Paul chats to Michael John D’souza, Master Distiller/Blender

John Distilleries Pvt Ltd, Goa-INDIA.

Michael, many thanks for the “blether”.  We have known each other a good few years now and time for an online chat I thought, well overdue. https://whiskytours.scot/interview-michael-john-dsouza  You started in John Distilleries in 1993, in 2007 you were appointed to set up single malt distillation plant, you are now Master Distiller. The Paul John statement single cask select was created by you as Master Distiller (Cask No 161)  ….  it was your first baby, later 2 other casks were released, Cask 163 & 164. Q; How have things progressed from there?  What is your new baby? MICHAEL; Well, we launched our first expressions in 2012 and  we released our five core expressions i.e Brilliance, Edited, Bold and the Select Casks – Classic and Peated.  In recent years we have been focusing more on improving the production efficiency and quality of our whisky. But a few trials with different casks are on, and last year we had released the Oloroso cask finish whisky, which was very well received. This year we are planning to release a PX finish whisky. And we will also release our first commemorative edition called Mars Orbiter in August 2018.

Q; The Barley you use is 6 row barley from the foothills of the Himalayas. Why this strain? Are there any plans to change or experiment?  MICHAEL  In India, we grow both 6 row and 2 Row barley. However the quality of the 6 row is higher when compared to the 2 row, hence we prefer the 6 row, moreover most of the farmers in India grow 6 row. At present we do not have any plans to change or experiment.

Q; The climate helps the whisky mature faster but what do you lose to the Angels in Goa? MICHAEL  Due to higher temperature and humidity whisky matures differently in Goa. We lose 8% as angel share.

Q; Paul John’s portfolio includes peated whiskies.  Where does your peat originate from? Who first introduced peat to your whisky?  MICHAEL  Peat is not available in India hence we import our peat from Scotland. The decision to introduce peat to our whisky was taken by Mr.Paul John.

Q; What makes your drams so different from other Indian single malts?  MICHAEL  In my opinion every whisky is different as it is produced and matured in different regions. Most of the whisky’s flavour comes from the casks and surroundings. Also we believe in quality rather than quantity, and we make sure that the entire whisky making process is meticulously followed. All this contributes to the quality and taste of our whisky.

Q; What do you think the most common Indian whisky misconception is? MICHAEL  I believe that the most common misconception that people have is they believe all the whisky that is made in India is made of molasses and is not matured in wooden casks.

Q; If you could change just one thing about the whisky industry, what would it be?  MICHAEL  As of now, there are no strict regulations with respect to the ingredients and the manufacturing methods of alcohol beverages in India. It would be great if regulations are set so that the consumer gets the right product.

Q; Last time we chatted you mentioned new ideas/developments to the core range, can you enlarge on this?  MICHAEL  We haven’t made any changes to our core expressions. As mentioned above, we recently released the special edition – OLOROSO and will soon launch MARS ORBITER.  

Q; Does winning a gold medal really help sales of a whisky?  MICHAEL  Yes, awards definitely go a long way to boost sale in many markets for they create brand awareness and build credibility for the whisky.

MANY THANKS MICHAEL,  SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.  PAUL

Paul’s note;  I did some research on barley (many thanks to our friend Vic Cameron),

I am looking forward to the release of a PX finish whisky. And the first commemorative edition called Mars Orbiter in August.  Hopefully in a whisky store near you! Or, go and check out      www.pauljohnwhisky.com