Monday, January 25, 2021

Paul John Part 2, Saint Cloud

Continued from: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201126-001036 via another tasting with a different lineup of samples.

Paul John Peated Select Cask
A peated version of the Classic bottling, bottled at similar 55.5% abv to the unpeated version. Relatively heavily peated on the nose and with malt sweetness and distinct nuttyness. Surprisingly sweet and smoky on the palate with typical slightly metallic aftertaste that is shared across all Paul John bottlings so far. An interesting contrast with a Islay Single Malt here as Islay tends towards savory and this is an interesting mix of sweetness and smoke. The aftertaste is peaty and nutty/sweet. With the disclaimer of ‘me not liking peated/smoked whiskey’ this is almost enjoyable. I do like smoky sherry profile, but this isn’t sherried. It is aged in ex-bourbon yet somehow concentrated out enough sweetness to be highly… drinkable? Am I praising peated whiskey? Unbelievable!
Score: B+ (must like sweet+smoke)

Paul John Classic Select Cask 55.2% Unpeated
An ex-bourbon bottling, the nose is malty and sweet with classically ex-bourbon spices. The texture is typical with Paul John fairly thick and palate is honey-driven with tropical fruits. White pepper-themed spices arrive to the party in the back and in the aftertaste that lasts a decent amount. The aftertaste eventually leaves behind appetizing honey-themed flavors. It happens that I like raw honey so this does appeal to me on many levels. Delicious and very good, but with Glen Grant 15 (https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201114-150301) or, perhaps, MacDuff (https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201226-170937) being slightly cheaper and offering a similar type of profile this really doesn’t stand out far from its competition. Very faint metallic note in the very back as per norm with Paul John, but works okay with overall honey notes. Ironically for me, while being a good take on a familiar ex-bourbon bottling this is less interesting than the Peated expression as it offers nothing novel aside from being from India. Would I drink it? Absolutely, and may pick up a bottle in say… 3 years once I work though all my other ex-bourbon bottles.
If you are looking for a slightly sweeter than usual take on a good scotch, by all means, pick this up! Is it mind-blowing? No! Is it solid performer? Absolutely!
Side note: While it would be highly-but-not-the-best rated in the similar category when compared to Scotch products, it is stunningly above and beyond for overall quality of Indian whiskey. So, this is a significant accomplishment for India’s budding whiskey industry.
Score: B

Paul John Oloroso Select 48%
Ah, Oloroso, the woody type of sherry when compared to more dark fruit in PX. The nose, sweet sherry, some wood and slightly metallic notes. The palate is very nutty, malty, decently balanced between sweet and slightly tannic nature of the cask. The usual slightly metallic notes, which aren’t masked by sherry profile. Tasty sweet aftertaste that is surprisingly short leans towards baking spices. Putting it simply, this is a good oloroso aged whiskey with the biggest problem (and honestly the biggest problem with ALL Paul John’s line) is that there’s not much there past the initial taste profile. The super complex flavors that develop in whisky if left to its own for many years don’t just magically develop overnight no matter how hot the climate is. Would it concentrate deliciously? Yes. Is it tasty? Yes! Do I like sherried whiskey? Yes, yes I do! Would I be fine shipwrecked on an island with a large supply of this? No.
Score: B

Paul John PX Select 48%
The sister bottling to the Oloroso sherry above, this is PX, known for its dark fruit notes. The nose is malty, deep and brooding. Palate is very much honey drizzled dark fruits in a steel bowl (Oh Paul John, so metallic). This one… This one I like. Thick dried figs, raisins with honey syrup on top are in play here. The aftertaste is as expected from a PX lasts for while but is still slightly shorter than I was hoping for based on the luxurious nose and almost sticky palate. Perhaps a tiny bit too sweet without having something to offset itself this meanders into almost into the territory of fortified sherry. A fantastic dessert pour that leaves little to complain about but it leaves me with little to contemplate on after the primary flavors are gone. Yet again this seems to be the norm with most Paul John bottles and with tropically aged whiskeys in general.
Score: B+

Let us segway for a moment onto a fascinating story of Saint Cloud, a bourbon done by a Ray Walker that did some questionable things… https://www.burgundy … fall-of-maison-ilan/ and have already ran into trouble with TTB on its first bottling https://tater-talk.c … -off-the-hype-train/… Yet doesn’t seem to be apologetic about any of it and keeps on putting up new bottles while keeping supplies artificially low and prices high due to hype, marketing and lack of availability. I happened to luck into a gifted Single Cask bottle… so let’s have a review…

Saint Cloud Mercury Single Barrel
Mine is a bottling of 7/20 with it being bottle number 70 of 248 at 119.3 proof. This is a straight Kentucky bourbon, but no source of distillation is provided. Lets get it out of the way first. The packaging is pretty. Nice bottle, a figurine of Mercury in faux-copper on the topper. Minimal labeling… which is not intended for retail, lacking both government warning and a UPC codes. I suspect it may come in a box that would have required text on it, but no box was provided. The info given is actually rather bad too as there’s no information provided on the age of this single cask, opting for a vague [sic] “Copper pot distilled. Blended from corn, rye & malted barley. Aged in a charred white oak barrel for at least 2 and a half years” on the label. Same labeling also claims that it was “Crafted by Ray Walker” and “Bottled by Saint Cloud Spirit Company, Frankfurt, Kentucky”. Combining all that verbiage with the fact that this is single cask, I’m fairly sure this is some sort of TTB violation, but I’m not an expert to call it out. No price of the original has been given, but judging by other products by the same company, I’d expect this to go for $150+ MSRP, because shady marketing reasons.
Nose: pleasant corn, wood and spiced sugar caramel mix. The overall impression I’m getting is sweet, caramelized corn from the nose, perhaps carnival popcorn. There are no off-putting or sour notes in there. When I tried it for the first time, few months ago… The first thing that came to mind was corn caramel, but something have changed over time in the bottle and now, 5 months later or so… This is woody, with almost too much wood but is balanced by the sweetness. Slightly bitter-spiced it coalesced into something that’s almost great. The aftertaste is long, woody, sweet, spicy and pleasant. As much as I want to dislike this… it’s really good after being open for about 6 months or so. Something wonderfully unique and yet definitely not something I’d have spent my own money on to buy. This somewhat reminds me of a sweeter, more interesting Woodford Reserve or Old Forester 1920 on the taste profile. Extreme single cask and price/value/availability disclaimers apply. I’d expect this is nigh impossible to find in either retail or bar situation to actually purchase, but if you see a friend having a bottle, beg them to have a taste.
Score: A- (D for artificial scarcity and lack of transparency)

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown