Angels whisky club INTERVIEW Michael John D'Souza, interviewed by Paul McLean, Angels Whisky Club.

Paul John Single Malt whisky
 

Hi Michael, it was great to meet recently in Edinburgh, it prompted me to ask you more questions!

 

Q: Michael, how long have you been with the company and can I ask a brief career history!    A: I Started my career in John Distilleries in 1993, since than I have been with John Distilleries, the company owns bottling and distillation facilities across India in various states, in 2003 I had the opportunity to work and head company owned column distillation plant having capacity of more than 60,000 litres per day using molasses, in 2007 I was given the responsibility to set up single malt distillation plant, since than I am working as Master Distiller.

Q: can you tell us a wee bit about the distillery, stills, warehousing, casks etc.   A: The entire plant is done by a UK based company, the Distillery has 1 set of copper pot stills (wash & Spirit) that could produce 3000 litres every day, maturation is done in a climate controlled underground cellar that has got 10000 Bourbon barrels.

Q: The company’s flagship brand, "Original Choice" is well established in the Indian liquor industry. I did not try this, but can you describe it?   A: its common mans single malt, made out of Grain & molasses based alcohol, blended with malt, current sales is approx 1 million cases every month.
 

Q: You have also recently introduced Grand Duke Whisky – what is it like and how is it different from others?  A: Grand Duke is a couple of steps above Original Choice, different profile and character, again well accepted by the consumers.

Q: The Paul John statement single cask select is a fine debut release, (created by Michael John as Master Distiller). Indian malted barley double distilled in traditional copper pot stills, aged in bourbon casks freshly emptied in Kentucky. This non-peated whisky received the coveted Liquid Gold endorsement of Jim Murray at 94.5 points, this is your creation, tell me how this became your whisky?  A: Are you referring to Cask No 161? Well! To say in In simple word.... it’s was my first baby, later 2 other casks were released, Cask 163 has got 95 & 164 got 96 points, it was a tough challenge for me to procure best Indian malted barley, brew & ferment at right temperature and yeast, distil at right pressure and draw high quality Heart (middle cut) mature in good casks, everything with Indian ingredients.

Q; any more whiskies coming soon?  A: yes! Hopefully another 3 expressions, I want you to keep your fingers crossed,

Q; and how is this different from other Indian whisky?  A: each and every whisky that is being distilled across Scotland is different, so obviously our profile is quite different from others, eg: Amrut and ourself’s are buying malt from the same supplier, most importantly we wanted to make Indian whisky that is unique in character.

Q; Have you /planning to, take any whisky risks? Any new ideas, innovations, a new concept, or just stun the whisky world?  A: we are on a learning curve, yes I am trying out some alternative woods but it’s too early to comment on that,

Q; how many bottles you have on sale annually? And if I may ask, how many do you keep personally?  A: unfortunately I could not retain a single bottle for myself, too early to predict the annual sale this early, but the response is amazing.

Q; do you have any signed bottles or special numbered bottles for collectors?  A: no, will take few more years for me to do so.

Q; Do you have any thoughts about finishing? Port, Sherry etc.  A: as I mentioned, I am trying out.

Q; what are your views on; adding water to a dram, ice, coke etc? is this common in India?  A: personally I prefer as it is. but India is a hot country and people prefer tall drinks with some cold additives, Indians got sweet tooth too...

Q; if water is acceptable, is this bottled water, tap water?  A: I agree that the quality of the water is most important in whisky making, but even the purest spring water has to go through filtration process to remove hardness and minerals, in my opinion good ground water is sufficient, and we get high quality water from the well that is situated beside river ‘’SAL’’

Q: you have launched the brand in the UK, how do you see this going? And where can our worldwide members purchase them?  A: Great! Currently people can buy through ‘’Whisky Exchange” online, in a couple of days time it would be available in all major retails in UK.

Warmest regards, Michael.  MANY THANKS MICHAEL, SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.  PAUL