Wednesday 11 December 2013

Tasted #55 & #56: Old Pulteney 12yo and 17yo (#101drams)

Old Pulteney is a whisky that features a whopping 3 times on my #101drams Charitable Challenge, with the 17, 21 and 40 all listed. When I created the list I hadn't tried any Old Pulteneys - though it always had the image (in my mind) of a quality dram, slightly unusual and unique in location. Not dissimilar to Talisker I guess, though less prevalent.

When one of the guys from Inver House Distillers (who also do Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn and Balmenach) kindly got in touch, I asked if there was any chance of a sample or two. To say I was (pleasantly) surprised when, a week or so later, I received two full-size bottles in the post, would be an understatement! Here were two stunning bottles (the 12yo and 17yo) sent via Old Pulteney's Australian distributor, for me to try. Not a bad start to the week!

I always knew Old Pulteney had a history steeped in maritime tradition (being located on the East coast of Scotland), but didn't know it was also the most Northern distillery on the Scottish mainland (turns out I wasn't that far away from Wick when visiting Scotland in 2009). I also recently discovered that Old Pulteney actually put their maritime tradition into practice, by sponsoring a superyacht in the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race, which started in September this year in London.

The yacht must be moving at a pretty fast clip (ha) because this week they're already due to arrive in Australia (barely-related side note: I know a bloke who once sailed from London to Sydney with just his wife...but it took them 18 months. Perhaps if they were fuelled by Old Pulteney they'd have made it a bit quicker...)

So, now that you know Old Pulteney, what's it like as a whisky? Pretty fantastic, it turns out, and as unique as I'd expected/hoped for!

Not living near the ocean, I decided this was about the most
"maritime" setting I could create at home...

Old Pulteney 12 (40% ABV, 12yo, Wick Scotland, $75AUD)
Nose: Rich, sweet, honied notes with a bit of grass, lots of vanilla and a slight nuttiness
Palate: Lighter than the nose suggests, with the honey and vanilla characteristics coming through most prominently (as you'd expect from the ex-Bourbon barrels). A faint hint of sea air too.
Finish: Medium length, mostly honied and with some brief nuttiness at the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. A great "entry level" dram and a unique one at that. Usually when you get hints of sea air, you can expect a bit of smokiness too, but I didn't get any on this, just a host of other flavours. Very enjoyable.

Old Pulteney 17 (46% ABV, 17yo, Wick Scotland, $150AUD)
Nose: Same characteristics as the 12, but..lighter? Interestingly the colour was noticeably lighter too (though that's probably got something to do with the 12 having caramel colouring added). The lighter nose did strike me as being odd, given the higher ABV. A drop of water helps open it up.
Palate: Richer than the 12 - more like what I expected from a 46% whisky. More salty than the 12 (stands to reason - 5 years longer living near the sea) with some butter menthol and floral notes too. More earthy than the 12.
Finish: Medium to long, more butterscotch than anything (not a bad thing!)
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. Enjoyable like the 12, but just a bit "more" of everything, with some new flavours thrown in for good measure. I'll definitely enjoy this!


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