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Old Pulteney 21 Year Old

Best Whisky in the World 2012?

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@phoenixReview by @phoenix

27th Oct 2011

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Overall
    95

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

So...it's just been awarded ?"WORLD WHISKY OF THE YEAR 2012." by the prestigious "Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.” Scoring a record-equalling 97.5 points out of 100, it is only the third time that a single malt has ever won the prestigious award, and the distillery is just the second Scottish distillery to do so.

I tracked down my bottle yesterday from Berry Bros. in London (truly awesome shop by the way!). It cost me £80.00 and last night I kicked back tried it. Up to now I haven't been a big fan of OP's as they never seemed to quite delivery the complexity I yearned for. But this one should be different...

Initial impressions are good, its a great looking bottle of course and the dram has a beautiful golden glow about it, promising plenty of depth. After a satisfying glugging sound when poured, the nose is quite unique! Fruity, full, slightly spicy and complex. I spent ages and ages just nosing this one trying to pin down the smells. It's just so complex, but begs you to drink it. Its a sexy beast of a whisky to smell I can assure you of that.

And so to the tasting. A sizeable gulp, held in the mouth for 10 seconds and swallowed. To use my daughters expression...omg! First off, its mouth-filling, full bodied and beautifully balanced. Delivering sweetness and balanced fruit flavour only equalled by its smoothness. Theres a hint of sherry and light spice. This is a VERY sophisticated whisky.

My initial thoughts were that Jim Murray has turned a corner with his ratings as previously he often went for malts that delivered a smoke back note (or more). Not so here, this is a complex and exceptionally well balanced dram.

The finish is loooooong and actually made me laugh out loud. I truly thought it wouldn't live up to the accolade, but I was wrong. For me, this well deserves the title of Best Whisky in the World 2012. Its absolutely awesome and now stands pride of place in my 70+ collection. Well done to the guys at OP, you have created an almost perfect whisky.

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26 comments

@smokeybarrels
smokeybarrels commented

Great review- I'm looking forward to trying this one as I love the 12 and 17 year old expressions. He scored this 90.5 last year so it has risen like a proverbial salmon! My only concern is if I buy a bottle of this now in a shop with a slow turnover of bottles, do I get the 2011 or the 2012 version?! (I'm sure I would enjoy it either way to be fair..)

8 years ago 0

@WhiskyNotes
WhiskyNotes commented

It should be a green box, green cap and green label. The picture in this review is not the 2012 version.

8 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

A sexy beast, you say! How does one get this in Ontario, Canada - I would love to know...it's like living in Edwardian England over here...

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@talexander Same problem here in Australia.. only way to source is online, and I don't know I've found any for sale so far (every place is sold out). Hopefully when Whisky Bible 2013 is released, the pundits will jump onto the new World's Best and perhaps a thin trickle of this whisky might remain for the likes of us to experience!

8 years ago 0

@mattberg
mattberg commented

Nice review, bought a bottle of this over the Christmas period and have enjoyed a third of it and decided to leave it for a few months and try it again. It's good but not sure If I would buy another one: loved the chocolate pears, cloves and soft spice but wasn't sure about the balance or body. The 12 yo (glass in hand now) is a great Whisky and I'm yet to try the 17 yo. Will review this 21 yo in a few weeks.

8 years ago 0

@kitchenerfreak
kitchenerfreak commented

Knowing how much more I enjoyed the 17 yr over the 12 yr (and I loved the 12 yr) I can just imagine how amazing the 21 yr is. Fingers crossed I can find it on my next trip to Alberta.

8 years ago 0

@thecyclingyogi
thecyclingyogi commented

maybe it's just me, but i could have sworn this review originally had a score of 98... i'd love to know what changed...

