I’ve not reviewed very many Pulteneys. This is largely because there aren’t generally very many Pulteneys to be had from the independents (my last two reviews were of indie releases, however: here and here). The official lineup used to be small too but in recent years, like so many other distilleries, they’ve amped up the NAS engine and put out a number of high concept releases—though, to be fair, they’ve also done some (expensive) vintage releases. In the case of Pulteney the high concept often has to do with sailing. They’ve had a number of boat-themed releases in the last few years, though, thankfully, none of them involve maturation on boats (not yet anyway). I’ve previously reviewed one of these, the WK 217 Spectrum. This one is also boat-themed: it was released in 2014 to commemorate an around-the-world boat race. It’s put together from ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Let’s see what it’s like.
Old Pulteney Clipper Commemorative (46%; ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Briny, lemony, malty: very Pulteney. On the second sniff there are floral/talcum powder notes and some grass. Sweeter and fruitier with time: apples, pears. No real change with water worth talking about.
Palate: Starts off with the malt and it gets maltier as I swallow. Mouthfeel is thin despite the strength. With time there’s a simple sweetness as well. With more time, it gets more bitter with every sip (vegetal/rooty) and there’s nothing new to compensate for it. Will water improve things? No, not really—it’s still bitter/astringent in a vegetal way. With more time the bitterness moves a bit in the direction of lemon zest but it’s too little, too late.
Finish: Medium. The malt yields to lemon and then at the end some grainy notes emerge, turning astringent as they go. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I liked the nose but it showed its likely youth on the palate and finish. I’m guessing the sherry casks are here to mask further feinty notes. Not undrinkable but also not remarkable. If I’d sailed around the world I’d want something better waiting for me at the end of it.
Rating: 78 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample! (Michael liked this one quite a bit more than I did.)