The Old Pulteney 12 is an excellent whisky; the 21 year old is exceptional; and this whisky, aged for 30 years, is simply sublime, offering a nose as complex and poised as any on our leaderboard. It has balance so complete that handles a dozen competing flavours with supreme ease. It’s a whisky that is better in my view, than the expression from the same distillery that won Whisky of the Year in 2012.
It’s not cheap, though, setting you back a good £275 for a bottle. That’s beyond the reach of a lot of keen whisky drinkers, which is a real shame; but if you were to save up, you could not get much better. The nose is simply extraordinary, and worth relaying in some detail: imagine the freshest barley interacting with the most quietly complex and sedate citrus, like a fine lemon oil whose youthful tang has been expertly purged. The barley is a delight for the nose in the purest sense, the oak a wonder to behold, and fruits so soft that it caresses, soothes and enlivens all at once.
Uniquely, certainly in the 19 months since Cask Tales’s inception, there’s a new flavour profile in the nose: blueberry, the softest it is possible to imagine. This trip through the forest is enlivened by strawberry and the cleanest apple. As one continues to nose (and this is a process that could happily continue for some time) it becomes intensely fruity before violets and lavender join the show. It might seem that the stage is crowded, but as a new component enters the accommodating theatre seems to expand accordingly. And everything sits, sedate, in almost divine fashion.
After the nose, which is amongst the most perfect I have encountered, there’s a certain trepidation when it comes to the tasting. I needn’t have worried: it’s as complex as it is gentle. Liquorice, aniseed, blueberry all arrive first, followed by the gentle citrus and the barley. Then, finally, a faint touch of the sea air arrives, which Pulteney is most famous for. It intensifies on the finish, filling one’s mouth with a dry salinity before it’s overtaken by a dominant blueberry note, somehow not jarring as it crosses over from one sensation to the other. It lasts a lifetime: all so grounded and understated, yet so complex and divine. It is a world-class whisky, and one that will be remembered for many years to come.
Nose 24 Taste 22 Finish 22 Balance 25