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@thecyclingyogi Yes you're right it was 98/100. Maybe @phoenix found a whisky that would have scored over 100 in comparison, so had to downgrade this one a little ;-)

8 years ago 0

@phoenix
phoenix commented

Hi all,

Firstly, @WhiskyNotes...you're right the 2012 21 year old comes in a green canister and has a green label and cap. However, there wasn't a picture of the new one available to post. Also, I have both the 2011 and the 2012 here side by side and having done a comparative tasting there is very little difference. For my palate the 2012 is slightly more subtle and complex, but you have to concentrate very hard to notice the difference. In a blind tasting I would be hard pushed to spot the difference between the 11 and the 12. It is there, but you can only spot it when they are side by side. The 2012 (Green), is the one to go for is you can get it.

As for the scoring. Yes, I downgraded it by a mere 3 points. Systemdown was right, these scores are comparative and subjective (as well as situational) and I felt I needed to adjust the score by a fraction thats all. In reality its still the same whisky, and a damned good one too! I get to try around 10-15 whiskies per month, so I have to be as objective as possible about the scores. I don't think a drop of 3 points should put anyone off...just get a bottle and see for yourself, its a great single malt.

8 years ago 0

@thecyclingyogi
thecyclingyogi commented

@phoenix, thanks for the response. i totally understand changing a rating, i'm constantly tinkering with the scores in my cabinet as i go along. 95 is still an outstanding score, but 98 was near perfection. i am still curious to try this whisky (it's currently not available where i live), and a few less points is not going to change that. i was just interested in what caused it to drop from being close to perfect. love the review, btw.

8 years ago 0

@zfcrespo
zfcrespo commented

I might be wrong, but I'm quite sure that the Old Pulteney 21 year old bottle reviewed in Jim Murray's Whisky bible, is bottled in 2011... I mean the book was published in 2011 even though the title refers to this current year. It's actually in the review: "Date: 27th Oct 2011". However a new Old Pulteney 21 Year old, is supposed to come out next month (march 2012), which is the first official 2012 bottling.

Would like to know your opinions, please let me know if this is an accurate idea...

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@zfcrespo I believe you are right. The Old Pulteney 21 year old that Jim rated "Whisky of the Year" appearing in Bible 2012 was bottled in October 2011 with a green box. I know because it's in my whisky cabinet.

8 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

You're right Systemdown. I have that same bottle in my cabinet and I talked to the whisky site that I purchased the bottle from (because they had a picture of the 2010 bottle) and they informed me that my bottle would be the one that won Whisky of the Year and would be the green bottle.

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@SquidgyAsh If it weren't for you I wouldn't have it, so thanks again. Still haven't opened mine sigh. Getting to it.. no rush for me I think, I have plenty of others to enjoy for the moment. Hope you're faring better than I, in that regard.

8 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

For some reason I'm not being given the chance to do @replies. Systemdown my friend it was entirely my pleasure! It's sometimes hard to find that bottle that you'd really like to try so us Connosr guys gotta stick together and help one another out!! I haven't got around to opening my bottle yet as it's in the back of my cabinet, but I'm debating leaving it there for a year or so until my brother can come over from the US to crack it open with him! Currently working on a bottle of Aberlour 10 yr old which is quite yummy and getting ready to pop open a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 yr old so I think my special bottles will be languishing for a bit. Oh well!

8 years ago 0

@bajapatient
bajapatient commented

My dad recently returned from a trip to scotland and brought me a bottle of old pulteney 21 YO. I have tasted a fair amount of whiskies in my short time collecting. This one definitely is one of my favorites. I instantly began searching for several extra bottles as I understand the demand is extremely high and these are beginning to become very hard to find.

The bottle that I currently have is the green one with the green case and the whisky bible label on it. I currently have a few bottles on order, but I think they are the same as in the picture above with the gold label. Is it safe to assume this is the same "rare as rockin horse shit" as the 2012 winner? Or shall I try and get my hands on some more of the green labelled stuff?

cheers

8 years ago 0

@zfcrespo
zfcrespo commented

Does anyone else wonder if this year's old pulteney 21yo bottling will be as good as last year? Considering of course, there will be another... I'd like to know your thoughts on that...

