Review – Old Pulteney Vintages 1990 & 2006

The week we will be having a close look at two new travel retail expressions from Old Pulteney. I’ve reviewed quite a few OP’s in the past and you can find them all in the Tasting Notes Archive.

These expressions are labeled as vintages (much like their InterBev stablemates Balblair regularly do) rather than being given an age statement. 

Old Pulteney Vintage 2006, OB, 46% abv, travel retail only, official sample.

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Vintage 2006 was matured in first fill ex bourbon barrels which were selected by Distillery Manager Malcolm Waring. The information provided alongside this release states they are “high quality casks crafted from the best American oak and air dried for flavour intensity”

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Colour:

Pale golden straw

Nose:

The nose is delicate. Very delicate. Light waves of lemon and faint green apples combine with touches of light wood and a sweet white wine-esque element. There is a soft vanilla and a pleasant floral feeling about this. There are touches of milkybars and the softest touch of white pepper when it really opens up. Random thoughts of apples and custard pop in to my head.

Palate:

Initially spicier and drier than the nose would suggest, not in an overbearing way mind you. Mildly oaky and with a slight touch of coastal brine to dry the palate. After a moment or two some vanilla and light caramel appear. Perhaps not caramel, thats too heavy, maybe Caramac bars instead. There is a slight perfume note here, it feels quite light and rather moreish.

Finish:

Some spices linger. Mild cinnamon and perhaps white pepper or maybe even citrus pepper. The wood here is noticeable but quite soft. Balsa rather than oak. After a while there is soft, soft brine and some lemon marmalade.

Altogether it feels quite light but retains a good level and balance of flavour. Quite an elegant dram, soft but also describable as refreshing. Summer afternoon feeling.

Expect to pay around £55 at travel retail outlets for the 2006 Vintage, which I would happily do. A very nice dram indeed.

Subtle, elegant and perfectly balanced. Top stuff.

Old Pulteney Vintage 1990, OB, 46% abv, travel retail only, official sample.

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Vintage 1990 was initially matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks before being moving to Spanish oak casks and finally transferred into a cask which had previously held a heavily peated whisky. No time frames are given for the periods spent in each cask other than for the final finish which is described as ‘brief’. 

Call me cynical but it always raises alarm bells for me when a short term re-cask occurs and this particular one has had two…

I’m not saying I don’t approve of finishes per se but it always makes me ask the question of why recask nearer the end of the maturation. Has the spirit not taken enough from the cask? Is the cask tired? Are they trying to cover over some characteristics that they don’t want?

I’m not saying that this will be the case here (I’m writing this before I have tried the dram) but its always worth considering, especially when a company is utilising such potent casks for a short finish.

Anyway..

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Colour: Copper.

Nose:

Big hits of salted peat and a faint whiff of sulphur on the underside. Burnt toffee, malt and raisins appear when the smoke clears. It may have only been in the ex-Islay cask for. matter of months but it has certainly taken a lot from it. Given time theres a vanilla essence emerging.

Palate:

After the initial peat there is a faint vanilla butteriness that I wasn’t expecting. There is a waft of cigar aftertaste and the faintest ashy element. Some green apple is buried deep underneath. Touches of brine come and go.

Finish:

Quite a powerful coastal note here after the palate gets used to the peated punch. Some oak and some rich tannins.

Conclusions? It is nice at times with some pleasant enough flavours however it just doesn’t ‘feel’ like a Pulteney and feels a bit jumbled at times.

The price listed on the World Duty Free website for the 1990 Vintage is £288.

If I had that amount of money to spend specifically on an Old Pulteney then personally I’d much rather buy a Old Pulteney 21 or in fact forget that, I would get myself three bottles of Old Pulteney 17. (Even at the inflated post-discontinuation prices I found online)

Find many more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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