Somehow I don’t try many Old Pulteneys. That’s more strange since I generally really enjoy the taste and aroma it brings, with gentle briny notes covered in fruit and vanilla.
Deducing from that you might say I prefer the bourbon casks of Pulteney Distillery, and you’d be right. So, when I could get my hands on a sample of the Hand Bottled version from last year, I did so.
What’s surprising is that after 14 years in oak, the ABV is still above 60%, and this makes me guess they filled it slightly above the usual 63.5%. Especially in a wet climate like Wick’s I’d expect to have much more alcohol evaporation and the declining ABV that goes with it.
Or, it was just a really dense grained cask. Really dense.
I think I get a minor whiff of smoke from the start. There’s vanilla and yellow fruits, which I expected. Apple, pineapple. There’s a sugary sweetness going on and a trace of pastry cream. Apart from the smoke we’re still talking bakery here! Some lemony notes too.
The palate is sharp and drying, and that’s not all that surprising. There’s hints of freshly sawed oak. White pepper and alcohol, vanilla. It’s quite sweet still with the hints of fruit and pastry cream being present here too.
The palate is warming and sharp. Again there’s vanilla and sweet bread. Brioche like. Some lemony notes again, but those are faint. Not overly long.
If I just regard the taste of the whisky, without any other factor measured in, I’d be thrilled with a dram like this. It shows the default Old Pulteney flavors and does so in a great and fierce way.
However, when I’d be bottling a distillery only version of a whisky, I always hope that it’s going to be a little extra special. Or maybe it’s more that if I try a distillery only whisky, I miss the experience of bottling it myself and the whisky has to do all the talking. In that situation, this one is good, but it just misses that little extra nudge to make it stand out a little more.
So, this is one of those cases that if it had been me at the distillery having to shell out some 70 quid for this bottling, I’d gladly do so. If I’d have to buy it elsewhere, I might have skipped it.
Then again. In the current climate in which a 15 year old cask strength costs € 100 and this single cask clocks in just below that. I’d still gladly buy it and be happy with it. How things have changed.
Old Pulteney 2000-2014, 14 years old, Bourbon Cask 649, Hand bottled at the distillery, 61.1%. Currently about € 95