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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Old Pulteney Clipper Commemorative Edition (blind tasting)

Keeping with all their boat-themed NAS expressions, Old Pulteney released this Clipper Commemorative bottling as a tribute to the folks who raced 'round the world in their yachts in the...er, Round the World Yacht Race in 2013-2014.

Released in July 2014, the Clipper Commemorative edition was "limited" to 16,200 bottles. Perhaps due to its lack of age statement, an overestimation of the whisky-drinking yacht enthusiast contingent and the high bottle count, the Clipper can still be found rather easily in US, Europe and Japan.

I included this amongst my four-whisky blind tasting this past weekend. It turned out to be the third glass. (See here for the first whisky, and here for the second.)

Distillery: Pulteney
Ownership: Inver House (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Northern Highlands (Wick)
Type: Single Malt
Age: NAS
Bottled: 2014
Limited Bottling: 16200
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? doubtful
Colored? probably not
(DISCLOSURE: This was one of the bottles that Amy from Ten27 Communications had sent me recently (thanks, Amy!).)

Its amber color is the lightest of the four. The nose has a momentary Loch Lomond-style garbage note at the start, but that quickly vanishes. It's replaced by very clean light floral notes, followed by whisky wash, and a hint of grape candy. It's very grassy. With time, it picks up small notes of maple syrup, vanilla and yellow delicious apples. Wow, the palate starts off all barley. Straight up wort. Yeast. Roasted nuts with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. Then brown butter and saltines. Hints of bitter herbs and a phenolic note. It finishes with brown butter and barley. A little bit of heat. Mild bitterness and that phenolic element.

This one fascinates me. During the blind tasting it sat next to the WK217, the darkest of the four. Both are made up of American oak and Spanish oak casks, but they couldn't be any further apart in style—perhaps due to first-fill/refill cask status. While the Clipper does pick up some small oak-influenced notes after oxidation, it's usually very grassy and barley-forward. Meanwhile the WK217 is mostly sherry. Despite their differences, these two were my favorites.

Yes, the Clipper is undoubtably young, but I don't find it out of balance. Nor is it hot. Nor do I find it as oaky as Whiskyfun and The Whisky Jug did. I've had a few pours of it since the tasting, and I still feel the same way. Because I'm not exactly part of the yachting crowd, I have no idea if Clipper is great for fancy boat drinkin'. But I can say it's a nice spring or summer whisky, and takes to ice very well. I'd happily buy it at $40, though that's the lowest price it goes for.

Availability - A few dozen retailers in the US, Europe and Japan
Pricing - Japan: around $70; Europe: $55-$80 (w/o shipping and VAT); US: $40-$60
Rating - 85

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