Whisky Live Singapore – Old Pulteney

A highlight from 2016 was attending the Old Pulteney Masterclass at Whisky Live Singapore.

Andy Hannah, Global Brands Development Manager of International Beverages, took us on a journey… providing my 1st sip of their new make spirit and an opportunity to revisit the 12, 17 and 21 year side-by-side.


New make spirit 69%

  • Nose – Very organic, meaty, vegetative, light sulfur, walnut, leather, clean and robust
  • Palate – An initial sting, then rich, quite remarkable how fruity it was on the palate
  • Finish – Oily, lasts and lasts

Very forward, bursting with character.


Old Pulteney 12 year 40%

  • Nose – A suggestion of salt, sugared nuts, vegetative, returned to find a splash of sweet spices
  • Palate – Easy, light citrus, honey sweet, floral, smooth
  • Finish – Short, snappy finish

Andy called this their everyday “all round dram” – easy to see why with such an approachable whisky. He also noted that if you are in the US expect to find it at 43% vs the balance of the world bottled at 40%.

2016-11-13-old-pulteney-17Old Pulteney 17 year 46%

  • Nose – Delightful citrus, tropical, peaches, guava, toffee
  • Palate – Full and chewy style, more substance, soaked rains, lots of pears, More complexity, full mouth feel, more pronounced and intense, apricots, lots going on
  • Finish – Dry and spicy
  • Water – Can open up but don’t drown! (my personal preference is without water)

Andy described the 17 year as the “brother – forthright with lots to say” noting it is matured in oloroso sherry with a different style than the 12 or even 21 year Old Pulteney.

Old Pulteney 21 year 46% 

  • Nose – Soft, light, fresh fruits – particularly apple, pear, warm
  • Palate – Coats the tongue beautifully, creamy spice yet soft. Wonderful, elegant, creamy mouthfeel with a hint of smoke
  • Finish – Dry finish
  • Water – Again can add but… really… why mess with a good thing?

Andy described the 21 year as the “refined, elegant sister.” Some comments around the table noted that it is far too easy to drink and hence quite dangerous!

Andy also shared this was the 2012 Jim Murray Whisky Bible world whisky of the year, with the influence of sherry, yet in a different direction than the 17 year.


Discussion then turned to queries about the Lighthouse range – Dunnet HeadNoss Head, Duncansby Head. Andy shared while all are NAS, they typically are 8-10 years.

Then queries about what makes the 89 Vintage so special? Andy called it a “happy accident” as it was matured in a cask that previously held Islay whisky so there was a soft peat touch.

When asked if there are likely to be more single casks released – he confirmed quite likely as and when something interesting is found.

Overall it was a mighty fine way to experience Old Pulteney with their affable knowledgable global brand manager.

Old Pulteney

PS – I was fortunate to be a guest at Whisky Live Singapore, courtesy of InterBev

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Whisky Ladies enjoy Old Pulteney 21 year 46%

This wasn’t my first rodeo with the Old Pulteney 21 year – I had the pleasure of sampling it at a master class with Stuart Harvey and then with Andy Hannah at Whisky Live Singapore.


However it was a 1st for the Whisky Ladies and a treat to share as the ‘kick off’ to our November session.

What did the ladies find?

  • Nose – Mmmm… apples, pears, light flirtatious flowers, honey, salted caramel, ginger snap spice
  • Palate – Salty sweet pepper, beautiful complex flavours, wonderfully syrupy, soft fruit, oily, thick on the tongue, nicely chewy, well balanced, slightly smokey quality
  • Finish – Delightful dry cinnamon spice, tinge of bitterness in a good way

Then commenced a healthy debate on differences between tasting in a Glencairn glass vs Norlan glass… Our standard is to sample using the Glencairn, however one whisky lady returned from Canada with an early Christmas gift of a pair of Norlan glasses.

For many the Glencairn glass brought out more pronounced aromas, brighter more intense whereas the Norlan softened, rounded and blended the elements. On the palate, most preferred the Norlan as it enabled the flavours to shine muting the ‘alcohol’… which happened to also make the Old Pulteney dangerously easy to drink.

One remarked that Glencairn brought out the academic elements where one could distinguish the apples from honey from spice whereas the Norlan brought everything together creating a more sociable, approachable and companionable whisky.

Bottom line, the whisky was a perfect start to our evening!

The Whisky ladies experimental evening followed with:

PS The Old Pulteney 21 year was compliments of InterBev.

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Balmenach 26 year (1988/2015) 51.1%

The last in our quest for great cask strength whiskies for around 100 pounds was from a distillery one rarely sees sitting on shelves.

We closed with Balmenach from the InverHouse stable… A distillery I now know better for their Caorunn gin than whisky!

Long have rumours run that there are plans to start producing official distillery bottles. I considered this session’s offering a sneak peak into what may come to more of us… in due course… hopefully…


Balmenach 26 year (09.11.1988/07.09.2015) 51.1%

Hogshead Cask No 3242, 192 bottles, from Signatory

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Smoky bacon, wet dish rag, high phenols, lots of pine tree, sweet leather, subtle, sun dried, sweet dry spices, more the hint of potential peat not smoke like vanilla scented candles
  • Palate – Lots of body, hazelwood, sweet, dusty, dry yet entirely pleasant, more of the cinnamon, nutmeg sweet spices, fruits and cream
  • Finish – Relatively short finish yet zero burn, a delicious spice
  • Water – Not required but also accommodated

This whisky was easy to enjoy, moved in one-way yet without a doubt the most interesting of the evening. In many ways, it was quite classic in character.

Like the other cask strength whiskies sampled, we set it aside for some time. In our revisit found oily bacon, less spice but overall quite nice and worked well with the cigars.

Overall, for most the Balmenach was the ‘winner’ of the quest and we would certainly want to explore more…

Billy Abbott’s tasting notes on TWE rang true:

  • Nose: Fruit salad to start – orange segments, apples, pears and tinned peaches. Sharper and weightier notes build, with oily touches joined by cut grass, vanilla toffee and raisin-studded shortbread biscuits. Softly floral waxiness sits underneath, combining singed candle wicks with heather and honeysuckle.
  • Palate: The buttery biscuits of the nose leap to the fore, with whipped cream and warming woody spice – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Stewed apple peeks out from behind the spice, and charred staves and earthy dunnage notes sit beneath. Water unlocks fresh fruit and sweet cream.
  • Finish: Spicy to start, softening through apple pies and poached pears before liquorice and anise revive the heat.
  • Comment: Layers of fruit and spice with even more fruit revealed if you add a drop of water. Old-fashioned fruity whisky at its best.

What else did we sample in our trio?

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