Old Pulteney 17 Year: 46% abv
Background: We’re back to Old Pulteney. We released a podcast with Old Pulteney whiskies as a big cameo. The 12 Year has been the KCM quality per dollar pick for quite a long time; and by a long time, we reviewed that whisky back in November of 2012. But what about a more premium, older Old Pulteney? Is that same quality from the 12 Year present in older expressions? It’s in the name, after all. The answer to that question can be found by looking at the 17 Year, which is a single malt at 46% and un-chill filtered. Some fun facts about Old Pulteney: They are limited to one wash still and one spirit still, contributing to a very limited production of one million liters per year. Also, if you take a look at Old Pulteney’s stills, they are very uniquely shaped, which might contribute to the very unique flavor that their whiskies have. Now it’s time to put this more expensive whisky to the test.
Nose: Well this doesn’t disappoint the maritime coastal theme that Old Pulteney totes about in their advertisements. The nose is instantly salty, with a fresh smell of seawater. It is so prevalent in this whisky, I can’t think of anything else like this. There is a rich maltiness that couples very nicely with a tropical fruitiness. The tropical fruit notes include tangerine, mango, and melon. There is also a slight vanilla note, which tends to take a back seat to the salt blast. The oakiness from the cask is hard to depict in the nose, but there are subtle layers of spices that come through evenly. There is also hints of floral notes that surface occasionally. The balance in the nose is extremely enjoyable, allowing for a full exploration of the flavors present.
Arrival: The arrival starts off with the tropical fruit notes and maltiness. There is a nice presence of oakiness, along with a load of spiciness. The arrival is probably the thinnest part of the whisky, still having plenty of complexity. It is a little lighter, and hides some of the salty character of the whisky.
Body: This is where the salt really kicks into the whisky. Along with a very dominant note of sea salt, orange marmalade and tropical fruit notes invade the senses here. This is such a bombastic body in the whisky. There is some nice caramel, vanilla, and beefy spices that come forward in the body. There is also some sugarcane that shows up.
Finish: The finish really drags out the saltiness, along with a nice fading of malt and tangy fruit notes. There is a very vegetal aftertaste to this whisky, with a slight hint of leather and sawdust as well. There is plenty of cloves and allspice, with dashes of ginger and nutmeg that also play into the finish. There is definitely reminiscence to a chai tea when you get further into the finish.
Nose: The nose has become much more floral, with more hints of vanilla and caramel coming through up front. The whisky starts to smell slightly more alcoholic now, with the tropical fruits and saltiness still being dominant notes. There is also a slight instance of baking soda in the nose now, coupled with an older note of leather polish. There is a strange note of over-ripened apples and even a bit of perfume to the nose.
Arrival: The arrival becomes more spicy and the tropical aspect of the fruit flavors is more exaggerated. There is a more candied lemon flavor in the arrival now, with some spicy oak moving into the body. The maltiness also comes out much more now than it did before.
Body: The fruit flavor is huge here in the body now, bringing out a very tangy, tart, delicious blend of tangerines, orange, and lemon. It is a truly amazing experience. It doesn’t become so tart as to mask the coastal notes of this whisky, but the flavors do pop in a beautiful fashion.
Finish: The finish surprisingly takes an intensely bitter, oaky turn after some water is exposed. It is by no means unpleasant, but it does present a different edge to the Scotch. The tropical fruits are still present, along with some other sweet and salty flavors, but the wood really plays into the whisky now. The spiciness is still a strong component. There is even hints of tobacco in the finish now.
Final Comments: So this is a salty, coastal Highland malt that distinguishes itself from a lot of its competitors. The 12 Year Old Pulteney made us interested in the distillery, the 17 Year made us fall in love. It is an intense one and it isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you want to get more adventurous, this is an all-time KCM favorite. This whisky wins points for complexity, balance, and uniqueness, and with just a bit of water the blasts of flavor just get better. I would go so far as to say if I had to drink one whisky for the rest of my life, at this point this would be the one. We highly recommend you give this a try if you get the chance.
Why you’d buy it: Because at this very moment, we’re telling you to.
Why you wouldn’t: You don’t want to try something with the intensity that this whisky has.