A Traditional Beast

Old Pulteney Single Cask 1995 #2989

Reviewed by victor


This is the first review in a series of Old Pulteneys coming up, as I have a quite a few vintage and single cask samples waiting eagerly in a large box. I've tried a bunch of OPs before so I think I know what to expect. Given the strength of this beast (61.3%, which even makes it illegal in some countries) I didn't waste much time before adding some water to it.

Bottle number 71/250

Deep gold, 0.8. No added color, no chill filtration.

Nose

Without water, very rough. Tons of burn. Very much like acetone. Behind all that, perhaps some bananas and a little sweetness. After adding water, I'm happy to report that the acetone goes away. Still not watered down enough to remove some of the alcoholic sting, but that's OK. Distinct vanilla and toffee. When closing in on the final drops in the glass, very pleasant aromas of chocolate and coffee. Clearly getting better and better!

Palate

Again very rough without water. No surprise there. After doing the reasonable thing and watering it the expected stuff start coming out - vanilla and fresh fruit. Mouthfeel is a little oily.

Finish

Even unwatered, it's warm and full. Fills the palate quite literally as it sticks the roof of the mouth and lingers for some time. Medium length. The difference after the water is that the sensation is more subtle at the very beginning of the finish, but the warm and spicy finish still comes back afterwards. Sweet and full.

There's no surprise that this got a lot better with water. Nothing wrong with cask strength, but whisky is not meant to be had at these strengths in my (not so unusual) opinion. It's always nice to try it neat first though, in case one is pleasantly surprised. Speaking of surprises - I find myself being cheap with my scores when a whisky is unsurprising. Managing expectations is very important and a huge part in why blind tasting is so valuable and often throws all whisky "knowledge" out the nearest window. This whisky is unsurprising - a well made Old Pulteney with a classical profile. That being said, it's very good. It's super enjoyable once you find your preferred strength. So to summarize - great, albeit unsurprisingly so. The key to this dram is "water and plenty of time", as every sip is better than the previous.

Score

80 / 100
0-50 Subpar 51-60 Drinkable 61-70 Decent 71-80 Good 81-90 Great 91-100 Fantastic