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@zfcrespo It's not unheard of for a distiller to ride on the wave of good publicity and get away with lowering its standards to increase profitability - all depends on the integrity of the distiller I suppose. There's only one way to know for sure; head-to-head blind tasting!

8 years ago 0

@zfcrespo
zfcrespo commented

The reason why i ask this is because i question if it's worth keeping one or two bottles of this fine whiskey tucked away in the closet, in view of selling it in 5-10 years time for a marginal profit... As much as i love drinking, i also enjoy the act of collecting and seeing bottles increase their value. What are your thoughts in this matter?

8 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown commented

@zfcrespo Whisky collecting (for profit) is a fairly contentious issue in the community - some say it's a great investment, others say there's no real evidence to suggest that whiskies increase their value enough to be profitable (after you factor in things like inflation and a possible whisky investment "bubble" that may be forming right now as more and more people put bottles away, which may well lead to a whisky over-supply in coming years which would drive prices down to their retail levels anyway).

Personally, I don't bother putting bottles away unless I'd be happy to drink them or trade them - I never expect them to increase in value as to be a profitable investment. That's not to say that you can't get lucky, but you realy have to understand the market and which bottles actually stand a chance of increasing in value, just don't bank on it. Whatever you decide is completely up to you, just realise that it's a risk like any other investment and it could go up or down.

8 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh commented

@zfcrespo I myself collect whisky for a possible future profit as well as enjoying it. There are a couple of things I think that anyone who collects whisky for a possible profit should keep in mind.

First thing I wouldn't ever buy a bottle just because I think it'll be worth something. I buy my bottles to drink. I try to always buy multiple bottles of something that I like especially if it's something in limited quantities so that when I finish my first bottle...I have another! If they happen to appreciate in value and become worth something, that's just an added bonus in my eyes.

Second always set yourself a price limit. And don't go above it. Too often when we think we may have a good deal on our hands we sometimes ignore the voice in our heads warning us to be careful. Try not to. Once our voice is talking to us, it's usually talking to us for a reason.

Third when you buy a bottle, be prepared to drink it at the price you paid. There's really good chances that they won't appreciate in value, so you want to make sure that you're not drinking a $500 bottle and sitting there going "Christ this is just worth $150" Always know what your buying.

Fourth realize that for whisky to usually be worth much you have to likely wait 10, 15, 20 or more years. A couple of years isn't usually enough for it to jump in value for it to make it worth your while to collect.

All that being said I love collecting whisky. I'm a collector. I like having lots of bottles in my cabinet and going "someday I can open this up on "x" occasion and it'll be awesome" and also thinking that with some of my bottles knowing that they have doubled and tripled in value since I've bought them.

I wish you the best of luck with your collection though my friend!! Also the last place I've been able to find Old Pulteney 21 yr old for this year would be ABBEY Whisky. Here is the link. Last I saw they only had 2 bottles left.

8 years ago 0

@cclward
cclward commented

Thanks Phoenix , I was hesitant about purchasing this at duty free recently , I actually purchased this based on your review and not Jim Murray, It is truly a wonderful whisky that i did not believe was achievable from OP. I think the 95 rating is a very fair score , and by the end of this bottle I may score higher.I will have to purchase at every opportunity because it is unavailable in Canada. I purchased in London UK for 56 pounds or 90 Canadian dollars , I encourage everyone to try, It is up there with a Talisker 18 or a Highland Park 18, maybe even better. This is a collector for sure.

7 years ago 0

@psmith523
psmith523 commented

I tried a dram of the 21 year old in Aberdeen last month (Ardoe House Hotel to be precise). I have to say I was dissappointed. Perfectly nice whisky but best in the world? no way. I had a bottle of the 12 year old a couple of years ago and found that to be quite thin and bland so I guess Old Pultney is just not for me.

7 years ago 0

spennie commented

a fair, honest and very true review of a fine whiskey! a magazine column worthy review sir!

6 years ago 0

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