Posts

Paul John – 6-row barley Whisky

Whiskygeeks sat down for an extraordinary tasting with Yash, the brand ambassador for Paul John whisky! He’s a geek himself, graduating from the Harriet Watts brewing and distilling masters course, and I have learnt a lot!

The Barley

One of the unique things about Paul John is their use of 6-row barley for their core range whisky production. However, this is not bere barley from Orkney; this 6-row barley originated from the Himalayas and grows in India today. In contrast, most whisky producers use 2-row barley like Concerto or Optic strains. In Scotch, the most common 6-row barley used is Bere Barley that originates from Orkney. 

While the 2-row barley has more sugar but fewer proteins and fats, it is the reverse for 6-row barley. As we would need sugar to ferment to alcohol, this means that the alcohol yield for 6-row barley is lower than 2-row barley. However, for 6-row barley, the higher content of barley fats and protein results in more flavour and complexity in its spirit character. 

The Peat

Paul John produces peated and unpeated whisky and brings in 2 kinds of Scottish peat. The barley is peated using Islay peat and Mainland peat to approximately 20-25ppm and 30-35ppm respectively. The Paul John Bold uses Islay peat while the Paul John Edited uses mainland peat. These two bottles make an interesting comparison between peat from 2 different regions as the whisky comes from the same pot stills.

The Fermentation

The fermentation process is approximately 70 hours in total, using a unique strain of yeast that performs well in Goa’s hot climate. The wash undergoes a 60-hour primary fermentation and sits in the washback for an additional 10 hours to develop flavour. During the warmer seasons, the fermentation is slightly faster, and during the colder seasons, more time is given for fermentation.

Distillation

The copper pot stills in Paul John distillery is not from Forsyths, but they were made locally in India! The still features an ascending lyne arm, which causes more reflux, allowing for a sweeter lightly distillate. 

The Maturation

The angel’s share in Goa is 8% per annum, which means that whisky ageing in Goa will lose 22% of its original volume in 3 years. However, as whisky matures faster in a warm climate, a 3-year-old whisky in India would taste like a 12 to 15-year-old Scotch! 

For the past few years, Paul John has released mostly American white oak matured whisky primarily due to the law in India with importing casks. There is a new upcoming bottle that I cannot talk about at the time of writing this article, but let me say this – Christmas is coming early for sherried whisky drinkers! 😛

Paul John’s main ageing facility is on the ground level with ventilation from the wind. The distillery also has an underground cellar with a slightly lower angel’s share. Yash told us that it’s a challenge to stay in the underground cellar as the alcohol vapours are thick and intoxicating!

Challenge accepted!

Guest Writer: Hongfu’s take on Glengoyne’s Production

Glengoyne is a beautiful Highland Distillery with a warehouse just across the road in the lowlands. They have a long reputation of using quality casks and produces whiskies that are sweet, unpeated and sherried. It came as no surprise to me when M&S chose to feature a 14-year-old in their range! Glengoyne holds many special memories for me – Jonathan Scott conducted my first proper whisky tasting at The Single Cask @CHIJMES, and I had Glengoyne 21 year old as a gift on my 21stbirthday from a generous friend!

With the help of Zerlina from WhiskyGeeks and Jonathan Scott of Glengoyne Distillery, I got an exclusive tour to learn the production of this delicious golden nectar! As a way of saying thanks, I asked Zerlina if I could write an article for WhiskyGeeks to share my experience at Glengoyne, and so, here it is!

My Glengoyne Experience

Glengoyne is a mid-sized distillery producing approximately 1 million litres per year. Glengoyne has two water sources. It uses the water from Loch Carron for production and Blairgar Burn for heating and cooling. 100% of the malt used is the Concerto variety coming from Simpsons, a malting company just to the right of Edinburgh. That might change in the future as more distilleries start switching to the Laureate variety. Some other distilleries have allegedly had their highest yield in their wash during experiments, so this seems promising for the future of this barley variety!

The Production Process

Mashing

The mill crushes the malted barley to grist to break open the husk of the grain. The rollers of the mill grind barley to a standard ratio of approximately 20% Husk, 10% Flour, and 70% Grist. This ratio is vital to prevent clogs and blockages in the pipes. The grist mixed with water to form a mash, with a porridge consistency, which is similar to adding hot water to a bowl of oatmeal. A traditional rack style mash tun, which has rakes turning continuously, mixes the “porridge” mash. The hot water helps dissolve some of the soluble sugars and to start breaking down the starch in the barley into sweet soluble sugar. This process separates the sugars from most of the solids. Hot water is added three times at Glengoyne to extract almost all the sugars from the mash. Each stream of water is hotter than the previous one.

Glengoyne’s way

At Glengoyne, the first stream of water to mix with the grist is at 64oC, followed by a second stream of water at 78oC. The first and second streams break most of the starch in the grist into sugar.  The third and final water stream comes approximately between 88-90oC to take away any remaining sugar. The process strips almost all the sugar in the grist, much like how hot water dissolves more chocolate and much faster than cold water. The temperatures of the water streams gradually increase so as not to change the natural qualities of the malted barley.

