The Whisky Tasting Club

Interview with Krish Kumar, Paul John Distillery

WIZARDS OF WHISKY ASIAN DISTILLER 2015: PAUL JOHN DISTILLERY, INDIA Indian distiller Paul John has successfully defended its title as Asian Distiller of The Year. And it did so this year with considerably more ease than it did last year, when it held off strong opposition from indian distiller Amrut and Taiwanese distiller Kavalan. Paul John, which last year went on to win World Distiller of the Year, the highest accolade given in The Wizards of Whisky world Whisky Awards, has now won its category in both the years that it entered. The distillery became the second major distillery to emerge from India after Amrut when it launched a core range of products in to the United Kingdom market some three years ago. It initially launched a non-peated and lightly peated whisky and then a peaty whisky. but it is its single cask and cask strength whiskies that have got people turning heads. This year, though, facing a different judging panel to 2014, it picked up medals for both its core range and its excellent single casks.

Interview with Krish Kumar, general manager, international sales & marketing, Paul John Distillery kumar   Q. You won World Distiller of the Year in 2014 but the year seemed to be quiet from an Indian whisky point of view. So what sort of year did Paul John have?

We were very delighted to have won the World Distiller of the Year 2014. I agree that the start of the year was rather quiet. Most distilleries will say the same as January  and February are known to be the holiday blues months. But we did gain momentum mid-year, for sure. Diwali festival is known to bring light according to Indian belief. It certainly did in regards with Paul John activities as the sales received a boost with the Diwali promotions that we carried out at the Whisky Exchange website and the retailer promotion across all retailers in the UK..

Q. How important have the single cask whiskies been for you?

Single casks have been very important for us from day one. Single casks have formed an Aura for our brand and will remain the most prestigious variant. Every variant is special in its on way and has a story behind it, but single cask has something very special about it. (suppose once they are gone they are gone). We have received some fantastic reviews for each of our single casks and we have some more casks on its way for the UK and Europe.

Q. Do you have any new releases planned ?

There are some plans in the pipeline which have not been finalised yet. We might have an answer to this question in couple of months’ time. Request the industry to keep their eyes peeled though, as something very exciting is on its way.

Q. How important is the UK market to your future?

The UK is where the whisky was first launched and will remain very very important. Whisky is on the up in UK and will remain vital for us. Having said that, giants such as  France and Germany will also receive equal attention from us. We believe that each of the European countries will need equal attention and will need to perform equally well for a brand to be successful.

Q. What are your plans going forward in to 2015?

We have some amazing plans both for marketing and sales in the pipeline which will help us perform better compared to 2014. We will be working very closely and paying a lot of attention to each of our partners across Europe offering full support to maximise their potential. We are launching Paul John in Italy and will be a part of Spirit of Scotland festival in Rome. Also, we are looking at new partners to come on board in various other countries.

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WORLD WHISKY REVIEW FEBRUARY 2015

MY VIEW – FEBRUARY 2015
So here they are – the results of the third annual Wizards of Whisky Awards and boy, was it hard work this year. More entries, fiercer competition, some organisational issues and an exhausting judging process – it has taken about eight months to reach this point. Which it means it’s nearly time to start all over again…
But I’m delighted by the results, proud of all my judges, 100 per cent happy with the way we reached the outcome and with the winners. You can’t please everyone all of the time – especially when it comes to passing judgement on winners and losers from a group who all think they are winners – which, by definition they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be entering a competition.
But once more I honestly feel that The Wizards are the best reflection of what’s happening in ‘New World Whisky’ and that’s because I have such a strong specialist whisky-tasting panel that has been tasting whiskies from as far afield as New Zealand and Iceland for some 10 years now. As always,the whiskies were tasted totally blind, and no favours were conferred on any single distillery or nation. I pride myself on having no favourites and in treating all distilleries equally and with total fairness. It’s in my DNA – and anyway, I wasn’t a judge.

Our winners are an intriguing mix of old and new, straddled by the winner of the overall World Distiller of the Year, Mackmyra. On the one hand the distillery was in the original vanguard of ‘New World’ whiskies, one of a few that led the charge a decade or so ago. My VIP group has been tasting its malts since the very earliest bottlings of Privus and Preludium years ago.
But on the other, it didn’t enter the Awards until this year, making its triumph particularly impressive. While the whiskies were tasted blind, I do wonder whether my judges, who have always enjoyed Mackmyra’s whiskies, recognised distinctive characteristics while judging.

