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Old Pulteney 21 Year Old

Average score from 16 reviews and 49 ratings 89

Old Pulteney 21 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Old Pulteney
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%
  • Age: 21 year old

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@Pandemonium
Old Pulteney 21 Year Old

Ah Old Pulteney, my salty old flame from Wick, so familiar yet still largely uncharted territory. Though I regularly stock a 12 or 17 in the cabinet, I never ventured any further in the wonderless world of this Northern Highlander, aside from a few independent releases. The 21 was built around a recipe similar to that of the 17yo. Only with a higher percentage of first fill Oloroso sherry casks in the mix and four extra years on it.


Description: matured for 21years in both 2nd fill bourbon and 1st fill Oloroso casks. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: a simple coastal profile: briny and earmarked by oak tannins. A core of grain with fruit notes of pear and touch of caramel to sweeten up the ensemble.

Mouth: a thick round highland body with a subtle rich but salty palate: old wood and varnish go hand in hand with a lick of honey, seaweed, white pepper and some lemon squash.

Finish: medium long with a fade on wood polish.


Verdict: born in salt and smoke, matured to perfection. What’s not to like about this grand and refined Old Pulteney. The fruit from the 17yo has made room for a polished wooden profile. Most enjoyable, she handles the strong influence of oak quite well.

@PMessinger

Warm slow crisp steady licorice and red fruit loaded arrival develops a vanilla and vegetable balanced sweet thick mouth coating finish.

@Jules thanks for your feedback. I have not had the 17yr old yet look forward to trying it sometime. This one was really good and I was surprised by just how good it was. Thanks again. (:

I like it & (almost...) agree with your score, but the 21yo is overpriced. I find the 17yo has as much to offer for a lot less cash - have you tried that as well?

@Nozinan

This is a sample received from @Paddockjudge in early 2014. The sample bottle was half full (not a reflection of stinginess on his part - I had tried it a few months ago) and preserved with gas.

I review a 15 cc pour. The notes are in standard sequence. Nosing and tasting with water occured after the notes were made neat, and 3-4 drops of spring water were added to the remaining 12-13 cc and left for over 5 minutes.

The sample labelling states that this is not chill filtered but I did not see the appearance of Scotch Mist in this one.

Nose:

  1. Neat: Caramel, granny smith apples, white wine (oaked chardonnay).

  2. With water: Caramel is a little more prominent. Fruit notes a re a little more powerful as well, wine smell is subdued. With even more water and a bit of time I get a hint of pineapple

Taste:

  1. Neat: alcohol with slight burn. Salty, sour. No other discernible flavours. a little thin.

  2. With water: I get a hint of licorice in the arrival. Still has an alcoholic burn. Mild fruity sweetness. The addition of more water does not add to the experience.

Finish: A little vanilla

I can’t rule out that this sample is past its best before date, or perhaps my nose is still recovering from last week’s cold. I’ve heard great things about this expression but they were not apparent in my glass.

This is not the type of whisky I usually reach for so I’m happy I got a chance to try it, but I won’t be spending $200 for a bottle.

So many variables there are in whisky evaluation: the whisky, the specific batch of the whisky, how the sample was stored and handled, the taste of the reviewer, the experience of the reviewer, etc.

I've had samples of Old Pulteney 21 yo which ranged from wow-me great to just about what @Nozinan has described here. Jim Murray made a big point of pointing out that the Old Pulteney 21 yo released a year after he named it World Whisky of the Year was not of the same quality as the batch to which he gave the award.

Even to very accurately contrast personal tastes I really think that two reviewers have to compare notes on samples taken from the same bottle tasted at the same time. One of the reasons I especially like tasting with friends is the opportunity to compare notes on the very same beverage, norming sample origin and bottle storage and handling questions. "What do you think of this stuff I just poured you?" is a far more specific question around which contrasts of taste can be observed, than is "How do you like Talisker 10?" If someone asks me how I like Talisker 10, my short answer has to be, "It varies a lot." My only complete and fully accurate answer I can give is long and complex, because I've had a lot of very different experiences of it with different drams of it from different bottles. If you ask me about the Talisker 10 you just poured me, I can answer that question rather quickly and directly.

