OKAY STOP RIGHT THERE. Immediately put whatever preconceptions you may have about Indian whisky on hold. Just for a second. Think back to before you tried Kavalan – the Concertmaster, or any of their Solist range. Think of what “Taiwanese whisky” meant to you and how quickly that particular notion got bludgeoned into submission the moment you took one little whiff of the glass.
Paul John burst onto the SA scene a little over a year ago with a series of high-profile tastings at several larney venues in Joburg and Cape Town. And it only took a few seconds after liquid-hit-lips for jaws to hit floors, wiping the smug looks off the red nosed whisky nerd faces.
Although at this point I’ve been lucky enough to try the entire Paul John range, I decided to start with (spoiler alert) my favourite of the batch, which will give subsequent writeups of the others more of an interesting benchmark.
Paul John Edited is their mildly peated, mildly sherried (?) middle-child. If the words “peat” and “sherry” conjure up images of Lagavulin or Highland Park you’re already on the right track. Bottled at 46%, non-age-stated, natural colour and non-chill filtered. So off to a great start.
India, show us what you got!
A dark, rusty red-brown.
Rich, check. Spice, check. Sweet – no doubt. And peat – oh yes, but fairly subtle. Wood-smoke, rather than the ashtray variety. Dusty old cupboards. Hot chocolate. Oranges. Yes.
Yessir. Yes. Sir. Yessiree. If it isn’t my old friend, The Spice Tree. But what’s this? (Ding-dong) Peat! you’ve arrived. Peat, meet my friend, The Spice Tree. The Spice Tree, Peat is – (Peat and The Spice Tree begin making out aggressively.) Fast forward 9 months and Peat and The Spice Tree have had a beautiful baby, called Paul John Edited. Sniff.
We’ve got a winner!
My suspicions about whether or not Edited uses a splash of sherry cask have never been officially confirmed, but I’ll be damned if there aren’t layers of sherry goodness going on here. Possibly just the result of this ludicrous world-class blending throwing me off. This is how’s its done gentlewomen – concentrate, Highland Park!
The peat… oh man, the peat. I want to say… “interwoven”. Integral. It’s part of this Edited’s DNA, not some hasty addition to score points with Islaybois. Never overpowering, but ever-present. Rich, oaky, campfire smoke. Laced with spice – parprika, Johnnie Black style. A little clove. Some almonds. Citrusy, with zest on the finish. And toffee sweetness keeping it all together.
A splash is tolerable, but chilled is better. Either get a fat ice block and drink it quickly, or stick to it neat. It’s delicious both neat or cold, and while the water dials down the heat, it also punishes the peat – but only barely. Swims better than Lagavulin.
Not much to say here, except that every atom of liquid in Paul John Edited is pure “yes”. And the price is a no-brainer – the cheapest top-rated whisky I’ve ever tasted. Hell yeah.
If you don’t want a party in your mouth, then avoid Paul John Edited. If you’re happy to tolerate the burden of one of the most delicious, masterful and comparatively affordable bottles of whisky on the planet, buy yourself a case or two.