Single malt whisky - tasting notes

21 Dec 2010

Old Pulteney 21 Years

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Old Pulteney

For their 17 and 21 years old expressions, Old Pulteney uses a mixture of
ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. For the 17 this is mostly oloroso and PX sherry (European oak), while the Old Pulteney 21 years relies mostly on the drier, sharper fino sherry (American oak). The amount of sherry casks versus bourbon is around one third.


Old Pulteney 21 yearsOld Pulteney 21 yo (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: on a first level, quite spicy (ginger, mint) while showing the coastal character of the distillery. On a second approach, it turns out to be more complex than younger expressions, with notes of cereal bars, some vanilla, leather, a little wax and faint phenols. Not exactly fruity, but there’s plenty of nice apple notes. Mouth: sweet start but again not a fruity sweetness – more like toffee and honey. The centre is full of malty flavours. Turning to dry flavours, spices and a little salt. Some ginger and orange peel. Finish: long and warming, with malt, pepper and smooth oak.

All the typical Old Pulteney elements are here, but they’re muted by the age. The emphasis is on the spices and sweet malt which makes me prefer the younger versions. Around € 110.

Score: 84/100

Update 23/10/2011

Whisky Bible 2012This Old Pulteney 21yo has just won the World Whisky of the Year award in the 2012 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Do I agree with his record-equaling 97.5 points? I’m afraid not. Although it’s definitely a fine whisky, and although Old Pulteney is taking big steps forward in terms of recognition, I’ve had better drams this year.

Old Pulteney 21 Years 3 Ruben Luyten 2010-12-21
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  • Thomas

    From the picture beside your tasting notes, it seems to me that in Dec 2010 you have been tasting the old bottling (old design, age statement in the centre of the label), whereas Jim Murray’s current rating refers to the new bottling (new design, age statement on the right side of the label).
    Given the experiences I have had when comparing old and new versions of standard bottlings (for instance, of the Ballantine’s 17 YO), I really would like to emphasize this point.
    People tend to compare their experience of a (possibly older) bottling with what they find in recent tasting notes and ratings.
    Yet there is a reason why Jim Murray does re-evaluations of the “same” whiskys each year.

  • Ruben

    Thanks Thomas, I get your point. This is exactly why I state bottling years in all of the reviews to make sure we’re talking about the same version. If anyone is being (intentionally?) vague on this point, it is JM. He doesn’t say which batch he tried just like we don’t know which specific batch of Ballentine’s or Ardbeg 10 he reviewed.
    I’m willing to accept that the quality of this product has progressed and I’m looking forward to trying new versions. But based on previous Whisky Bible awards, I’m afraid we would still disagree about the fact that this is the best whisky of the year. You see, in my opinion the Whisky Bible is always trying to select a good but also very commercial and widely available whisky. While this is perfectly valid and certainly a smart move for the Bible (many bottlings are not found everywhere) it’s not completely fair to claim it’s the best whisky full stop.

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WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.