The provided sample of OP21 was from batch L12 044 18... it was one of two bottles purchased in July of 2013 at Rothesay, NB., $133CAD.

I found this to be a delightful whisky - extremely enjoyable - scored 92. I have often lamented over the fact that I didn't obtain more.

@jerryclyde

Color: Dull copper (a bit cloudy)

Nose: Briny (being very representative of the distillery's location) with soft fruit notes (pears) and something sweetly floral in the background; just the barest whiff of smoke.

Palate: Light body. Initial saltiness is countered by very light honey sweetness. The oak makes an appearance mid-palate followed by an intense spice buzz.

Finish: Quite long for such a light malt. Salt and spices lead the way with some tannins late.

This was Jim Murray's 2012 Whisky of the Year with a 97.5 rating! I was hoping for some sort of life changing whisky moment; it didn't happen. All that "manuka [and] lavender honey [and] arbutus blossom" - nary a hint. Hell, I wish I knew what an arbutus blossom was.

@vanPelt

First vapor: Inky rubber and old peanuts; then hazelnut butter.

Nose: Lemons and sea salt, on underlying vanilla banana. Some surprising floral tone that lifts honey and malt-- differentiating it from the 17yo. The 21yo is more present and sharper.

Palate: Buttery arrival with vanilla, right along side flavors of sea-salt/black-pepper/ginger. Then a sweetness grows with honey (still with those entrance spices though). Towards the end, lemon curd with sea-salt at the back of the mouth. (This latter effect is originally faint, but it grows with oxygenation).

Finish: Malty on the tongue while becoming oakier (woody + some vanilla). Still the lemon/sea-salt lingering happily in back. Less vanilla on the exhale than found in the younger versions.

This 21yo is scrumptious. The 17yo's complexity draws me more, but I have to admit the 21's quality is at least on par. The reason is that those vanilla/honey sensations are heightened by the sea salt and spices, making the 21 more lip-smackingly tasty. The 17 had more complex spice overtones (cardamom/nutmeg), but the 21 is more overt with its own spices (salt & pepper, ginger). The 21's other flavors also seem more obvious: more vanilla and lemon, versus lighter cashew and banana in the 17's palate. I would have expected the opposite trend.

It's a challenge to propose similar malts other than the 2 younger Old Pulteneys (12 and 17). I think the difficulty is that such salty big flavors are more common in younger Islays, which usually exhibit smoke-- unlike Old Pulteney. Low-smoke Bunnahabhain 18 and Ardbeg Galileo could attract a similar fanbase, as could 2 of my OP12 comparisons: the 10-year-olds of Glenfarclas and Arran. And I am reminded of my Glendronach Octarine tasting (but it's been too long to recall in detail). However, although these suggestions are all very good malts, the OP21 is in a noticeably higher quality bracket and worth any whisky lover's consideration.

@markjedi1

The best whisky in the world! No less than 97.5 points. Well, in 2012. According to Jim Murray. Could it be? I doubt it, but you never know. We will take our time for this one. It is a mix of bourbon and sherry matured whisky.

The first whiff is good, but not impressive. White fruit, grains, marzipan, light hint of seaweeds and some oak. A trace of smoke, all the way in the back. Vanilla, ginger, aniseed. Develops nicely, though. Roasted nuts, leather and even a hint of peat if you ask me. Banana peel. Needs a lot of time, though.

The attack is sweet and peppery. Loads of citrus, now. And very briney. Despite the modest ABV, it packs some punch. Raisins, orange peel, mint. Caramel and vanilla. This is actually quite complex and very good!

The finish is mildly drying with quite some woodspice.

It is a diesel. It takes time to warm up, but once it is at cruising speed, it is very good indeed. But it is not the best whisky I ever tasted, which makes it the victim of its own success, I suppose, as it will never be able to fulfil the sky high expectations bestowed upon it by some liquid prophet.