Not everyone was happy with the judging process, but I stand vigorously by it.  It is deliberately designed to make awards success accessible to all distillers across the world, no matter how modest their budgets, and to recognise quality at every level. I have always approached my profession with honesty and integrity and the Wizards reflect that. And that’s why, I think, they are thriving.
That said, there will have to be changes next year because the awards are becoming too big to organise the way I have done over the last three years. This year, for example, it became impractical to have a London judging panel because there were too many whiskies to transport.
But change is a good thing, and I am looking forward to unveiling exciting plans for the coverage of New World Whisky in the coming weeks. Watch this space.

WIZARDS FLY HIGH OVER EUROPE
Europe has dominated the 2015 Wizards of Whisky awards, with two of its distilleries battling it out for initially the European Distiller of The Year and then The World Distiller of The Year.
Mackmyra of Sweden proved that it is still a major force to be reckoned with when it comes to distinctive and unusual whiskies, winning both titles with four excellent malt whiskies.  Three of the best four malt whiskies came from the Swedish whisky, with the fourth finishing seventh.
But Zuidam in The Netherlands can consider itself unlucky not to lift both titles itself. It actually achieved more gold medals than Mackmyra but with lower scores, and therefore a lower average score across its range.

It was highly commended by judges for its Millstone range of whiskies. The English Whisky Company also produced very strong results. Sweden produced another high scorer with Spirit of Hven, which achieved gold. This meant that the Scandinavians produced five of the seven top malts.

The other notable success in Europe was France, which well and truly put itself on the New World Whisky map with two golds for Distillerie Warenghem and Brenne respectively.

Elsewhere Paul John of India managed to hold off a strong challenge form Kavalan of Taiwan to hold on to its Asian award, Balcones shrugged off its recent troubles to regain its US Craft Distillery title, and newcomers Still Waters lifted the Canadian trophy.

The most disappointing category this year was Australasia, mainly because the distillers Down Under are too busy targeting their limited supplies of whisky to an insatiable consumer demand to risk creating even more demand by winning further accolades in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, two awards did head southwards, with Heartwood lifting the Independent Bottler of the Year crown after a fierce battle with very Bros & Rudd in the United Kingdom.

The most fiercely contested category of all, though, was Ireland, reflecting the growing number of world class whiskeys coming from the country.

The title just went to Bushmills after a tight three-way fight involving Irish Distillers and Teeling.
The Wizards of Whisky World’s Best malt went to Mackmyra’s Midnattssol.

Although Scottish whiskies can only be entered through the independent bottler category, the country still reminded us where the whisky power base still remains. A Scotch blend produced by independent company That Boutique-y Whisky Co lifted the title of the Wizards World’s Best Other Grains Whisky.

Full results and interviews to follow.

 

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Wizards of Whisky World’s Best Other Grain Whiskies 2015

Best other grain whisky:

Boutique-y Company Blended Whisky Batch 1, Scotland                83.3

Second best other grain whisky: Balcones Baby Blue, USA    82.5

Third best other grain whisky: Powers John’s Lane, Ireland    81.3
4. Millstone 100 Rye, Zuidam, The Netherlands   GOLD
5. Balcones Brimstone, USA      GOLD
6. Syntax Spirits Wine Barrel Bourbon, USA   GOLD
7. Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Cask Strength, USA GOLD
8. Whistlepig 100-100 Straight Rye, USA    GOLD
9. Millstone Five Grain, Zuidam, The Netherlands   GOLD
10. Syntax Spirits Bourbon, USA      GOLD
11. Balcones Bourbon, USA      GOLD
12. Green spot, Ireland       GOLD
13. Teeling single Grain, Ireland       GOLD
14. The Oamaruvian, New Zealand     GOLD
15. Lord Elcho blended whisky, Scotland    GOLD
16. Redbreast 12 Year Old, Ireland     SILVER
17. Stalk & Barrel Canadian Whisky     SILVER
18. Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 46%, USA   SILVER
19. Bushmills, Ireland        SIL-VER
20. Black Bush, Ireland       SILVER
21. Telsington Rye, Liechtenstein     SILVER
22. NZ Doublewood, New Zealand      SILVER
23. Syntax Big Cat Whiskey      SiLVER
24. Millstone Menage A Trois, Zuidam, The Netherlands SILVER
25. NZ Digger And Ditch, New Zealand     SILVER
26. One, England        BRONZE
27. Kings County Bourbon, USA      BRONZE
28. Kings County Moonshine, USA     BRONZE

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Wizards of Whisky World Distiller of The Year 2015

mackmyraSwedish distiller Mackmyra has been crowned Wizards of Whisky World Distiller of the Year 2015 after dominating the malt whisky category of the awards.

All four entries from the distillery achieved gold medals and finished in the top seven malt whiskies tasted blind by a panel of 12 judges. Mackmyra Midnattssol also won the title of Wizards World’s Best Malt 2015. Mackmyra is one of the longest established ‘New World’ distillers but this is the first time the distillery has entered the Wizards Awards. Judges were particularly impressed with the diversity of malts, which included peaty, savoury, sweet and fruity malt selections.

