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.

2016-11-13-old-pulteney

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.

2016-11-13-old-pulteney-12

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.

2016-11-13-old-pulteney-2

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.

old-pulteney-21-yr

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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Classic Highland Dram – Old Pulteney 17 year 46%

First up in our Bombay Malt & Cigar club’s blind tasting surprise evening was a familiar friend in a slightly different age that we ordinarily encounter.

Which seemed to be exactly what our whisky curator wanted to achieve – trip us up with a less usual avatar of a well-known whisky.

old-pulteney-17-year

Old Pulteney 17 year 46%

Here is what we discovered:

  • Nose – Sweet caramel, lots of vanilla, hint of flowers, hay with a touch of dry wood, none of the typical fruity elements, except perhaps pear?
  • Palate – Initially lots of sugar, think warm peaches or apple sauce, very smooth without a single harsh element, nicely balanced with substance
  • Finish – Pleasant then absent

The smoothness was remarkable – particularly as the 1st dram of the evening there was none of the typical 1st sip reactions. A superb choice to start off our tasting!

Our speculations about region began as a default of Speyside (so many come from that region it is an easy pick!) but as we became more acquainted with the whisky, highland became the region of choice.

We pronounced it quite ‘classic’, well constructed, balanced, and while not complex, a quite lovely beginning to our evening.

With the reveal… some surprise.

Typically in recent Old Pulteney whiskies, the maritime quality is quite pronounced – particularly in the standard 12 year and the superb 21 year. What stands apart from many others is that slightly briney salty edge.

Until we were told the distillery, this element was not immediately discernible. Once it was known…. was it there? Naturally it seemed so (oh the power of suggestion or perhaps the inadequacies of our perceptions!)

We are no strangers to Old Pulteney either. While I may be a more recent convert thanks to Inver House entering India, another member has been a fan for decades.

He shared that this particular Old Pulteney reminded him of what the distillery used to produce years ago… a classic, enjoyable, accessible daily dram you would be happy to settle down with.

Here is what the folks over at Old Pulteney have to say:

  • Nose – Sweet with traces of apples and pears: slightly woody with a hint of butterscotch
  • Palate – Sweet with soft fruits: kiwi, guava, peach

Matured in fine oak casks, quietly breathing in the fresh sea air, Old Pulteney is the very essence of this unique place. Intricate, balanced and with a delicate mineral-salted spiciness, Old Pulteney is a distinctive and evocative spirit – truly The Maritime Malt.

It paired well with our cigars (Gurkha 17 year) and a serious dent made in its contents by the end of the night!

Coming up next in our BMC Blind Surprise tasting:

More Old Pulteney tastings in Mumbai:

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BMC go ‘blind’ – Old Pulteney 17 year, Westland Sherry, Amrut Bourbon

Til date, our Bombay Malt & Cigar (BMC) gents have proudly shown off their bottles. And who wouldn’t? We’ve had some rare treats like the Balblair 38 year or whiskies all filled by hand.

However sometimes half the fun of a whisky tasting evening is to have a surprise – discover something new about a distillery you thought you could readily spot or have your notions challenged by something completely different than expected!

Our most recent BMC night adopted a ‘blind tasting’ approach, with our whisky curator carefully covering each bottle. He was rather excited to see what we thought before the unveiling… prompting us to try to guess the region, if not distillery.

old-pulteney-westland-amrut

What did we sample? And what did we guess?

Gleefully the whiskies were uncovered to show that while we guessed the right region for the Old Pulteney and the distillery was named at one point, it didn’t have the clear maritime stamp we now associate with Old Pulteney…

As for Westland? Wow! I will confess to shouting out my delight as it proves once again the folks there know exactly what they are doing!

And Amrut? The verdict is still out…

If we were betting, the house clearly would have won this round!

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Old Pulteney 21 Year 46%

A year ago, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a master class with Inver House Master Distiller Stuart Harvey.

Our evening featured three whiskies being launched in India:

However there was a special treat waiting in the wings to pair with desert… The award winning Old Pulteney 21 year!

Photo: OldPulteney.com

Photo: OldPulteney.com

Here’s what I found:

  • Nose – Salty spice, all that maritime delight in the 12 year brought into focus, made richer, fruitier yet with a spicy earthy undertone
  • Palate – Super smooth, exceedingly well-balanced, sweet, smoke, chewy… in short delicious!
  • Finish – Light turmeric, a bit bitter yet lovely, made you return for more….

Stuart shared that typically a 21 year would loose 50% to the angels share… noting that generally in Scotland, one loses 2% per year, yet after the 12th year the rate begins to slow down and, particularly for barrels maturing by the sea, can even re-absorb the salty sea moisture, adding to the character.

Specifically, for the 21 year, Stuart noted it is matured in Spanish oak, pairs well with chocolate and, unfortunately, would not be available in India as they have a limited volume. Audible sighs could be heard throughout the room!