Fermentation

The sugared water from the first and second streams is called wort. The distillery cools the wort to below 20oC before channelling it to the washbacks for fermentation. The temperature is crucial as yeast cannot survive in high heat. The sugary liquid from the third stream of water is called the sparge. Sparge is very hot and have low sugar content. The sparge isn’t wasted though; it is piped away to be used as the first stream for the next mash at 64oC. The remaining barley solids in the mash tun is called the draff, and though it has almost no sugar, it is high in proteins. The draff is sold to farmers as cattle feed. It builds a very strong relationship between Glengoyne and the farmers around the area. Draff also grows healthy cows and produces delicious Scottish beef!

Fermentation at Glengoyne

A 20kg bag of Pinnacle Distillers Dry Yeast (MG+) – Photo by Hongfu Teo

The distillery uses Douglas Fir Wooden Washbacks for fermentation. Douglas Fir trees have fewer branches with lesser weak points, making them strong and lasting as washbacks. Each washback can last a couple of decades.

Each mash pipes into one of six Douglas Fir Wooden Washbacks for a fermentation period of approximately 56 hours. The team adds MG+ Pinnicale Dry Yeast into the washback to start the fermentation process. The yeast will change the dissolved sugars in the wort into low strength alcohol. This fizzy beer-like liquid brewed in the washbacks is called wash, and when the team completes the fermentation, the wash has an alcoholic strength of approximately 8.5% abv.

Distillation

Glengoyne’s Stills (from left) – Wash Still and 2 Spirits Stills (Photo by Hongfu Teo)

This wash is then sent to the wash still, which is the bigger pot still with three windows on the left of the photo. The wash still takes away some of the water and all the solid particles. This is done by heating the liquid until it bubbles. The vapours rise to the top of the pot still and down the lyne arm, to a shell and tube condenser that turns the vapour into liquid. The distillate from the wash still, known as low wine, flows down the lyne arm at approximately 16L/min. This low wine has an abv of 24%. The low wines enter the tank called the low wine receiver.

The stillmen have to ensure that the wash does not boil over the still and go down the lyne arm by monitoring the bubbles constantly. This is to ensure that the low wine does not have solid particles. The window on the still is usually the indicator that this still is a wash still.

A Second Distillation

The stillmen split the low wines between the two small onion-bulb Spirit Stills (in the picture above) to be distilled a second time. The second distillation increases the alcohol percentage of the final product. The pair of spirit stills is on the right of the photo above. The distillate comes out of the Spirit still in three stages: the Foreshots, the New-Make and the Feints (aka the Head, the Heart and the Tail).

The foreshots are cloudy and undesirable as it contains a lot of alcohol and lighter flavors. At approximately 75% abv, the distillate becomes clean and clear and smells sweet. This is the start of the “heart” or new make. The stillmen collect the distillate from this moment as the new make. Heavier flavours appear at approximately 65% and the stillmen direct the distillate to feints. The foreshots and feints are then channelled into the still again as there is still a significant amount of alcohol in them. The figures of 75-65% are approximate because temperature affects the reading. Stillmen usually use charts to ensure that the Glengoyne new make spirit is sweet and clean.

The Slowest Distillation

Glengoyne also has the slowest distillation from the Spirit Still at a volumetric flow rate of 5L/min. This slow distillation allows the liquid to have prolonged contact with the copper stills. This copper contact takes away sulfur compounds, which is another reason why the Glengoyne spirit character is so unique, and clean.

The New Make

Casks on display at Glengoyne (Photo by Hongfu Teo)

The new make is usually around 71% abv, and Glengoyne watered it down to 63.5% before filling it into a cask. Glengoyne has a 3-fill cask policy so after the third use; they stop using the cask. This policy ensures that every cask provides adequate maturation to the new make. The distillery shipped Oloroso sherry casks whole from Spain and seasoned them for at least two years. The process also strips the rougher tannins off the wood, giving the casks more Oloroso character! The casks give Glengoyne whiskies notes of raisins, dried fruit, nuttiness, chocolate, cinnamon and Christmas Cake! The sherry casks also provide all of Glengoyne single malt’s colour; the distillery does not use E150a caramel colouring!

An Extremely Educational and Enjoyable Journey

It was a lovely trip to the Glengoyne distillery and a one which I learnt a lot from. Thank you, Jonathan Scott, for the insightful tour! I am sure that I will be back again in future!

All this talk of Glengoyne is making me thirsty. Now, excuse me as I pour myself a dram of my favourite Glengoyne Core Range Bottling; the 21yo aged in 1stfill Oloroso cask… for 21 years!

Slainté!

 

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Whisky Review #11 – The Dalmore King Alexander III

We have briefly introduced the history of The Dalmore in a separate post and King Alexander III was very much linked to the origins of the distillery. Considered the crown jewel of The Dalmore principal collection, this special creation by Master distiller Richard Patterson is the only single malt in this world that combines the greatness of six different casks. Yes, that’s right.. SIX! Other than the brand signature American white oak and Matusalem oloroso sherry casks, he added in spirits from Madeira, Marsala, Port pipes, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The result? A complex, yet smooth single malt – a true showcase of the Master distiller’s lifetime experience and creativity.