I 100% agree - it is a very good malt, but by no means the best. In. The. World. I was told (by a very well known whisky writer and journalist, who shall remain anonymous) that the sample that Pulteney sent Murray was very different from what is bottled for consumers. Interesting.

Seriously? That might explain some things. But anyway, Murray has never really been my compass. His notes are good and concise and he is undoubtedly a very good critic, but our tastes are too far apart, I fear. And I am less influenced by testosteron and ego :)

@Rantavahti

Old Pulteney 21 year old was Jim Murray's selection of Whisky of the Year 2012. Mr Murray gave it 97,5 points which is the highest score he's given so far. We were fortunate to get a bottle of this for our whisky tasting in Finland before the price started to rise higher and higher.

Though this is not necessarily my kind of whisky and that's why not in my top 5, I can surely relate to Jim Murray's compliments of it. In fact it is hard to imagine anyone not like this whisky. It's a smooth and consistent ride from the start until the very end. And what's the best part of Old Pulteney 21, is that it gets better at every step.

That's why I have to relate it with The Shawshank Redemption, probably the most liked movie of alltime. At least the most popular of IMDB.com. Just like Old Pulteney 21, The Shawshank Redemption keeps getting better all the way till the end. It grabs you from the first minute and keeps you glued on to it.

I know that the story or the characters of the movie doesn't necessarily match with this whisky but what the heck, they're both good, even though you wouldn't like their genre.

Nose: Fruity with green apples and pears. Very very smooth with hints of spices, pure luxury for your senses.

Taste: Peaty and peppery but most of all sweet malt. After adding water, caramel starts to force it's way to the foreground.

Finish: Very lasting and very good. A bit on the dry side with a delicately spicy tones. Vanilla and fruity notes as well.

Balance: The balance of this whisky is charismatic, it keeps getting better in every step it takes. The finish is what I would call the main event of a entertaining show.

This one's one of my favorites. Great review. I can't praise this whisky enough. And that has nothing to do with Murray. It's simply an excellent dram every single time, especially with some air.

I know that Citizen Kane usually is in the top of quizzes about the most popular movies of alltime but I think it's because it has to be. It's more like a statement from the people from the industry or who have studied film at some level. I'd say Shawshank Redemption is more of an film for everyone's taste.

R

Opened my bottle of OP21. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. In fact, I've actually not always liked some of the bottles that Murray has lauded and heaped praise on, in the past, and so my hopes were not up terribly high.

Well, Murray was right this time. The nailed it, lock stock and both smoking barrels. A cracking dram, to be sure. I smuggled a 100ml shot bottle washed and then refilled with OP21 into a movie theater last night. It was fun to take nips while watching Silver Linings Playbook with my gal on Valentines Day after I'd made her dinner and driven us to the theater.

Silver Linings started out slow, arduous, and psychologically claustrophobic. I would have been bored and even irritable if not for the whisky. Since I only had 100ml with me, I let the OP21 flood over my tongue like mouthwash, swishing it around. I just wanted to stretch out the fantastic flavors as long as possible, kind of like that German reviewer on Youtube that reviews fine scotch for The Whisky Store. I never would have thought to drink whisky like that if I hadn't seen him do it first. It's kind of revolting to see somebody swishing around whisky like mouthwash, with big round eyes wide with appreciation, especially with the sound levels so high with the swishing sound effects, but, hey, it's actually quite an effective way to get all of the nuances and flavors from a really fine single malt.

The 100 ml bottle was empty after about fifteen minutes, despite my efforts to get the most from every last drop. Even after the bottle was dry, that OP21 finish on my tongue lasted for another fifteen minutes or so, and by then the film's plot had started to pick up the pace.

Thanks, OP! You saved me from dreading the possibility that I was going to have to sit in the theater with a hideous chick flick for two hours of torture. As it turned out, the movie wasn't torture. It ended up being a fairly good romantic pick, especially for Valentines Day.

As for my tasting notes: I'm sure you've heard dozens of noses, palettes, and finishes about this whisky by now, so I won't belabor the point with redundancies. Suffice it to say, this one's a keeper.

www.youtube.com/watch

Check out the Microsoft Picture that changes for each review with an appropriate visual. My German is not terrible good, but I can follow along and gather the gist of the reviews judging by this fellow's facial expressions with some admitted fast-forwarding through most of the extraneous parts of the reviews.

