The previous core range of Old Pulteney incorporated the well-regarded 17- and 21-year-old bottlings, now sadly discontinued. In the same way as many prefer the 18 year old Glendronach over the 21-year old, the 17-year-old Old Pulteney seems to hold up very well against the big brother. How about a head-to-head to see how they compare?
First of all, this was not a blind comparison. That fact usually carries some inherent biases with it, but I think it would have been pretty easy to discern the differences here. The 21 year old is darker, softer and carries with it some hints of even older whisky (like the 33 or 35 year olds, but only a fraction of it). The 17, on the other hand, is more lively and fresher.
The differences become clearer for every sip while going back and forth between two terribly tasty whiskies. It's not a super clear and logical line between the two - they're quite diverse whiskies albeit with a brine-y and fruity common ground.
17 has the fresh and sprawling profile going for it, but is perhaps lacking some balance and depth. The 21 is almost too soft on the palate (bordering on watery in direct comparison) but has a wonderful nose and finish. I'm just going to score them the same this time. That means that the value for the 17 is (was) considerably better of course, but let's ignore that and just say that I wish these were still readily available.