...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Single Malt Report: Old Pulteney 17 year old

Oh, how I missed you all.  The work day is unkind, to put it mildly.  To further my New Year's intent to explore the good stuff, today's post is about some good stuff.

I love Old Pulteney 17yr.  But you know what I love more than the Old Pulteney 17yr?

PEOPLE!  Buy this.
Because if you don't I will.  I will buy all every last twin pack and my wife will be sad.

Seriously, if you find it at $40, you must consider the screaming deal at hand.

This OP twin killing is how I had the opportunity try both of these malts.  The OP12 is a great step up from 'Fiddich and 'Livet.  It has some curious sour and briny notes that I really enjoy.  The 17 year is an entirely different creature.

Distillery: Pulteney
Ownership: Inver House
Region: Northern Highlands (Wick)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: Primarily 2nd-fill ex-bourbon American oak casks, along with former Pedro Ximenez and oloroso sherry Spanish oak casks 
Age: minimum 17 years
Alcohol by Volume: 46%

The color is a bright light gold.  The welcoming nose flexes both the malt and oak.  Mostly American white oak, but also a tiny bit of the ex-sherry oak.  The fruits are more fresh than dried.  There's a lot of honey butter and coconut cream.  A little seaside too, along with some orange and lemon zests.  The palate moves from milk chocolate to dark chocolate.  Lemon, flower blossoms, caramel sauce, and confectioner's sugar.  It's creamy with a brief peppery zing.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a lively bold sour citrus note too.  It finishes with toffee and sugar first.  Then a little salt sneaks in along with a mossy moment.  As it gradually fades away, a trail of mint remains.

The nose gets younger and spirity.  Lots of vanilla and malt.  Apples.  A little citrus, strawberries, and bubblegum.  Caramel sauce leads in the palate, then some cereal grains and sweet fruit juice.  Both grassy and floral.  A pleasant sourness remains.  A little sherry in the finish.  Some milk chocolate and toffee too.  Salts & sweets & sours.

It took a while for the hydrated version to grow on me, but (as usual) I prefer this one neat.

My notes say, "What if there was a Glenfiddich 105?"  Maybe the OP17 inspired that thought.  I really don't know what I was referring to, but I thought I'd just share that.

Back to the OP17.  As Jordan from Chemistry of the Cocktail noted, this one's pretty light for a 46% ABV.  According to Serge's reviews this whisky keeps changing character over the years.  He may be onto something, as everyone who's reviewed it online seems to find his or her own unique notes within the glass.  Perhaps this is due to different proportions of the sherried-vs-American oak; a little more PX one year, more bourbon in another.  There wasn't a lot of sherry oak in this batch, unless it was from 2nd or 3rd fill casks.  Also, according to Dominic Roskrow's 1001 Whiskies, while Old Pulteney 12 year's American oak casks are first-refill, the 17 year's are 2nd refill.

I do enjoy the whiskys that test the permutations of blending American and European oak matured malt.  Big ups/props/credit to the distilleries that bottle their whisky (especially those on the pricier end of the range) at 46%, too.

I cannot guarantee that you'll like OP17 as much as I.  So rather than shelling out $80+ for a bottle, you may want to keep an eye out for that Twin Pack.  If I haven't scooped them all up first...

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - for the 750mL bottle - at $70  :) , but at $100  :(
Rating - 90


  1. I finished my 375 of the OP17 in record time. I'm just pleased that I didn't drink it straight out of the bottle. I kinda wanted to...

    1. I may or may not have done that with the final drop...

  2. I was talking to the owner of my favorite liquor store about this set just last night. It is a stunning deal.

    1. Yeah, it's amazing. The selfish side of me didn't want to tell anyone about it. But it's so good, everyone should get a shot at it!

    2. It's OK Michael. I may have neglected to tell anyone until I had my own order in...

  3. A stunning G&M bottling of OP21 (all first fill exBourbon cask) made Peter Silver exclaim - "This is better than the OB OP21 - and even the 17, my personal favorite". (At the last Morgan Library whisky event). The point is that malt maniac Peter Silver emphasized how great the OB 17 is. I ended up buying a full bottle of the 17 when I ran across a store selling it for $73. All the other stores in the NYC are are charging $80-$99.

    1. Ah, that G&M OP21 was main whisky from your event that I most desired! It made its way to K&L Wines here in CA and then promptly sold out. You nabbed the OB17 at a great price, a price that we'll likely never see again.

    2. Must be my imagination but I seem to recall a few bottles of that G&M OP21 on the shelves of Beltramo's in Menlo Park... but I'm PRETTY SURE it was only my imagination.

      *starts running to car*

    3. According to their website, it may not have been your imagination...