What can I say about Old Pulteney that I didn’t say in my review of the 17 year? I promise not to talk about Jim Murray… oops.
Old Pulteney 12 year is aged only in ex-bourbon casks, and can be found (with a little hunting) for $32 a bottle, although recent fame caused by the attentions of the aforementioned author have driven up prices of the entire OP range (even the NAS Navigator). You may have to pay $42.
Nose: Everyone always says ‘salty’ when talking about OP. To me, it smells more like a heavily vegetal tequila. Seaweed, cooked cactus (nopales), lime peel, and a hint of vanilla. All of the aromas are robust – nothing light about this whisky.
Palate: Salted caramel, roasted chestnuts, a sticky, industrial grime (a little like the ‘dirty’ flavor of Springbank), like grimy pennies.
Finish: Some sweetness arrives, dry taffy, shortbread cookies. The finish gets grassy again, but without any bitterness. Ends on the woody side.
With Water: Water adds a tart note, a more distinct lime peel or even key lime pie, to the nose and makes the finish slightly sweeter. Some water can’t hurt.
Overall: Somewhat of a rollercoaster of unique flavors and aromas, paired with off-putting and off-seeming notes like grimy pennies. It’s a bit like a woodsier, grassier, more tequila-like variant of Springbank. Very little sweetness, this is almost more of an aperitif or digestif than a dessert drink, although missing the bitter herbs. I would seek out a taste of this before committing to a bottle, even if you’re a Springbank fan. It’s just not for everybody.