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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Old Pulteney 8 year old 1990 Cadenhead Authentic Collection

The single malts of the Green Bottle Era of the Cadenhead Authentic Collection were often low on oak and super high on ABV. I don't mind the former, but the latter can prove difficult to crack. If the "Oak Cask" wasn't in particularly good shape, the resulting whisky can be raw, and dominated by ethyl notes; adding water to that situation rarely helps. Here are two examples of such experiences. And this one was the first and last whisky to make my face go numb.

Yet this series remains well loved by many old school whisky fans. It represents a simpler, less marketing-fatted time when there was less competition for treasures and a trip to the liquor store could result in surprise and discovery. And I wouldn't doubt if some would argue the whisky was better then. That era was, sadly, before my whisky time. I will say, one of the Collection's 1976 Banffs was pretty awesome.

This sample of an 8 year old Pulteney comes from My Annoying Opinions who—through some sort of Minnesotan witchcraft—rescued some green Cadenhead bottles from liquor store shelves in recent years. I'm not worried about the whisky's youth, but the 63.1%abv sets off Hazmat alarm bells.

Distillery/Brand: Pulteney / Old Pulteney
Region: Northern Highlands
Ownership: InterBev Group
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Authentic Collection
Age: 8 years old (August 1990 - September 1998)
Maturation: "Oak Cask", helpful!
Bottles: 222
Alcohol by Volume: 63.1%

Its color is a yellow gold. Wow, not much heat on the nose. A good sign. It starts with green leaves, anise, roses and juniper.  Then cocoa, pencil eraser and lemon zest. There's a soft medicinal note that floats up occasionally. With 20+ minutes of air, the nose picks up a grape popsicle note. The palate is hot, but too hot. It's sweet throughout, like spicy orange candy. Maybe some green or yellow melon and fresh ginger. There's a good earthy note, out of which grows an agreeable floral character. The writer just realized the latent poetry, then shoehorned it in. Oh yes, there's plenty of malt to be found. It finishes with earth, ginger and lots of sugar. Flower petals up front, pepper in the back.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Flowers and fruit in the nose. Hints of grain (malted and un-) and yeast. Clean of oak. The palate is similar to the nose with more pepper and a caramel sweetness. A hint of of the earthy thing and a nice herbal bite. It finishes brightly sweet, with a sharp citrus edge and a tiny bit of the soil note.

Another good surprise. Though it's loaded with esters and other spirity things, the whisky isn't palate-shredding or out of whack. Instead, it's pretty good. It feels a little younger and simpler with water, but that doesn't ruin it either. It's not a very complex whisky, but it feels more composed than most of the contemporary ultra-young single casks I've tried recently (thisthis, this and this, are what come to mind tonight). My sample probably came from the second half of MAO's bottle, which allowed it some time (and oxygen) to open up. I can imagine a bottle like this could be brutal in its first couple of pours. But as MAO noted, it does open up. Just give it time. Like, months.

Availability - Happy hunting!
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86


  1. I don't think I ever got around to reviewing this myself, or did I? Growing old is so much fun!

    1. Oh wait, I did and you linked to it in your review--growing old really is a lot of fun!