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Old Pulteney 17 yo (2017, OB, 46%)

A blend of ex-bourbon, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez, this 17-year-old from Old Pulteney is the younger brother of the 21 yo, which won the award for the Best whisky in the world in 2012, according to a self-styled authoritative whisky guide, whose editor is a man of infinite modesty: Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Not a few shadows on that victory, not a few surprises: we had tasted the 21 yo a few years ago, today we focus on the 17 yo: directly from one of the most Northern distilleries in Scotland, here it is.

N: looking at the composition of the barrels, we certainly expected it to be bolder. On the contrary, it shows a proud and even a bit gruff Highlander profile: mineral, iodine and with a distillate still in the front row. You can smell the cereal in the form of Kellogg’s frosties; even a hint of yeast. And then generous hints of lemon peel to give freshness, and only later comes the yellow fruit. Melon and apricots.

P: same script. The kick is not bad, it’s compact and tasty but, forgetting its barrel composition, it doesn’t show any trace of sherry. In fact, it still seems to us very much oriented towards the distillate, with honeyed cereal, sea salt and a lot of citrus acidity (lemon). Very mineral and herbaceous. Ginger and apricot.

F: salty and citric, almonds.

The 21 we tasted was more sherry-oriented, even if in a moderate way. Here a careful selection of Oloroso and PX barrels, probably not too active, paves the way for the distillate. Which – after 17 years – get to the appointment a bit flat-footed. Perhaps the palate is the weakest phase, while the nose is certainly more intriguing with that frosty northern Highland note that – you know it well, by now – we like very much. Certainly pleasant, it deserves a taste and perhaps even the purchase: but we are not sure we would spend 80/90€ for it. 84/100.

Recommended soundtrack: Doug Hream Blunt – Caribbean Queen.

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