Tasting: Paul John 5 year-old Indian Single Malt Whisky by Cadenhead’s (b.2017)

After the somewhat lackluster experience with the Rampur Select I tasted last week, let’s stay in India and look at this interesting bottling. Independently bottled Paul John, you say? How does that happen? Well, glad you asked! You buy some casks in India, have them bottled and shipped to Scotland, have some unlucky member of the warehouse staff empty all bottles into casks again, roll them into the warehouse for further maturation – and bottle the whisky once someone higher up in the food, err drink, chain decides to do it. Which didn’t take too long in the case of this 5-year-old whisky. Pretty easy, right? Let’s see if it was worth going through all that trouble…

Paul John 5yo by Cadenhead's

Dram data:
Distillery: Paul John
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: –
Bottled: Summer 2017
Age: 5 years
Limitation: 360 bottles
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
Alcohol: 57,4%
uncoloured / not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

Colour
Light amber

Nose
Remarkably rich for a whisky that’s just five years of age – but maturation is much quicker in India, so don’t be fooled by the low number! We’ve got salted caramel, creamy toffee, salted peanuts left in a smoker’s club overnight, dried apricots and a whiff of an old oak cupboard used to store grandma’s homemade preserves. After a few minutes, a slight herbal note sneaks in. Decidedly un-Scotch-y but pretty impressive!
Score: 87/100

Taste
Pretty big, bold and rather dry on the arrival – there’s a lot of alcohol (but not too bad) with orange zest, strawberries, dried apricots stored in an oak jar, salted brazil nuts left in the same smoky bar as the peanuts featured on the nose, burnt sugar and salted caramel. Don’t add too much water – but a splash does help to open the whisky up!
Score: 84/100

Finish
Long. Quite big upon swallowing with pepper, burnt caramel, burnt sugar, leading into a slight dark sweetness before a hint of smoke remains for a long time after all the other aromas are gone.
Score: 86/100

Verdict
A big, funky single malt from India! There’s more to it than the label suggests – it’s a beefy, hefty, mature dram with a good balance between cask and spirit and the presumably (very) slightly peated malt used in the production adds another layer without screaming “PEAT!” The only real setback with this one is the price. Indian whisky is not exactly cheap, especially the Single Cask ones and there’s the additional overhead of bottling and recasking and the logistics behind the project. I had to sleep a few nights over forking over 119€. Was it worth it? Yes. This was bottled back in 2017 but there might still be bottles kicking around – and Cadenhead’s are continually releasing newer and older versions so keep an eye out for them – they are worth giving at least a try!
Overall Score: 86/100

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