This is the third in my recent consortial purchase of Scott’s Selection bottles, and at 27-28 years old is, by far, the oldest Pulteney I’ve ever had. I’m excited. These notes will also be published simultaneously with Michael Kravitz’s at Diving for Pearls. I’m curious to see how much variance or intersection there will be in our notes. [And here is the link to Michael’s review.]
Pulteney 1977-2005 (56.9%; Scott’s Selection; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Pine and rye and some other sweet herbal, rooty notes. Some wood below that and also the brine I associate with the distillery. The wood gets stronger with time, but not offensively so. A few minutes later though the wood recedes and the herbal/rooty notes are gone; in their place is a very rich fruitiness: plums, hints of lime, brandied raisins. Wholly unexpected but very nice. The wood comes back but it’s toasted now and smeared with honey; some vanilla accompanies it. With a few drops of water the toasted wood and vanilla expand, and there might be some butterscotch too now; after a minute the lime and honey get much more pronounced as well.
Palate: Hot. The wood and the fruit do battle and at first, at least, the wood seems to win; not decisively though. Some pepper as well. On the second sip there’s a distinct tropical accent to the fruit. On the third sip the fruit has outflanked the wood. This needs water though and hopefully it will bring those tropical notes out more strongly. Hmmm water certainly accentuates the lime but the tropical notes don’t expand very much. More vanilla sweetness though, and still some woody bite that gets stronger again.
Finish: Medium. Somewhat indistinct at first but then some of the fruit hangs around. Some vanilla here too now. More citrus with water but not a whole lot of change.
Comments: After an unpromising start the nose really blossomed. The palate didn’t quite match it, I’m afraid, even though it offered some teasing hints that it could. Just a bit too much wood on the palate. Very pleasant though, on the whole, and it’s possible that with more time and the right amount of water that tropical fruit could be coaxed out. If so, this would get a higher score. At any rate, I am now intrigued by the thought of older Pulteneys. Too bad there are so few of them out there and that the official ones cost so much.
Rating: 85 points.
The review, comments and rating above were recorded right after the bottle was opened and divvied up. I decided to revisit it quickly more than two weeks later on the eve of my simultaneous review with Michael and note changes if any. Here goes:
Nose: Not much of the piney/herbal/woody notes that I got on the first occasion–it moves much quicker to the honeyed fruit and is then consistent with the earlier review (except far less brine, if any).
Palate: Less wood on the palate this time and it’s also not quite as hot two weeks later. Other than that this is pretty consistent with the first go around as well.
Finish: More or less identical to the first time.
Comments: This is a 6 oz sample that went into a 6 oz jar, so it’s not like it’s been exposed to a lot of air in the last two weeks, but perhaps the process of pouring into four jars (this was shared with two other friends and mine was the last jar filled) had some effect? Certainly, some of the rougher edges I got the first time have softened. Alas, the tropical fruit hints I got on the first go-around haven’t expanded so much as receded since then. On the whole, I’d give it a slightly higher score tonight.
Rating: 87 points.