Mackmyra moved in to a new and larger distillery three years ago and matures its casks  at a number of different sites , including a former armoury on an island off Stockholm, and an underground mine. It also uses a range of cask types, including quarter casks.  It has a range of whiskies made up if core brands and special releases. The four submitted this year include two new releases: Reserve and Vintage. As organiser and non-participating chairman of the judging panel, I am delighted for master whisky blender Angela D’Orazio and her team, but not surprised. I have been writing about the distillery since its earliest days and have seen it progress from early Privus and Preludium bottlings to the excellent bootlegs entered this year. Mackmyra’s whiskies are more ‘regionalised’ than any other New World Whisky, their taste influenced by local ingredients including a salty peat which is very distinctive to that used in Scotland, and from the juniper twigs occasionally used to dry the barley. Mackmyra also won European Distiller of the Year, where Swedish distiller Spirit of Hven also secured a gold. In all Sweden provided five of the top seven places in the malts category, and judging from the samples I recently received from Box in Sweden, there will be more success to follow from the country. Other outstanding performances in this year’s awards came from Zuidam in The Netherlands, Bushmills in Ireland, Balcones in America and Paul John in India.

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Wizards of Whisky World’s Best Other Grain Whiskies 2015

 That Boutique-y Whisky Company Scotch Blend Batch One

blend
A blended Scotch whisky has been chosen as the best ‘other grains’ whisky in The Wizards of Whisky World Whisky Awards.

The blend, called Scotch Blend Batch One and bottled at 50.3% by online drinks retailer Master of Malt as part of its Boutique-y Whisky range, beat ryes, bourbons pot still whiskeys and mixed grain whiskies from across the world to take the award.

The whisky was one of only handful of blends competing in the wizards, but its victory is a timely reminder – should open be needed – that Scotland can still make world beating whisky, even in a category often considered inferior to other whisky styles.

Other whiskies that scored well in The Wizards include Balcones Baby Blue, Powers John’s Lane, Balcones Brimstone, and Millstone 100. Rye.

In all 30 ‘other grain’ whiskies achieved a gold or silver medal in the Awards.

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WIZARDS AMERICAN CRAFT DISTILLER OF THE YEAR 2015

BALCONES, TEXAS

balcones
It’s business as usual for Texan distillers Balcones, who have put a line under a difficult few months by reclaiming their title as Wizards of Whisky American Craft Distiller of the Year.
The distillers fought off fierce competition from a range of American craft distillers, but in particular Syntax Spirits of Colorado, who entered for the first time and who did particularly well with its bourbon and wine barrel bourbon.

Balcones single barrel bourbon and Brimstone repeated the success of pervious years but perhaps the big surprise was Baby Blue, which was the top scoring American whiskey this year and was only outscored by ‘other grain’ category winner The Boutique-y Company Blended Scotch whisky.

Balcones is no stranger to these awards. It won the World Distiller of the Year two years ago and the World’s Best Malt last year. But this year’s result will be particularly sweet for the distillery team after a difficult few months in which they acrimoniously parted company with distillery founder Chip Tate.

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Wizards of Whisky Best World Single Malts 2015