Der Deutche Mann has reviewed nearly every bottle that I've been interested in buying when I could not manage to locate reasonably independent reviews online by anyone who is not working for the actual distillery.

Dieser Whiskyspeicherrezensent ist ein machine (in a good way). He churns out informative reviews of practically all of the good stuff like clockwork. And if he doesn't swish long enough and his eyes don't go wide, then the whisky in question hasn't passed muster.

www.youtube.com/watch

@rigmorole, thanks for a most entertaining review. Maybe the only time I've read a review sans tasting notes that nevertheless made me want to try the whisky. (Too bad it doesn't seem to be available here in the Midwest at this time.) You even made me want to see Silver Linings Playbook, but I may wait a few years until it's available free on Xfinity. ;)

I took one year of German in high school, which was back about the time of the McKinley administration, so all I caught from Der Deutche Mann's review was "Oh, yah!" But it's nice to know our Teutonic friends have their own Ralfy equivalent.

@Onibubba

Opened this baby up on NYE. Have had a chance to play with it a bit, so I thought I would post my notes. First off, let's talk price. Old Pulteney is expensive in my neck of the USA. The 17, a fine dram, goes for 95.00 when I can find it. I have only seen the 21 available at one store in Louisville KY and it was priced at 125.00. Both are crazy expensive. Good, but crazy expensive.

Nose. Honeycomb, honey suckle. Slight sherry. Fresh, bright, "new." Reminds me very much of a recent Duncan Taylor release of an 18YO McCallan. Stewed/rotten fruits playing around the edges. Pear and green apple up front.

Taste. Sweet honey. Quick burn. Salt. Sweet trickling, lasting burn down the throat. Butterscotch hard candy.

Finish. The burn lingers. Honeycomb and butterscotch Life Savers. Butter Rum Life Savers. No bitterness, but not cloying either.

I do not get a hint of oak, vanilla, spice, wood, or anything of that nature. This is all about fresh sweet honey, salted honey peanuts maybe. It is mouth watering stuff and dangerously drinkable. For only 30 or so dollars above the 17YO, I'd buy it if I saw it. However, if the 17YO was available and this was not, I would not knock myself out trying to track it down. I guess what I am trying to say is better than the 17, but not worlds apart from it.

I got a bottle in Houston when I was down there for under $130. Not terribly expensive for such a great whiskey. The 21 is not available in Oregon where I live. What a superb dram. Superb, and yes, it will put a little hair on your chest. Great in summer or winter. I tried the 17 year OP the other day. It had some astringent qualities that surprised me-- a "gauze" like overture that was very faint. It was also delicious, but does not measure up to the 21 in my book. I definitely prefer the 21 and find the difference of four more years of aging more than a little noticeable.

You know what? I'm going to agree with you now. I would bump this up a point or two, and take the 17 down a point or two.

@talexander

I capped off my "birthday week" by serving 3 Scotches in the office (paired with cheeses and chocolate). One was the Bowmore Tempest I already reviewed; another one was this one (which I had already shared with my father the weekend prior). Needless to say, it was a huge hit.

You may know that this took top honors from Jim Murray in this year's Whisky Bible. I can understand why - it is extremely complex and truly beautiful.

Pulteney Distillery is the northernmost distillery on mainland Scotland, and was established in 1826 in the village of Wick. Wick was a major fishing port (focusing on herring) and the whisky is nicknamed "The Maritime Malt", with ships, maps and waves of sea decorating the packaging. Things changed in 1922 when the town voted to go dry (!) and the distillery closed in 1930, only to reopen in 1951.

The 21 Year Old vats together malt matured in ex-bourbon casks with malt from ex-sherry casks - yet those sherry casks are, like the bourbon, made from American oak. It is non-chill filtered.

