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Along with the Islay malts, Old Pulteney has a bit of a reputation as the type of flavour that you either love or hate. The 17 year old makes it into Ian Buxton’s book so it will come around as one of the bottles of the 101 Club (@101WhiskyClub) but since I had some Oddbins vouchers burning a hole in my pocket and since as a group we’re only just at A at the moment, I thought I’d try something new (to me at least).
Although it’s described as the Maritime Malt, the initial nosing was much less distinctive that I’d been led to expect. There’s a slightly medicinal, spirit smell to it, which to me tends to drown out other aromas.
It’s oily on first tasting, clinging to the roof of the mouth and coating the tongue. Unreduced there’s the flavour of oak and the famously sea salt notes but to me it’s harsh, unrefined and a little unpleasant. With a little water the flavour becomes more mellow and rounded, losing the harsh spirit edge and allowing the oak, vanilla and spice to balance out and a hint of smoke to come through.
For a standard bottling it provides a lot of flavour and although the geography is wrong, it bridges the taste gap between the a Highland whisky and the beefier Islay malts. I’ll certainly buy another when I’ve worked my way through this.