Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Even though the the winter holiday season has now passed us by, the Indian whisky maker Paul John Whisky’s recent release of its single malt Christmas Edition 2022 is still something one can enjoy any time of year. This is the fifth addition to their annual limited Christmas Editions.
2022’s offering is non chill-filtered and contains no added colors or flavors. To enhance the taste naturally, it is concocted from malts aged in ex-bourbon and finished in brandy and peated Oloroso casks. Oloroso is a Spanish fortified wine known for bringing out dark fruit and nutty notes in whiskies, as well as contributing to a darker color.
Sometimes I feel whiskies that are aged or finished in exotic or different casks are overhyped. At times I don’t feel that the added complexity distilleries advertise from barrel choice live up to the marketing. In this case, I think the unusual cask choices paid off. I love when I can go back to a whisky and pick out different notes the longer I sit with it. Paul John Christmas Edition 2022 had notes that were complex, complementary and unfurled and shifted the more I went back, and I could pick out barrel influences that attributed to that experience.
For those that don’t know of it, Paul John Whisky is based in the state of Goa on the western coast of India. Their 6-row barley is sourced from regions further north in the country, even up to the foothills of the Himalayas.
Paul John Whisky is a brand of John Distilleries. Founded in 1996, John Distilleries has grown to be an influential spirit company in India and abroad. Presently, Sazerac Company, an American alcoholic beverage company, owns a majority share in John Distilleries.
Tasting Notes: Paul John Christmas Edition 2022
Vital Stats: Sold in 50mL and 750mL bottles. 46% ABV. The 750mL bottle is approximately $80.
Appearance: The liquid is a golden chestnut brown.
Nose: Vanilla and strong peppery spices are at the forefront, followed quickly by baked apples and brown sugar with a slight maltiness. At the tail end a sweet, dark note came through. Some are saying chocolate here, but for me, it was more of a date note (perhaps the Oloroso influence). The nose reminded me of apple crisp and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Christmas indeed!
Palate: The vanilla and apple pie stays on the palate, though the dark fruit note does not cross over. The baking spice is accompanied by a strong peppery heat. Oak, apricot, malt, and light peat notes add depth. The flavors, though complex, are warm and inviting. The whisky has a soft, creamy mouthfeel and the finish is delightfully lingering and peppery.
Whisky Review: Paul John Christmas Edition 2022
Paul John Christmas Edition 2022 surprised me in the best possible way. Perhaps my brain was already primed by the name, but this whisky tasted like Christmas. Vanilla, spice, apple, and dark fruit remind me of the best desserts of the winter holidays, so this drink felt cozy and nostalgic in addition to festive.
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Larissa Banitt is a writer and nurse born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She's a foodie, whisk(e)y nerd, and animal lover. You'll often find her hiking with her dog, trail-riding with her horse, or crocheting with her cats.