World’s best single malt: Mackmyra Mittnattssol, Sweden  84.5 GOLD


2nd best single malt:        Brenne 10 Year Old, France         82.3 GOLD


3rd best single malt:        Macmyra Reserve, Sweden         82.3 GOLD


4. Mackmyra Rōk,  Sweden        GOLD

5. Millstone PX 1999, Zuidam, The Netherlands    GOLD

6. Spirit of Hven Seven Stars , Sweden      GOLD

7. Mackmyra Vintage, Sweden       GOLD

8. Berry Bros & Rudd Blue Hanger 11th Release, Scotland  GOLD

9. Balcones French Oak, USA       GOLD

10. Kavalan Kingcar, Taiwan        GOLD

11. St George’s Chapter 13, England      GOLD

12. Millstone 5 Grain, Zuidam, The Netherlands    GOLD

13. Berry Bros & Rudd Linkwood 1987, Scotland    GOLD

14. Bushmills 21 Year Old, Ireland       GOLD

15. Bushmills 16 Year Old, Ireland       GOLD

16. Millstone 12 Year Old Sherry Cask, Zuidam, The Netherlands GOLD

17. Millstone French Oak, Zuidam, The Netherlands    GOLD

18. Berry Bros & Rudd Glencadam 1991, Scotland    GOLD

19. Paul John Peated, India        GOLD

20. St Georges Chapter 15, England      GOLD

21. Bushmills 10 Year Old, Ireland       GOLD

22. Paul John Edited, India        GOLD

23. Kavalan Solist Bourbon Cask       GOLD

24. Teeling Single Malt, Ireland       GOLD

25. Armorik, France         GOLD

26. Heartwood Convict Redemption, Australia     GOLD

27. Heartwood The Beagle, Australia      GOLD

28. Paul John Classic, India        GOLD

29. Millstone American Oak, Zuidam, The Netherlands   SILVER

30. St George’s Chapter 14, England      SILVER

31.Balcones Single Malt, USA         SILVER

32. St George’s Chapter 12, England      SILVER

33. Kavalan Podium, Taiwan        SILVER

34. St George’s Chapter 11, England      SILVER

35. Millstone 5 Year Old, Zuidam, The Netherlands   SILVER

36. Paul John Cask 1446, India       SILVER

37. Paul John Brilliance, India        SILVER

38. Millstone Menage a Trois, Zuidam, The Netherlands  SILVER

39. Master of Malt Tobermory, Scotland      SILVER

40. Master of Malt Glenrothes, Scotland      SILVER

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WIZARDS OF WHISKY EUROPEAN DISTILLER OF THE YEAR 2015

MACKMYRA, SWEDEN

mackmyra

Sweden has restocked its claim to the title of being the world’s leading non traditional whisky making country in emphatic style, with a stunning performance from long established distillery Mackmyra, ably supported by smaller distillers Spirit of Hven.
Mackmyra was awarded four high scoring gold medals for its four entries, and with Spirit of Hven also picking up a big gold medal, Sweden occupied five of the top seven places of the world’s top scoring malts this year.

But Sweden didn’t have it all its own way – Zuidam in the Netherlands also enjoyed a huge amount of success. It picked up four gold medals and three silvers.

A record number of entries were entered in to the European category this year, and it was the largest category in the 2015 Wizards. Half of the gold medals given to single malt whiskies in 2015 were from distilleries in Europe. Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2015 was the performance of a new 10 year old whisky from Brenne in France.

The whisky, from the Cognac region, is not officially released until the Autumn and will be released only in America. But it was the second highest single malt whisky in The Wizards of Whisky, with four judges scoring at more than 90.

The Wizards of Whisky Awards are chosen by a panel of judges after a blind tasting. I do not take part of the judging. To win a Distillery of the Year award the distillery must enter at least three whiskies.

Watch out for the full top 40 Wizards of Whisky World Single Malts, published later today.

Tomorrow: American Craft Distiller of The Year and world’s best other grain whiskey

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WIZARDS OF WHISKY IRISH DISTILLER OF THE YEAR

BUSHMILLS

bushmills
Northern Ireland’s Bushmills Distillery has held off fierce competition from Irish Distillers and Teeling to take the title of Wizards of Whisky Irish Distiller of the Year in what proved to be the closest contest of the Awards so far.

Seven gold medals and four silver medals were shared by the three main producers of Irish whiskey this year, with Bushmills picking up three golds for its single malt whiskeys aged 10, 16 and 21 years old.

An average of just three per cent separated the three distillers but all of Bushmills’ whiskey entries scored consistently highly. The Bushmills victory means that over the three years of The Wizards Awards Ireland has consistently produced the tightest results. Bushmills is the third different winner in three years.

The award comes at a significant time for the distillery after it was recently sold off by Diageo to Mexican tequila giant Jose Cuervo, who described the acquisition as the most important in its history and promised to nurture and develop the Bushmills portfolio in the future.

Read how Bushmills has reacted to the news of its victory in the next issue of World Whisky Review, published on line next week.
TOMORROW: EUROPEAN DISTILLER OF THE YEAR

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WIZARDS OF WHISKY ASIAN DISTILLER 2015

PAUL JOHN DISTILLERY, INDIA

pauljohn

 

Indian distiller Paul John has successfully defended its title as Asian Distiller of The Year. And it did so this year with considerably more ease than it did when it held off strong opposition from indian distiller Amrut and Taiwanese distiller Kavalan.
Paul John, which last year went on to win World distiller of the Year, the highest accolade given in The Wizards of Whisky world Whisky Awards, has now won its category in both the years that it entered.
The distillery became the second major distillery to emerge from India after Amrut when it launched a core range of products in to the United Kingdom market some three years ago.
It initially launched a non-peated and lightly peated whisky and then a peaty whisky. but it is its single cask and cask strength whiskies that have got people turning heads.
This year, tough, facing a different judging panel to 2014, it picked up medals for both its core range and its excellent single casks. Full details on the medal winners will be published  next week

To read what Paul John is planning for the year ahead, see the February issue of The World Whisky Review published online at the end of the month
Tomorrow: Irish Distiller of the Year

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