We were very privileged to have a visit from distiller Paul P John in March. That name might not ring a bell with most Kiwi whisky lovers, but take our advice: It might one day be as famous as Johnnie Walker or William Grant.
The big difference is that Paul John is not Scottish, but Indian (from Goa to be exact). And these days, the distillery not only matches the Scots for single malt whisky, he thrashes the kilts off them!
That's not just our opinion either, that is the view of the world's foremost independent whisky critic, Jim Murray. In his seminal publication, the Whisky Bible 2016, he rates all five Paul John whiskies as “Liquid Gold”, with scores between 94.5 and 96.5 out of 100. The top whisky in the world for 2016 scored just 97.5 – which is also the highest score he has ever handed out. So, you can see Murray thinks the whiskies sit at the very top of the tree… and yet, the prices remain amazingly affordable (especially in light of the expensive maturation process, where they lose 10-12% per year to Angel's Share, as opposed to 2% in Scotland).
A quick look at how some of the world's most famous malts fared in the 2016 edition puts it into perspective: Glenfiddich 12yo (85.5), Laphroaig 10yo (90), Talisker 12yo (86), Caol Ila 12yo (89), Chivas Regal 12yo (83.5) and Johnnie Walker Blue (88).
If you take our word for it about the quality, all that remains is to find the style you prefer from the Paul John range… the Brilliance and Select Cask Classic are your typical unpeated, smooth, honeyed Highland/Speyside styles, the latter a cask strength at 55.2%. The Peated and Select Cask Peated more along the lines of Islay (again the Select Cask is stronger); while the Edited is the middle ground, a gently peated style that also happens to be Jim Murray's favourite (as well as mine) with 96.5 points.
Fine Wine Delivery Co is one of the few retail outlets in New Zealand to have access to these sublime Indian malts – so if you want to be an early adopter before the price inevitably shoots up…click here to see the full range!