A rare TT not organised by the whisky wire! I tried the 12 and the 21 at The Whisky Show (amazing to see I’ve given the 12 the same score in the dark quiet of my study compared the insanity of the whisky show!) and thought the 12 was good but the 21 better. OP has been on my hit list since then, so I was pleased to get a spot on this tasting. We tried the 46% Navigator (NAS), the 12yo and the new “peated cask” 23yo 1990 vintage.
Old Pulteney Navigator, 46% A⊖
A variety of ex-bourbon barrels and ages, small amount of sherry casks, some younger than 10 years old.
Nose – Wax, then lemon, grapefruit, wheat, little bit of malt. Very fresh, some cream. Toffee comes later and some pear. White grapes. Beautiful, waxy, elegant nose.
Body – Abrupt arrival; malt, pepper, chilli spice and bitterness. Bit harsh on the mid-palate but nice toffee to the side.
Finish – Short, bitterness continues. Bit of a bumpy landing from the nose. Both the body and finish are significantly improved with water.
What's not good about it: Young/harsh palate and short finish, showing its youth.
What’s good about it: Stunning nose, better with water (as is the palate).
Old Pulteney 12 year old, 40% A-
American oak casks
Nose – Mango and wax, rum and raisin – both a little faint but very lovely. Some red apple, toffee, then malt. Water makes things worse on the nose.
Body – Rich malt and toffee arrival, but replaced fairly sharply with wood bitterness. Bit more orchard fruit. Water doesn’t help.
Finish – Short again, wooded, too little balance on the bitterness much more complex than the Navigator.
What's not good about it: Unbalanced, short finish.
What’s good about it: Nose, complexity, price (its £23 in Tesco at the time of writing – for £23 it’s remarkable)
Old Pulteney 1990 Vintage, 46% A+
23 years in refill ex-bourbon and sherry casks, all of which previous held heavily peated whisky.
Nose – Rich but fresh sherry, very light peat note. Malt and black cherry, but cleanly done. Lovely nose, quite elegant but still rich and cakey with some old leather. Lovely, complex, elegant nose.
Body – Maple syrup, rich sweet toffee, loads of balance, flavour and the peat backnote works well (quite drying).
Finish – Frazzles. Don’t know that the integration holds together at the end, it does feel a bit separate (23 years in the cask is a long time but I guess I’m used to the malt being smoked rather than the cask). Finally, old furniture polish.
What's not good about it: At this price (£120) it doesn’t work for me. The integration falters at the end (its lovely before then)
What’s good about it: Again, lovely nose, very interesting. Extremely well made spirit. Challenging (just like the English Rum Cask Chapter 7 is challenging, but this time it doesn’t pan out for me).
Thanks to OP for the samples.