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Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Requisite Pulteney

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@systemdownReview by @systemdown

26th Mar 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Old Pulteney 12 @Day 0, 2012-05-28

A U.K. import, added as a "filler" in a special shipment from Whisky Online, May 2012. My first Pulteney! A steal at 19 GBP (about AU $30).

Nose: Delicate. Sweet Fruity - pears and a trio of apple, pineapple and custard apple. A hint of smoke. Refreshing and appetizing. This is marketed as a "coastal" malt, but the coast is nowhere near as apparent on the nose as, say, an Island whisky such as Talisker. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation on preconceptions! With water: Lemon grass, floral, even a hint of something herbaceous?

Taste: Fruity, briny, zesty, engaging, tart without being bitter. Just when you think this lively delivery will overpower, it settles down marvelously on the palate allowing the fullness of flavour to be heard. With water: Lemon zest, bitter citrus development, very warming.

Finish: Short but well balanced, effortless finish where the rich taste and controlled bitter tartness lingers awhile to savour.

Balance: Very well balanced across the fruity and complex nose, the engaging delivery with robust flavours developing on the palate - one of those malts that effortlessly marries citrus zest, brine and sweet barley to great effect.

Score: N22 T22 F20 B23 = 87

Another dram, please! I think this bottle will disappear rather quickly over winter (well, if one is allowed to call it that in sub-tropical Australia).

Old Pulteney 12 @1 Week

Nose: Sweet apple cider, rose water, milk chocolate, melon, orange juice, table grapes - a "fruit and nut" chocolate block with a shot of Cointreau. A whiff of briney sea air and a just a hint of smoke. Patience really rewards. Beautiful.

Taste: Smooth, oily, rich delivery of perfectly weighted barley, fruit, gentle oak tang and chocolate amidst a background of distant peat. Moving this around the palate engages all the taste buds with sweet barley sugars, citrus, spice and brine; a full and robust dram. Brilliant!

Finish: Oak spice, malt, brine, citrus bitters, bourbon wood notes. Trails off slowly and measured, as to impart all of its warmth and complexity to the last embers. Perfect bitter-sweet balance with a pleasing dryness and some lingering spices.

Balance: The nose has something for everyone and entices no end. Far from false advertising, the palate picks up and continues the theme of the nose and delivers every sensation promised. The robustness and richness of this whisky is actually quite outstanding given the standard 40% bottling strength - if this was chill filtered then it must have been done only to a minimal degree as the amount of oil present is exceptional, the oils carry all departments and elevate them to a degree that I can only imagine is not surpassed for any whisky's entry-level standard bottling. My new benchmark has been set.

Score: N23 T24 F23 B24 = 94

As usual I don't have the notes handy from the previous tasting, but I know this has opened up greatly with only a week to breathe. Truly one to savour. I wonder if this can get even better with more time?

Old Pulteney 12 @1 Month

Nose: Confectionery sugar, vanilla, raisins, pavlova, fresh and jammy fruits (lychee, grapes, pineapple, apple, passionfruit!) - effervescent like sparkling wine. Grappa, cherries, a twist of lime - is this whisky, or a fruit basket? Brine, tea, peanut brittle, pine oil, maple syrup. Also a distant molecule or two of smoke and something reminiscent of pickled plums. Probably the best nose of any 12 year old whisky I've ever experienced (to date at least). It really is that good.

Taste: Oak spice bitterness, brine, lime, honey and bourbon influence. Clean malted barley. Crisp. Some sherried spices add a lovely complexity and weight. Honest. Each element executed so well to deliver a result greater than the sum of its parts.

Finish: Drying, savoury, some tartness, brine, oak and malt lingering. Again in great balance. Fantastically warming - enough oils to make for a decently medium length finish. Damn this is good.

Balance: Not much else to add really - I've mentioned the complexity of nose, beautifully balanced palate and fine finish. Nothing out of place, superb all 'round. Only docked a point for not having just a fraction more sweetness on the palate and finish (at least to my tastes). All in all, a very minor criticism indeed!