Awards:

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2017
Silver – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

World Whiskies Awards 2014
Silver  – Highland Single Malt No Age Statement

International Spirits Challenge 2014
Silver – Distillers’ Single Malts 12 years and under

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014
Silver Outstanding – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013
Silver – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

Tasting Notes:

ABV: 40%

Colour: Deep Mahogany

Nose: Signature of Dalmore, the malty sweetness can immediately be captured. This is immediately followed by subtle aroma of fresh flowers with notes of berries. A slight spiciness ends it all. (15 points)

Palate: A complex palate of sherry and berries first captures the taste buds. Subtle tastes of chocolate and zesty orange follows, with a bit of spice. (15 points)

Body:  A well-balanced whisky. It is worth noting that the spiciness comes after the fruity flavours and it’s not over powering, similar to the 18 year old edition. (33 points)

Finish: The sweet fruity finish lingers in the mouth, with hints of chocolatey taste, and spice. (18 points)

Total grade: 81 points

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Whisky Review #10 – The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

The Dalmore Cigar Malt was created by Richard Patterson due to his love for whisky and cigar. A third cask was added into their usual two in the maturation process – the premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques. This innovative combination of spirits from three different casks produces a fine whisky with rich flavours and is perfect for pairing with cigars.

There was actually an older edition that was discontinued in mid-2009 and it caused a huge uproar among the cigar-smoking fans. This ‘new’ edition is slightly different from the discontinued one as it is now made up of slightly older whiskies.

If you are a cigar lover, you might be awed when you find out the flavour benchmark for pairing this whisky – Partagas Serie D No. 4!

Awards:

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2017
Silver – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014
Silver – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

International Spirits Challenge 2014
Silver  – Distillers’ Single Malts 12 years and under

Tasting Notes:

ABV: 44%

Colour: Golden Amber

Nose: The distinctly sweet toffee aroma catches our attention immediately. Shortly after comes the smell of charred oak, ending it all with a slight spice. (14 points)

Palate: The sweetness of toffee fills up the palate, followed closely by burnt caramel. Strong nutmeg spice envelops the mouth as the whisky stays longer. (14 points)

Body: Good balance between the nose and the palate, making it a well-rounded whisky. The sharpness of the spice is cushioned comfortably by the sweetness of toffee and perfect integration of sherry and wine casks.  (34 points)

Finish: The finish is medium, with a lingering sherry oak sweetness. (15 points)

Total grade:  77 points

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Whisky Review #09 – The Dalmore 18 Years Old Whisky

This is an upgraded version of The Dalmore 12. This award winning 18 years old edition is matured 14 years in American white oak ex-burbon casks, and the last 4 years in 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks. The extended maturation and wood exposure creates a more well-rounded finish with a lusciously creamy and sherried body.

Awards:

International Wine & Spirit 2017
Silver Outstanding – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

International Spirits Challenge 2014
Silver – Distillers’ Single Malts between 13 and 20 years old

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014
Bronze – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013
Bronze – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

Tasting Notes:

ABV: 43%

Colour: Copper Bronze

Nose: A distinct smell of pine gushes out followed by a strong fruity sweetness, ended by a slight pleasant spiciness. (13 points)

Palate: Sweetness of chocolate raisins immediately engulfs the palate with slight hints of plums. As the whisky stays in the mouth longer, notes of coffee and vanilla appears and ends with peppery spiciness (17 points)

Body:  A well-balanced whisky. It is worth noting that the spiciness comes after the fruity flavours and it’s not over powering. (33 points)

Finish: Long fruity finish with slight taste of citrus. (18 points)

Total grade: 81 points

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]

Whisky Review #08 – The Dalmore 12 Years Old Whisky

This is the entry level of The Dalmore series. Aged 12 years old, this whisky from the Highlands spent its first 9 years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. Half of the spirit is then transferred into 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks for the final 3 years. These spirits are then married together for bottling. What results is a rich and beautiful single malt because of the added maturation in sherry cask – a bold process in making a 12 years single malt.

Awards:
International Wine & Spirit Competition 2017

Silver – Scotch Single Malt – Highland

Tasting Notes:

ABV: 40%

Colour: Golden Amber. Unlike other 12 year old whiskies, The Dalmore 12 years has a darker hue, due to the 3 year maturation in sherry casks.

Nose: The sweetness of caramel fudge floats to our nose the moment the bottle is opened. Strong vanilla with a hint of citrus follows after. (15 points)

Palate: Hint of spice hits the tongue before the sherry sweetness takes over. Thick and velvety smooth feel with delicate citrus notes. (15 points)

Body: A well balanced whisky that is velvety smooth. Easy to drink, suitable for after dinner. (32 points)

Finish: A medium-long finish that is slightly dry; sweet with toffee notes and a hint of vanilla. (18 points)

Total grade: 80 points

Like what you have just read?

Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!





[recaptcha]