I’ve barely reviewed any Pulteney on the blog, and none from the core age-stated, official range—though I did include the 12 yo in my “well-rounded single malt bar“. Here now is the 17 yo. I believe this is from a bottling from 2012 or so and is a vatting of both bourbon and sherry casks.
Pulteney is in the Northern Highlands—way up in the north of Scotland. Its closest neighbour on the mainland is Clynelish, I believe, and the two Orkney distilleries may be even closer. In terms of profile I usually find it to be close to Balblair (also in the Northern Highlands) and Clynelish—which may say something after all for the notion of regional profiles, which I’m usually suspicious of. Pulteney is the name of the distillery, by the way—Old Pulteney is the name of the whisky produced by the distillery. I believe it used to be the case that independents couldn’t use the “Old Pulteney” name—certainly the case for the older Scott’s Selection and Cadenhead’s bottles I’ve reviewed—but of late I’ve been seeing it on indie labels as well.
Old Pulteney 17 (46%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: A little chalky and grassy at first but as it sits it gets briny with some lemon rind and a more indistinct sweet note joining in as well. That grassy/chalky thing takes a turn towards cider and the sweet note towards vanilla and a bit of pastry crust. Water brings the chalk back.
Palate: Lemon zest leads the way and then there’s quite a bit of malty sweetness and a nutty, bready thing. Very nice. Nice mouthfeel too. On the second sip there’s quite a lot of brine. The lemon expands as it sits (still quite zesty) and the pepper shows up earlier too. With more time and air a metallic note pops up as well and those intriguing malty, bready/nutty notes recede. Water pushes the metallic note back but washes everything else out a bit too; far less briny now.
Finish: Medium-long. Gets a little peppery at first and then that salt from the palate really kicks in. A while after swallowing there’s a milk-chocolatey taste in my mouth. With more time there’s a slight oaky bitterness too. With a lot of time (almost an hour) it gets quite fruity. As on the palate with water.
Comments: It wasn’t very promising at first sniff but the nose opened up nicely as it sat. I liked the palate from the get-go. Basically, I’d say it’s a richer version of the 12 yo—more or less what you’d expect that to be with five more years and sherry casks in the mix. It’s just missing some character and development. I wouldn’t ever turn down a pour though—but I’d hold the water.
Rating: 84 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!