Old Pulteney 21 Years Review

“A Salty Dog"

Whisky Review # 628

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Old Pulteney
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Bourbon and Sherry Casks 
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 120-160 (July 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😕Interesting Malt with a negative Price/Quality ratio! 

Colour: Golden Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Bourbon and the Sherry casks are fighting for control and I miss a little balance here. On the Nose, the 21 Years presents Sweet, Sour, Spicy and Herbal notes. I find Malted Barley, Butterkekse (German Butter Biscuits),Dusty Earth, Straw, Toasted Oak, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Dried Fruits like Raisins, Figs and Apricot, Apple, Pear, Orange, Lemon, Banana Ice Cream, Salted Nuts, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove and hints of Leather, Menthol and Herbal Tea. There are some nice Aromas to be found here and the Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated but the combination of it all does not quite convince me. It's also very Light for a 21 Year old Malt.

Palate: I wasn't expecting a lot after the slightly disappointing Noise but this is not bad at all. On the Palate, the 21 Years is Sweet, Oily, Creamy, Oaky, Spicy and Herbal. I find Toasted Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Marzipan, Toasted Oak, Straw, Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Salted Nuts, Sour Green Apples, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Chocolate covered Raisins and hints of Leather and Espresso.

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter-Sweet, Oily, Creamy and a little Edgy. Very Dry in the end. I find lots of Toasted Barley, Straw, Butterscotch, Caramel, Vanilla, Salted Nuts, Honey, Toasted Oak, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit and Spices like Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove and Ginger. I also detect traces of slightly Sour Berries, Menthol, Herbal Tea, Wax and Apple Cider.     

Drinking Advice:
I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose I find more Orange (Oil) and some Floral Perfume. More Orange on the Palate as well. I prefer it neat but you can add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 85.5        

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Image result for old pulteney 21 yr single malt whisky

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Pulteney distillery was founded in 1826 by James Henderson and is located in Wick in the very North of Scotland. It changed hands various times during its history but since 2006 it is ultimately owned by Thai Beverages PLC. Until very recently, the core range consisted of the 12, 17, 21 and 35 years as well as the NAS Navigator. Unfortunately dwindling stocks and high demand have forced the Distillery to discontinue the 17 and 21 Years. The annual production currently amounts to around 1.6 million liters, all destined to the production of Single Malts.

The 21 Years was launched in 2005 and was elected Whisky of the Year in 2012 by Jim Murray. He scored it 97.5 points and I'm quite sure that this nomination signed the death warrant for the 21 years as demand rocketed afterwards.

🍷  The Spirit 

Old Pulteney only possesses one pair of stills but the shape is quite unique. They have no real heads and swan neck. The Lyne arms are pointed downwards and the Spirit is condensed by stainless steel worm tubs. The result is a medium bodied Floral and Fruity Spirit with a Salty touch. The water is sourced from Loch Hempriggs.

🌲  The Wood:

The 21 Years matured in a mix of Bourbon casks (2/3) and Sherry casks (1/3). The Sherry casks are a mix of mainly Fino (Second Fill American Oak) as well as some Oloroso (First Fill Spanish Oak). The American Oak is slightly Sharper as the European Wood and that's noticeable. Clean Sherry Wood. No Sulphur.

Drinking Experience: Good


This 21 year Old Pulteney clearly has a mind of its own. This is by no means a dull mainstream Malt! It starts off with a Light, slightly Unbalanced Nose. But just as I was fearing for the worst, the Palate strikes back with an interesting and flavourful combo of Malt, Citrus, Spices and Wood that stretches out until the Spicy, Creamy and Salty Finish that immediately invites you to have another sip. Does this Malt deserves 97.5 points? No. Is it worth the spicy price tag? No. But it's a pity that it's being discontinued as it fully deserves its place on the Single Malt map. If only Jim Murray would score objectively! But that's crying over spilled Whisky. I must admit that Old Pulteney is not one of my favourite distilleries but I wouldn't mind receiving a bottle of the 21 Years for my birthday.  I wouldn't buy it though as it's too expensive for what it offers.

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 30, 2017

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