Hello and welcome to whisky.com, Where Fine Spirits Meet. And today, I'm on top of the Paul John Distillery, and below me is the distill house, and behind me, you can see one of the warehouses, it's already a bit black, and in the very far background, you see the hills. And these hills are important for the John Distillery, because up in the hills it's raining, and the water comes down into this valley, and this water here has a really good quality.
The most reason for setting up a distillery, the most important things you have to look at is the quality of the water. And the John Distillery here has an own well, and this well has a really good water quality. They did analysis about the water, and most of the people had to move here to get the knowledge. And yeah, we will see today what the John Distillery is all about and how they make their Whisky.
So behind me is the malt silo of the John Distillery. And here you see the huge stacks of malt. The malt comes from the northern regions of India, near the Himalaya, the regions are called Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. And then, the people fill it into these holes, and it goes up through the elevator, to the sieving, and the malt mill.
First, the malt goes up, and on the top floor, we have a magnetic system that removes all the metal parts. After that, the malt comes in here, and it is being sieved to take out all the stones. Stones would be very dangerous to have it in the malt mill, because it could damage the malt mill.
And there's another thing that the John Distillery is proud of is that they remove the husks from the malt before they mill the malt, and this is done by a cyclone separator. This is basically a big vacuum cleaner, so this sucks up all the loose bits from the malt, and these loose bits, which increase the amount of husk later in the grist, that would give the Whisky a flavor that is not favorable of the John Distillery. So they suck out the husks, and blow them out, and collect them outside.
The next step is the malt mill. Behind me is the malt mill, and the John Distillery has a two rolling pins malt mill, and here, the malt is crushed down to a coarse grist. And this little lever here gives you a sample of the quality control. So, there you go. They have your husks, your flour, and your grist.
This here is the mash tun. In working conditions, it contains two tons of malted barley. And then during the washing, they take out 12,000 of liter of that sweet juice they use for the fermentation. It's a very modern mash tun made completely of stainless steel. And if you look inside the mash tun, you see that it's very clean. They really look at the cleanliness because they're a bit afraid of vinegar bacteria, so they keep it clean. And also, they do three washings. They don't do a fourth washing, where they recycle the wash in the first run of the next batch, because they don't want to have cross contamination, so what they are looking for is they try to wash the sugars and starches out, and get it to the fermentation as soon as possible. So only the yeast is producing the flavors that John Distillery wants to have.
Behind me is the wash still fully made of copper. It has a capacity of 15,000 liters, and it's filled up to 12,000 liters with one fermentation tank. And when you look at it, you see it has a reflux still that increases the surface area of the copper, and the copper uses its catalytic reactions to make the Whisky better. And there's another thing, the line arm here is rising, the line arm is the very thing that's up to the top, that goes through the condenser, and everything that condenses in the line arm goes back into the pot, touches the copper again, and then makes the Spirit even better. So very unique thing about the John Distillery is that after the condenser you have a second cooling machine, and that cools it down to 25 degrees centigrade. And we end up with a product of 15% alcohol at 20 degrees centigrade, and that goes off into the spirit still.
Behind me is the spirit still. The spirit still has a capacity of 9,000 liters. It's filled with 5,000 liters, most of it coming from the wash still as the Low Wines and some of it are the recycled things, and the heads and tails from the last batch. So the spirit still doesn't have a reflux still, and it is a bit smaller. So the character given from the spirit still goes a more bit into the spicy direction. So it's not a very flat Whisky, but a Whisky with character, which has a bit more spiciness in it. So with all the steps, we have a well-balanced Whisky. It goes up, the line arm is rising again, we have the condenser, and then the second cooling system. And that gives you a good, new mix spirit of 63.5% that then goes into the barrel.
This here is now important, this is the workplace of the distillery and the master distiller. You can see here the different funnels where all the spirits are put in. You can see here a lever, where you turn the heads into the heart piece, and the heart piece into the tails. And what is interesting is you don't see any measuring equipment, like you don't measure the temperature, you don't measure the alcoholic strength. That's because the John Distillery does it with the sensory tastes, with the sensory. So they smell and they taste the heart and what they're currently producing. And when they say, "Yeah, this is right," then they change over to the heart piece, and this is done every single time. So this is really the handcraft, but also the John Distillery has to have a lot of experience, and the distillery does not work without the experience.
I'm standing in one of the warehouses of the John Distillery. The John Distillery has this cellar here, which is beautiful and the smell is just incredible. It just smells of old wood, of that alcoholic Whisky smell. And the John Distillery has 100% expert barrels up to now. And if I look at this barrel, you can always identify an American barrels with the rivets. It says MO, and that means this cask was made in Missouri with American white oak. And it's an American standard barrel, 52 gallons, that's 200 liters plus/minus 1. And the John Distillery then marks every barrel. And this here says "P1" so they filled it the first time. Then we have the cask number, and this here is the date when it has been filled. It's 12, it's December of 2013.
So this casks lose more Angels' Share than we are used through off of Scotland, because the climate is much warmer, and there is more evaporation going on. So you can maybe compare the climate more of a Kentucky summer, but they don't have winter. People here say they have three seasons, hot, hot, and hotter, so it's very hot. But also, it is very humid. While in other regions, when you have a hot climate, you lose the liquid inside the cask, and in some regions, the cask alcoholic strength rises. Here, you have a lot of water saturation in the air, so it's a humid climate. That means the water cannot evaporate as easily as the alcohol. So here at the John Distillery, they also lose the alcoholic strength half the time. So for the Angels' Share, the first year is always a bit more. So the Whisky gets soaked into the staves. But every year, they lose about 8% of the precious Whisky. But the maturation is one of the parts that makes the Whisky so great here.
Also interesting about the John Distillery is how they fill their barrels. Usually, the distilleries have the process of rolling the barrels around, filling them up, and then rolling them to the warehouses, or using forklifts, or any heavy kind of machinery. The John Distillery is a bit different, they have found a better method. They rack their barrels and they have the tanks for their spirit, the spirit tank. And then they go around with a pump, and pump the spirit into the barrels. So what is then also very important is that you have a pitted tank and a non-pitted tank, so there is no cross contamination, and you can produce very pitted edition like the bold, or you can also produce unpitted editions without cross contaminating each of the Whiskies. And if you look in the background, you can already see a big Sherry cask, and the John Distillery is currently experimenting with the Sherry casks so they can, in the future, maybe bring out a good Sherry cask edition.
With Michael John, you've been with the Distillery for 24 years now, and you're the master distiller, so a lot of knowledge there. Thank you for having us.