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The title to this review suits this whisky perfectly, it's as crisp as fresh seashore winter breeze. It's all in there in your glass, spewing it's maritime character at you. It certainly has it's definite character and it spells coastal, in HUGE letters.
I already used this whisky as a point of reference and landmark for coastal/island malts. It sits on the very edge of the salt scale. To put this into perspective for the less experienced, if bruichladdich sits on the other end and you got the likes of tobermory (and older scapas in the middle) you'll get it. Although if you haven't tried these other malts, i guess what i am trying to convey is that this is a distinct type of saltiness (or salinity) this isn't heavy, zesty or dense salt (bruichladdich) but light, crisp and clean.
I needed to put the saltiness into words because: First, it defines the body here and is the kick in the same way as peat is for the likes of Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Secondly, it can come across as a bit vague when some refer to the salt note in a whisky, that is if you aren't experienced.
So now that we have that out of the way here's the tasting notes:
Nose: Maritime storms, seabreezes with a bucketload of iodine. Green and red apples, with a huge orange note. Green gauge, with more fruits, tropical this time: Guava and pineapple! A very light and fresh grain supports the fruit.
Palate: BOOM! There it is again, a summer solstice daylight sea storm of iodine and crystal clear salt.. crystals. The salt is nearly overpowering but the malt is barely able to hold the chaos at bay. The fruit then takes over, first the apple note comes forth but more complex than on the nose, with pears and pear-drops. Then tropical fruits that are mainly composed of a big pineapple note, but just a few seconds after it's arrival we enter the eye of the storm, an eye of mandarin, tangerine and satsumas!
Finish: The satsuma&orange note holds and perpetuates a long finish but doesnt let anything but the malt in with it. A few tropical fruits come back in a silent tandem but the satsumas are very dominant.
For it's price tag and it's strength, this is a BIG whisky. I like it, it doesn't take any prisoners, it has it's definite character and it's sticks with it. But behind the, nearly chaotic, salty and mandarin blasts lies a composed complexity. To support this complexity this whisky also benefits from a very long finish.
I know Old Pulteney has already it's share of prizes and accolades, and although undeserved by some, not fans of the style, or sceptical as to the rumors of some prizes being bought. There is no escaping that this is good stuff. The quality makes itself evident from the first whiff to the lengthy finish. Hope to investigate the prized older brothers but considering the prize the standard 12 year old is amazing bang-for-the-buck.
It's just a very, very good quality malt, simple as that!