April 8, 2007

Old Pulteney Scotch Whisky

April Dowd photo

I had the opportunity to sample 17- and 21-year-old versions just being introduced to the United States market by this Scottish distiller. The 12-year-old has been selling here for years.


A warm, smooth very balanced single malt. Sampling it sets up the palate very nicely for its older siblings, both of which are markedly different and not just because of aging.


It has pronounced notes of caramel and vanilla, as one would expect, but overtones of honey, citrus and apple come through as well. Once cut with a few drops of water, the nose opened quite a lot, releasing floral esters.


Drier and a touch spicier than the 17, and suspected there was a difference between the types of sherry casks used for each in addition to the ratio of whisky-to-wine barrels. Waring confirmed my suspicions, noting that olorosso casks are used for the 17 and fino for the 21. The 17-year-old is aged 90% in bourbon barrels and 10% in sherry. The 21-year-old is aged in 66% bourbon and 33% sherry. Both are bottled at 92 proof. The 21 provides what I refer to as "full tongue," a complete experience of all the elements the tongue can detect -- sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Caramel, chocolate, honey and a touch of smoke are evident, as are lower tannins than in the 17. The complexity of the flavor range makes it a perfect after-dinner drink.

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