Score: N24 T22 F22 B24 = 90

Old Pulteney 12 @2 Months

Nose: Citrus, brine, vanilla, honey, oak - bourbon notes loud and clear. Toasted malt, distant hints of peat smoke. There's a secondary layer to this that speaks of richness and quality, although difficult to detect anything specific. With some time, apple, pear and other fruits are detected. Really lovely. Becomes sweeter with time in the glass.

Taste: Confident delivery of lemon zest, brine, woody spices with a well-weighted mouth feel. Great, sustained length. Getting some of that fruit - grapey notes, rockmelon perhaps along with the malted barley. Possibly the biggest, richest mouthfeel of any 40% ABV single malt I've had to date.

Finish: Apple cider vinegar, a pleasing soft bitterness (restrained pepper). More melon on the finish. Lingering - this one doesn't go away in a hurry which is a very good thing indeed.

Balance: Great complexity for a standard entry-level malt. Big palate to go with the rich, inviting nose and the finish continues the theme admirably. Seems a touch of bitterness is creeping into the palate and finish, however it does not last and is not overpowering enough to disrupt the great citrus/zest combo, or the inherent sweetness of the malt.

Score: N21 T21 F21 B23 = 86

Still a fantastic dram at 2 months after opening (in a 3/4 full bottle). Exceptional value for money.

Old Pulteney 12 @4 Months

This sample taken from a 25cl bottle decanted day after opening.

Nose: Subdued and mellow, fragrant but lacking clarity of individual notes at first. Vanilla and/or honey (soft bourbon oak notes) emerge however with citrus and sherry following, then walnut wood, apple cider - a little Speyside-ish. Tea tree / herbal toothpaste. Light malt. Ozone. Slightly earthy or minerally, perhaps. Anise or licorice. A developing toffee note over time, but could also be milk chocolate.

Taste: Fairly mellow arrival, citrus and brine on the mid-palate, white pepper, herbs, honey, malt, moving to slightly dry/tannic but with a great mouthfeel. Bourbon oak is certainly there. Nice balance between sweet and savoury. This is really good stuff! Layered complexity makes this seem greater than its bottled 40% ABV. I do not want to add any water.

Finish: A little bitterness to kick things off, drying; Cola, fresh nutmeg, some ginger, dry wood. Apple peels. Perhaps a touch of cumin.

Balance: Still exhibiting the kind of balance and complexity that makes this the alluring dram that it is. Unfortunately the developing bitterness on the finish prevents a higher score here. Nonetheless, still an enchanting single malt of affordable quality.

Score: N22 T21 F20 B21 = 84

Final (Average) Score: N22 T22 F21 B23 = 88

Related Old Pulteney reviews


systemdown commented

Bottle code: L11 142-1B B11/5177 16:44.

The "142" could also be "112" and the "B11" could be "R11" - it is a little hard to read. It is definitely a 2011 bottling, though.

8 years ago 0

Max commented

Wow, that's one comprehensive review, well done) Love it myself. One of the most pleasant and balanced malt among 12yo on my scale

8 years ago 0

teebone673 commented

This is a great review. I'm gonna have to give this one another try. I had a bottle that I slowly drank over a couple years and thought it was just ok. This makes me want to go out and grab another bottle. Thanks for the thorough review.

8 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Thanks for the kind words guys. I fear I'm quite partial to my O.P. 12. From the other reviews I've read though, I may a) Have a natural bias for this style of whisky or b) Got a bottle from a very good batch or c) A combination of the two.

I would definitely want to try a sample from a newer vintage (2012/13) bottling.

8 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

Love your "evolution" reviews. They are the Mona Lisa, Hamlet, Beethoven's Fifth, Citizen Kane, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band of whisky reviews.

In other words...eh, not bad.


8 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Superb review. I am want to try the 12 again. Very soon!

8 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

Wow. What, no 9 month follow up ;-)

7 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Hah! I probably have a 6 month and 12 month follow-up somewhere. I'll be sure to add those when I get a chance!

7 years ago 0

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