Whisky Exchange Show Part One: Introduction and Paul John Indian Whisky
One of highlights of the Whisky calendar is the Whisky Show, hosted by The Whisky Exchange shop in London. Taking place over the first weekend in October and with a trade only day now placed on the Monday, the show had expanded onto a second floor of the airy halls at Vinopolis in the Borough Market. There was also a whisky and food pairing room that looked to be very well attended. With a lot of the whisky community, including bloggers, journalists, retailers and bar workers coming together on the trade day of Monday the Whisky Exchange show is now just as much about networking, meeting old friends and making new ones as it is about sampling the amazing selection of whisky to be found. Most people that we spoke to are now thinking of extending their visit to two days next year and we are pretty much of the same opinion (we were planning two days this year but events overtook us). With the huge array and diversity of whiskies from around the world to sample, and lots of people to catch up with, it’s fairly evident that it can’t all be squeezed into one day.
A few days before the show a floor plan of exhibitors and a list of available whiskies to try was released. It contained something like between 400-500 different whiskies. So a little advance planning was going to be necessary. However, looking back at some of the stella drams we missed, obviously not enough planning! Our main goal was to try and sample some of the items that just aren’t available in the UK – either due to rarity or limited stock lines. So a lot of what we were looking for were the whiskies from the far flung corners of the world. Additionally there were a couple of small mini-classes (around 20 people) that were essentially a first-come-first-serve which we were very keen to get on. One included a quick tour of blends from Compass Box founder John Glasser. And on top of all of that we hoped to squeeze in a few rare Scottish drams if we had time!
Borough Market is always worth a wander around and we managed to pick up a little early lunch before the show started. Although the rain didn’t make exploring too conducive. Somehow we managed to get organised enough to be in Vinopolis pretty much at midday. A brief sojourn around the stands to soak it all in and then straight into the business end with a brand new whisky from India.
Paul John (it doesn’t sound immediately Indian does it?) is a new single malt from the fourth largest liquor company in India, John Distilleries. The company was founded in 1992 and created their “Original Choice” whisky brand – it is now, say they, the third biggest Indian whisky brand, selling 10 million cases and thus making it the 14th largest liquor brand in the world (cop that Scotland!). I think that underlines just how big the Indian market is, and why companies like Diageo really want to get in. Anyway, onto the product. This is a bunch of SINGLE CASK releases. Which for a firm that’s banging out mass booze is a very considered and quality lead approach. With only around 150 bottles of each release there probably isn’t going to be much to go around. Interesting to see how all the releases will differ in quality and consistency.
Anyway, it’s all been put in fairly good first fill bourbon casks and released at 57%. It’s spice, spice, spice all the way with a huge malt delivery. Slick and with touches of malt sweetness it holds it’s own intensity nonetheless. It’s three Indian years must equate to triple that in Scotland. Maybe lacking the depth of Amrut’s visionary spice layering but still a hugely impressive debut. Retailing around £60 this will be worth every penny. I can’t wait to get my hands on a couple of bottles of this soon and have a proper considered go. It’s knock-out stuff and a great opening to the show.
Number One Drinks with Chichibu and Karuizawa to follow….