Thursday, January 17, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #229

Old Pulteney 17 yo
Highland Single Malt Whisky

46% abv


Sorry about the late post. When you see my tasting notes below you will understand why.

In December, Inver House Distillers, owners of "the genuine maritime malt", launched a new website for Old Pulteney and it looks good, has some classy clips, and is easy to navigate. Inver House was awarded Scottish Distiller of the Year in Whisky Magazine's ICONS OF WHISKY 2008. This prize was awarded mainly because of Inver House's relaunching of Balblair as vintages in new packaging, but they have also done a lot for Pulteney.

Canadian company Hiram Walker and Sons, owners of Pulteney from 1955-1961 gave the distillery a makeover in the late 1950s when, in the words of Gavin D. Smith, "many distillers seem to have suffered from an aesthetics bypass."
Since acquiring the distillery from Allied in 1995, Inver House has relaunched the brand with new packaging and contents. we have seen Old Pulteney leave the lonely dusty corners of specialty shops and show up on supermarket shelves with increasing sales by huge percentages year upon year. In this household, when the Old Pulteney 12yo is emptied (too often, perhaps) it is always replaced immediately. Delicious, widely available, and priced right. Let's try the 17 year old.

For more distillery information see all Pulteney posts on the mission by clicking HERE.

Last Spring I was invited along to a product launch in NYC for Old Pulteney (17 and 21) in the USA. I could not attend so my friend JW attended in my stead. Some of his notes appear in quotes below.


Big nose with overall sweetness dominated by fruit... but also kind of fleshy, even sweaty. Tropical with coconut shells and mango and there is an oakiness that is almost dusty, like a carpentry workshop. Some putty, like finger paints and a candied sweetness with creamy, bourbon cask-influenced elegance.

Salt tang begins the flavours in the mouth, then that sweatiness noticed in the nose, becoming fruity and sweet like baked apples and pastry, ending with a honeyed glaze. Kind of charred into the baking tray. The late finish(is there such a thing?) remains fruity and sweet but becomes more and more fleshy, like a sunbather sweating out his/her scented sun cream.


It must be said that this dram demanded two tastings as I have had it before and felt quite differently than I did this morning. In the past, when I have had this in the evening I found a slightly sour, rotting aroma and an aggressive, discordant bite in the mouth. Further, the finish had soil, preserved veg/gherkins, and a metallic tinge.
So, we have a fruity, honeyed malt with a salt and perfume tang on one hand AND a rotten, bitter tahini and oak fest on the other. BAH! I am torn. Help me, Jason.

Jason said, compared to the 12yo "the 17yo turned things up a bit. Richer, about 10% from sherry casks. I felt it was much like the 12yo but just more intense. There are more complexities I can't really recall now, but definitely a well constructed whisky."

Thank you. But I am not convinced. Third opinion... NURSE!

Had to do a revisit at night, which I haven't done for some time, and Kristin joined me.

We decided "it's alright but its for a very specific evening... that might not happen very often. Very grassy, very earthy. Over-ripe. The 12 is 'wwoooo'. Easy. Pleasant. 17, mmmnnh. Eah. THIS is out there. And out there might be good some nights."

Whoa, dude. I swear she doesn't always talk like that. Shes been on the Pulteney.

Yet more justification for why evaluating and grading is pants. Even with over ten years (between us) of whisky tasting, PLEASE don't take anything we say as BIBLE. It is just FUN. Mere over-educated observations from a small corner of the globe. Goodnight.

Malt Mission #226
Malt Mission #227
Malt Mission #228
Malt Mission #230

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1 comment:

Bowbutcher said...

Dr. Whisky

I apologise for having taken so long to find you site. I will beat myself sternly later.
I cannot help but notice that the emporium where I earn my crust, is not on your list of suitable establishments for the purchase of our most loved tipple. Being the home of Cutty Sark and The Glenrothes, this does suprise me somewhat. Not to mention the gongs we seem to keep winning courtesy of those very nice folk in Norwich.

So that we can remedy any unwitting shortcomings, my I profer an invitation to yourself, and any of your patients, to come down to St. James's Street and try any of the bottles (40ish) that I have open around me.

Ed. Bates, Berry Bros. & Rudd.