For this Special Edition of Scotch Noob, first see my review of Paul John Brilliance, which I tasted side-by-side with this year’s Christmas Edition.
I love Christmas. I also love Thanksgiving in the US, and at this moment I am in the midst of preparing a huge meal that takes me most of the week. As soon as the air in California starts to get (relatively) chilly I start to get excited for the smells and tastes of the Holidays, as well as the time with family. This week I received a surprise package in the mail from Koray aka The Whisky Monster: a sample of Paul John’s Christmas Edition for 2021! What better way to kick off my favorite time of year?
The annual limited release of Paul John Christmas Edition is peated and matured in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels, port, and madeira casks. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration or added coloring. Like other Paul John whiskies, it is mashed from six-row barley harvested in the Himalayan foothills and distilled in Indian-made copper pot stills at the company’s distillery in Goa. This is the 4th release of Paul John’s Christmas Edition.
Thanks to Koray (who is a Brand Ambassador for Paul John) for providing my sample. Cheers, Koray!
Nose: Mulling spices! So much clove and nutmeg. A bit of a nose tickle suggests a rest in the glass. Now, there is resinous balsamic vinegar, mulled wine, butterscotch, bananas foster, and praline ice cream. A rest really allows the pungent sweetness to come through. An even longer rest reveals some of the expected wine notes: blackberry jam, port wine reduction, etc. The peat is extremely shy and serves mostly to season and add complexity.
Palate: Medium-bodied. Again baking/mulling spices are the first through the door. Clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, black licorice.
Finish: Long. A reprise of the palate flavors, especially the licorice, with some drying oak and grape skins. Fades with a hint of blackberry syrup.
With Water: Several drops of water improve the balance of sweet oak and spice notes, and make the palate sweeter. Definitely try this with some water.
Overall: The house character of Paul John is detectable, but hidden deeply beneath complex, dry, spicy flavors of heavily-aged fortified wine seasoned with barely-smoky peat. It’s less sweet than you’d expect at first, but time and a little water allows a balancing sweetness to fully complete the experience.
It was interesting to taste this side-by-side with Brilliance, which made it easier to pick out the wine-related notes. If you find opportunities to taste different whiskies from the same distillery, take them, they can really expand your appreciation.
Paul John Christmas Edition 2021 is a dram to take your time with. It does indeed remind me of the smells and tastes of Christmas, minus the fir tree. Now I’m ready for the holiday season to begin!