If you like the briny malts of Campbeltown or Skye, you will love this - though it generally has more fruitiness going on. The dram is a pale golden colour in the glass, and the nose is very malty and sweet - notes of honey, lavender, anise, caramelized pear, baked apples, vanilla, white grape juice. Incredibly complex, with lots of fruit and caramel. Surprisingly, adding water doesn't do all that much here.

The palate is also wonderful: sweet malt peppered with allspice and brine. Very fruity. Lots of vanilla and honey. Fresh and bright for a 21-year-old, but also with a lot of depth. Very creamy, more cooked apples and pears. Some chocolate notes. Water does bring out a little more flavour. Absolutely delicious, very drinkable and approachable. No-one could be intimidated by this refreshing and exiting malt!

The finish is medium length - gets sweeter as time goes on, underlined by strong oak, which to me makes its first real appearance here. Brilliantly balanced between sweetness, fruit, and the depths of caramel and vanilla. I would say this is well deserving of Murray's prize (though not quite at the heights of his winner the year prior, Ballantine's 17 Year Old, which I re-tasted 2 nights ago and was again blown away by). I look forward to more offerings from this distillery!

@scips

Yeah, I know, the box is nice means nothing. But that's first look. A sometimes first look mean it all. So to the box designers: Great Job! The bottle itself has 2 more stage, making a nice bubbling sound while serving. Cider! that's the nose...

Tell me, tell me, tell me why you a re the 2012 winner...

taste: Wawww, ok I got an idea.

It taste holidays with friends. After the meal, everything is finished. The house is clean, and you enjoy a rest while watching the external element with a smile of satisfaction.

It's not that complex but it has an awesome balance.

The only issue is the finish... not hard enough to make me stop after the first glass... I will fill another one.

I'm glad I bough this one.

Actually, I think that "The box is nice" is a GREAT tease. It makes the reader wonder whether there will be intense bashing to follow, though mentally registering the "92" score immediately thereafter should obviously dispel that notion.

It has been way too long, almost a year, since I had my only sip of Old Pulteney 21. I loved it then, and I am due for more.

I bought a bottle of this as Christmas and took two months to drink it to give it time to settle. I thought it was a bit too thick and sweet and reminded me of fruit salad. Technically a great product from the distillers pov but I felt like I was drinking tourists Whisky. Far better offerings out there for the money.

J

Nose: Vinilla icing, cookie dough, lots of different kinds of sugar, sweet malted barley, sea spray, lemon candy, creamy honey, lemon pastry tart.

Palate: Soft entry, hard rock citrus candy, a variety of sugars, some earth spices, cooked vanilla, creamy honey, sweet grains and cereals, a distinct light sea spray of light saltiness that runs though the middle of the palate.

Finish: Long and tangy, sweet lemon zest, vinilla sugars, a salty sea brease.

@Gold

So, whisky of the year 2012. A bold claim and statement. First of all, available for £50 only in Glasgow - a steal (well, it is Glasgow after all). The whisky is certainly excellent. It is rich and very smooth. There is sherry, spice and complexity in abundance. The finish is long and satisfying. Is it my best whisky - no, not at all. A very good one, and one to derive satisfaction from, and a 21 year old for £50 is a real bargain. Try it, and enjoy it.

@mattberg

I wanted to leave this a few months to review after initially buying a bottle over Christmas and drinking a third..... Have left a few weeks so anyway here we go.

The nose is bursting with ripe fruit and, herbs, juniper berries, pears and vanilla.. The arrival is very ( very sweet )sweet, honeyed with nutmeg, cinnamon and pears....this moves to a delicate and oily white-pepper coating of the palate that fades to what I would call a fragile finish, not long lasting enough.

Granted, this is a lovely offering, beautiful on the nose but a bit too sweet for my tastes, not robust or spicy enough... To be an award winner this should be coming in at cask strength to really show it's colours. Otherwise it's an after dinner sherry-sweet delicacy.

I tried this with water and for me it just diluted the essence: great aromas but weak delivery.

For this sort of money I would opt for the best Mortlach available or Springbank 18 yo.

@phoenix

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.

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.

@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.

@WhiskyNotes

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.

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

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