Stuart did share that they will be bringing out more single casks in 2016 as “some are worth it.”

As he put it – nothing beats the combination of having a “good cask maturing a good new make spirit.”

Official tasting notes:

  • Appearance – Golden amber with straw highlights
  • Nose – Full bodied with traces of fruits (apples and pears); slightly fragrant with spicy overtones.
  • Taste – Creamy, toffee, vanilla, baked red apple with a hint of smokiness and a dry finish.
  • Profile – Toffee, vanilla, spice, hint of smoke

Want to explore more Old Pulteney tasting experiences?

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Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies meet Karen Walker – Old Pulteney 12 year

After the thoroughly delightful Caorunn Gin, Balblair 03 and Speyburn 10 year, up next in our sampling adventures with Karen Walker, Global Marketing Head for Scottish Brands of InterBeverage Group was the swarthy sea-worthy Old Pulteney 12 year.

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

By this point, we couldn’t wait for Karen’s crazy whisky stories.

She began by sharing that Pulteney is one of the most northerly distilleries of Scotland and known as home to ‘gold and silver’ aka Scotch and herring. Picture this – a town with 7,000 migrant workers drinking 500 gallons of whisky A DAY… you do the math! And yes – that includes the women too.

Then moved on to the background to a picture of her with Prince Charles – yes THE Prince Charles of the royal family – that proudly graces Karen’s bathroom.

And the story? A potential PR disaster averted by an advance team that pointed out that with all the slats in the stairs within the distillery (remember – distillery fashion advice?), Charles could not go up the stairs with the press following… After all… the headlines the next day should be praising the unique character of the Old Pulteney distillery not speculating what the prince wears (or doesn’t beneath his kilt!).

Karen then went on to describe the character of the distillery, high up in the highlands, firmly retaining its fishing heritage.

Old Pulteney 12 year 40% – Gold n Silver from 3′ North of Moscow! 

So it is no surprise that the whisky character reflects is swarthy sea lashed heritage. Here is what our Whisky Ladies found:

  • Nose – So sweet, salty, caramel, cinnamon, ocean salt… could be… dare we say… a bit fishy??
  • Taste – Thick and smooth, woody, oily… “An orchestra in my mouth!”
  • Finish – Quite oily, no spice… “Did I just have my cod liver oil dose for the day?”

Some of our lasses are new to whiskies, so took note that Scottish whiskies list the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. Even in a 12 year label, there may a few elements of much older whiskies.

Up next:

Related posts sampling with Stuart Harvey:

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Old Pulteney 12 year 40%

Sometimes you feel like channeling your inner fisherman… a little swarthy, gruff but still seaworthy despite being a bit rough around the edges.

If you like your whisky a little like that, the Old Pulteney might just be one for you!

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

Old Pulteney 12 year (Inver House)

Some months ago, we sampled the Old Pulteney at a master class held in Mumbai with Inver House master distiller Stuart Harvey.

Stuart shared that the Old Pulteney new make spirit is quite ‘meaty’ with vegetal and noted that much of the sea salt comes from the casks absorbing the ambient air during the maturation process. It does indeed have a distinctly briney character very much in keeping with its maritime spirit!

Here’s what I found during the tasting…

Old Pulteney 12 year 40%

  • Nose – Green apples, fruit, sea air with a bit of brine, warm, sweet vanilla
  • Taste – A bit more of that brine upfront then in bursts some citrus, chewy tobacco, leather, woody, salty, honey and again that curl of vanilla, perhaps a hint of cinnamon bark?
  • Finish – A little spicy tingle yet sweet too, bit oily
  • Water – Really… if you must!

For the Old Pulteney, Stuart encouraged a drop or two of water. However suggested to never have more than 50% whisky and 50% water as the Old Pulteney is already 40%.

I must admit my inner single malt snob sniffed! How could one drown a dram?! However looking around the room, realised a few were still being weaned off shocking fabulous whisky aromas with copious chunks of ice! So perhaps a little drowning with water is the lesser of two evils…

Before bringing out a special treat of an older Old Pulteney, Stuart shared that originally the distillery only produced the 12 year… it was one of the first projects he had as Master Distiller to go beyond the 12 year alone to introduce the 17 year and 21 year.

I quite enjoyed the slightly rougher edge and maritime feel of the Old Pulteney 12 year – it has an unmistakable ‘stamp’ that distinguishes it as a distinctly ‘sea-worthy’ Highland whisky.

Here are the official tasting notes just to compare:

  • Nose – Medium to high intensity with a briny hint of sea air
  • Taste – Dry, medium bodied and smooth, redolent of honey and cream, faintly salty with a slight spicy note and a sweet long-lasting finish
  • Profile – Vanilla, citrus, briny, sweet
We sampled the Old Pulteney 12 year at a masterclass together with:
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