General facts: This Old Pulteney is a limited edition with an ABV of 46% without E150 or chill-filtering. The whisky has been matured in American oak (ex bourbon) and Spanish ex-sherry casks. The interesting bit with this bottling is that these cask have previously held peated whisky from Islay. The spirit was distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2013, which makes the whisky about twenty-three years old.
Colour: Dark golden
Nose: First of all some caramel and oven baked apples, together with a warm wisp of peat smoke that ties everything together. Vanilla, ginger, oak and a faint hint of salmiak soon follows. There is also some sort of sweet-and-sour citrus here, kind of like canned mandarin. The nose is overall sweet but yet fresh – do I detect some mint in the background? With water the flavour profile deepens and a waxier note followed by a lot of vanilla fudge emerges. The smokiness doesn’t disappear completely but does however take a step back, and instead more tangy citrus notes like lime appear.
Taste: Interesting and unexpected first impression! I taste much more peat smoke than the nose gave away, but it’s still not the dominating flavour. The taste is rich with a lot of vanilla and a great buttery feeling to it. This is a whisky with a big, hearty body which offers much caramel, polished wood and a hint of cloves. Then some pears at the end before the taste transforms into aftertaste. After racing added a few drops of water the oakiness becomes more noticeable and some nice, fiery black pepper steps forward. A lovely balance between sweet, salty and smoky with cocoa and black currant jelly emerges.
Finish: At first sweet with toffee and dark chocolate, then some licorice together with salt that pulls your tongue a bit and finally a faint note of smoked meat, in a way. The aftertaste stays long on your palate and warms your chest nicely.
This is a cool Old Pulteney that shows just how versatile this distillate is, since the oiliness and fruit in spirit can take the peated cask influence without getting lost on the way. In addition, Old Pulteney’s classic salty touch gives the whisky an extra kick, which lets the finished result give some surprises without losing the distillery soul. Hats off for Pulteney not being tempted to using peated malt egen distilling for limited editions like this one, but instead used their usual newmake. This prevents the release from becoming predictable and instead offers a different kind of complexity concerning the whole taste experience. Sure, in all honesty I’ll always prefer an unpeated Pulteney, but this really fun and really good.