Old Pulteney 12 yo 60th Anniversary LMDW
General facts: This is a twelve-year-old official bottling (special release) of Old Pulteney for La Maison du Whisky where the spirit was distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2016. It’s a single cask bottling with cask number 127, where this sherry cask (not sure if it’s a firstfill or refill cask) resulted in 594 bottles of 61,3 % ABV to celebrate LMDW’s 60th anniversary. The whisky is neither chill-filtered nor artificially coloured.
Colour: Reddish copper
Nose: Wow, talk about raisins! Perhaps a slightly burnt note as well, burnt raisins? This is a very sweet nose, but after a while I find something really interesting – a sort of spiciness that is more savoury than sweet. Definitely turmeric. Bay Leaves perhaps too? Walnuts. It’s sweet for sure, but there is also something else here that gives a freshness to it and prevents the sherry influence from becoming stifling. Kind of like sweet-and-sour candy mixed with some fresh lemon! With water a somewhat surprising note of raspberry sauce arrives.
Taste: Incredibly spicy, but with a whole lot of vinous notes and vanilla sugar. Syrup too, and pickled cherries. The whole thing is rounded off with some oil, salt and pepper! You can’t tell it’s more than 60% ABV, this little bugger! With water added all of the flavours are enhanced and the volume is turned up several notches, kind of to a wild west-level…The nuttiness gets renewed energy and some rum-soaked rasins enters from the left together with some salt. The body of the whisky turns to Bassett’s winegums before transforming into the finish.
Finish: A medium long finish where the vinous notes stays around the longest together with some oak, caramel and walnuts. With water some tutti-frutti sprinkles arrives with vanilla and pears right at the end, and the aftertaste becomes somewhat longer.
Usually when I drink Old Pulteney it’s either solely or partly bourbon cask matured whisky where some bottlings are finished on sherry casks for about two years or so but no sherry bombs. Therefore it was a bit of extra fun to taste a heavily sherry matured Old Pulteney, where the oliy and hearty flavour profile of the whisky enhances the strong flavours of the sherry maturation without it overpowering the whisky. Sure, spirit has to struggle but this fight turns into a rich, somewhat rowdy sherrybomb with a saltiness that contrasts all the sweetness at the end and I’m happy that the sherry influences doesn’t take over too much. I understand why La Maison du Whisky chose this cask for their sixtieth anniversary, since the liveliness of the twelve-year-old and the robust character of the whisky together with a thick layer of sherried sweetness turns into something quite extra. Yum.
Old Pulteney 2001 TWA – Spirits in the Sky 2013
General facts: This is also a twelve-year-old special release from a single cask, (although they call this one a single barrel instead of a single cask) but this time it’s an independent bottling from The Whisky Agency. The whisky is dedicated to the Spirits in the Sky Festival in Leuven 2013, with the distillation and bottling years 2001 and 2013. All in all the cask ended up as 351 bottled of whisky with the ABV of 49,2%. The whisky hasn’t been coloured or chill-filtered.
Colour: Light straw
Nose: Quite a lot of green notes with grass, birch sap and green apples. Then I notice clementines, some lemon and cloudberries. The nose is gentle and delicate with faint vanilla. Generally speaking this is a very clean nose, and not as “dirty” as I sometimes find Old Pulteney – and by dirty I mean something positive, like oily and honest with some interesting off-notes that adds to the experience. With water the whisky opens up more with added sweetness and almost turns syrupy together with a kind of “industrial” note that more agrees with the Pulteney character I really like. All of this in the company of loads of blackberry jam. Exciting!
Taste: The first thing that hits me is heaps of tropical fruit with a subtle tone of mango and physalis. The taste is floral and perfume-like with a like oak and some salt, which adds complexity. With water comes soft, sweet vanilla and shortbread which makes me think of “cookie dough”- ice cream, but where the saltiness keeps the experience from turning too sweet. Then a handful of roasted hazelnuts, fudge, a touch of bitter oak and finally a lot of milk chocolate. After having added water the chocolate feeling turns more honeyed, a bit like Toblerone actually.
Finish: The aftertaste is medium long with a lovely, assertive saltiness. Loads of dark chocolate and a touch of mint arrives after a while, kind of like After Eight with some salt flakes sprinkled on top! Finally the finish ends with the same, delicate green-yellow notes as found on the nose and when adding water the aftertaste stays a bit longer.
This is a whisky that is characteristic of Old Pulteney, but also uncharacteristically a bit reserved. A whisky I first thought I would have needed a whole bottle of in order to get to know properly, but after adding water it showed me a new side of itself and a sort of sneaky cockyness I first hadnt counted on since the gentle, fresh nites then became mixed up with a bit of dirty oiliness, honey and salt. Sure, to have a bottle of this at home sure would be nice but this is by all means a whisky that can show several layers in the same glass.
When comparing the two you can roughly say that if the bourbon-matured twelve-year-old is a symphony the sherried twin is a rock concert. Which one do I prefer? Damn hard to choose, actually. My immediate instinct is to turn to the sherried expression, just because it’s so much fun. On the other side I do think many bourbon matured whiskies win in the long run. But, oh well… If I have to choose tonight, where and now, my gut feeling says “sherry”. And hard rock turned up bloody loud.