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Monday, February 27, 2017

Old Pulteney 1997-2012 Gordon & MacPhail for Alain Verspecht

This week I'll be reviewing a few independently bottled Old Pulteneys, none of which are currently available, each one less relevant than the previous. You're welcome!

For those readers who groaned audibly during that first paragraph, please note that I will be doing a week of current OB OPs in the very near future.

And for those readers who groaned audibly during that first paragraph, there's actually a nice story behind this whisky. Gordon & MacPhail bottled this cask to benefit a non-profit Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research organization that also helps support Alain Verspecht, a Belgian whisky geek with ALS disease. The Bonding Dram was one of the two retailers selling this whisky, and though the bottles had sold out when I went to order one, there were still samples left to purchase.

Distillery: Old Pulteney
Region: Northern Highlands
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Supporting: A Cure for ALS and Alain Verspecht
Age: 14-15 years old (1997-2012)
Maturation: first fill bourbon barrel
Cask number1199
Bottles: 224
Alcohol by Volume: 57%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

Its color is a light bright gold. The buoyant nose starts off with honeydew, ocean air, marzipan and citronella. There are creamy barrel notes at the start, but they linger around the edges rather than forcing their way up front. In fact, they often read like the toasted French oak notes from Spice Tree. After 20-ish minutes in the glass, the whisky picks up aromatic, floral vanilla character. There's an intense maltiness in the palate, followed by milk chocolate and caramel candy (Milk Duds?). It has Talisker-eque salt + pepper. Again, the oak feels more toasted than charred, so there are more spicy notes than vanilla and barrel char. Its sweetness grows with time, and a musty note appears in the midground. The finish has some mild heat and a good sweetness. Its main notes are malt, cocoa and toffee.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose becomes easier with notes of malt, vanilla, milky chocolate and a hint of lime. The palate also gets simpler. There's vanilla, black pepper and a slight bitterness. Some hints of oranges and wood smoke. It finishes with a good bitterness, mild sweetness and plenty of vanilla.

This is a very drinkable single malt that should appeal to almost any palate. This isn't the most complex thing, but it's thoroughly pleasant, something one can just sip in any season. Good cask selection for a great cause.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - it was €66, of which a portion went to the foundation
Rating - 85