It is no secret that I am loving the whisky coming out of the Paul John distillery, located in Goa and owned by JDL ( John Distillieries Ltd) The area is well known for the rich colonial heritage, beautiful beaches and the welcoming atmosphere of the locals but the whisky is certainly starting to be noticed so when I had the opportunity to get someone involved in this series who better to start with than the master distiller himself Michael D Souza… From the superb “breakfast dram” Brilliance, the lightly peated “Edited” and the more heavily peated “Bold” there is something for everyone, you can then venture into the excellent select casks “Classic” and “Peated” which are cask strength and both carry lovely balance and complex flavours… Then you have the delightful series of single casks, all of which Michael has a hand in creating and selecting..
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background..
I’m Michael D’souza and I’m a whisky maker for John Distilleries. Whisky has been my greatest passion for almost 25 years. I started working at the age of 21 years, and in 2009 I became a whisky maker.
Why did you decide on a career in the world of whisky..
I have always been fascinated with alcohol, especially whisky. Soon after I completed my studies I decided to pursue a career in the alcohol industry. And I’ve enjoyed the ride all along!
Can you tell us a little about your day to day job and what is involved..
I start my day relatively early, and ideally I prefer to begin the day sampling and tasting batches of whiskies or barrels. I then pick the samples ready for vatting for the next batches of different expressions. The second half of my day is mostly spent in the distillery and cellars.
Could you tell us something about producing whisky in India..
Well, India is one of world’s largest producers and manufacturers of whiskies, however in India, IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor), is what’s mainly produced and from either Molasses or Grain, and blended with Malts.
But there are a few single malt distilleries in india, and most of those producers use Indian ingredients such as 6 row Indian barley and other such grains. Due to the country’s conducive environment, whiskies are found to mature differently in India. The hot and humid climate allows whiskies to extract higher amount of barrel compounds thus making Indian whisky more characterful.
What is it that you enjoy the most about the industry..
I travel a lot and thus I get the opportunity to meet and know a lot of people from the industry. I like the fact that every region and distillery produce different whiskies.
What has surprised you most about your job..
I guess I never expected whiskies to turn out to be this good in Goan environment!
Is there any achievement that you are most proud of in your whisky career ?
I feel extremely satisfied and gratified when our whiskies are appreciated. I think winning the recent Icons of Whiskies 2017 Master distiller/Blender was my one of my memorable achievements.
How has the industry changed since you have been involved?
There is a huge change, especially in the way producers are concentrating on using the best of technology to achieve better yield and higher, exceptional quality.
Have you got a favourite whisky?
I never compare whiskies, for me each and every whisky is different. I have a few reservations and prefer to avoid whiskies matured in wine or sherry casks due to sulphur. I enjoy unpeated whiskies over peated ones, and Old Pultney is one of my favourite distilleries.
I would like to thank Michael for agreeing to take part in this series of features.. The whisky they are producing is speaking for itself and I feel rather privileged to have Michael on board..