a sell-out. Price was around £85, which compares well to
other independent releases. It’s still out there if you want to hunt it down,
or prepare for the next bottling…
Nose: punchy with tropical fruits initially, let’s give it a
little longer in the glass. Now it’s a dry tobacco with cardamom, caraway seed
and cloves. Yes, there’s a peppery aspect moving into treacle-like density and
yet when you return there’s that initial fruit burst. A brief sparkle of red
berries then you’re into the spicing before being left with traces of cumin
seed. In-between there’s a nutty aspect with a light caramel and plenty of
delight to be had here.
Taste: chocolate is my initial impression before this
transfers into warmed peppercorns and then a mild mustard. Again, it’s the spicing
with each ingredient toasted to a certain degree. Caramel, pepper, walnuts and
more tobacco laced with a really dry cinnamon.
Overall: this is a whisky you can sit down with, really
enjoy and appreciate on many levels. The nose is the most memorable part once
you delve in, with the palate closely behind. I suppose some may get hung up on
the fact it’s not from Scotland, or just 5-years-old but the proof is very much
in the tasting.
Many thanks to Just Whisky for kindly providing the photograph used in this review.
Labels: cadenhead, featured, paul john