Monthly Archives: June 2017

Farewell to Old Pulteney 17yo and 21yo


Old Pulteney Vertical

Two weeks ago (June 2017) I saw a tweet recommending that people (with deep enough pockets) should snap up bottles of Old Pulteney’s 21 years old expression as it was due to be discontinued. Whilst distilleries are often changing up their releases, the 21yo has been a staple Old Pulteney release for some time and, as their marketing reminds us, won the coveted title of being Jim Murray’s whisky of the year just a few years ago in his 2012 edition of the whisky bible. I was a little dubious to say the least. 24 hours later, not only was this discontinuation confirmed by Old Pulteney, but it was also confirmed that their 17 years old expression was also being discontinued. Shocker!

Old Pulteney have confirmed that whilst these aged expressions are due to disappear – with the 21yo disappearing straight away and the 17yo running out by mid 2018 – they will be looking to replace them with similarly aged whiskies. Maybe they’ll go for the more traditional 15 and 18 yo releases? Maybe 15 and 20? Presumably the decision is based on shortage of supply and all the liquids going towards maintaining the sales of the younger more affordable and higher demand expressions. What I hope they do not do however – and I doubt that they would – is compromise on the flavour profiles. With that in mind here are some quick fire notes on a recent Old Pulteney vertical tasting, including the two departing drams.

OP Navigator: I should start off by saying that I’m not really going into this blind and with a regular OP12 sat in the whisky cabinet, there are some expectations to be met. That said, there is some sweetness and that distinctive OP saltiness to the nose and taste. Vanilla and a bit of spice but not so much in the way of flavour that the other OPs offer but it’s still got that salty fresh taste. Much of a muchness by comparison though unfortunately.

OP12: Hello old friend! There’s the fuller-bodied creaminess, butterscotch richness and sweetness with that “maritime malt” finish. Superb. See our triple-header review here.

OP17: Sherbet fresh citrus and sweetness hits you straight away. I was expecting the extra 5 years to intensify the flavours but this is surprisingly light but leaves a really lingering flavour. Nominal burn from the booze too. The sweetness beautifully mellows out on the long finish.

OP21: Well this is surprisingly lighter again. More fruity flavours in this – think apples and pears, rather than oranges or bananas! Is there a little smoke in this too? [Wow, the booze must have been setting in by this point!] Not as great as the 17 but still pretty bloody fantastic.

OP35: Maybe I’ll never know. Looming untouched and out of bounds in a cool, if not corny, presentation casket with the ongoing Old Pulteney nautical motif, complete with glass and brass portholes. Maybe one day.


Old Pulteney Tasting Notes

As noted above, I’ve got a lot of love for the Old Pulteney expressions, and whilst somewhat disappointed by the NAS Navigator release, I will be very interested to see what comes in to replace these two absolute beauties. My recommendation would be that you’d best try and stock up whilst you can and keep those fingers crossed for the future…

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Tasting Notes: Redbreast – 12 Years Old


Redbreast 12 Years Old

Crafted at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Redbreast is recognised worldwide as the flag bearer of Irish pot still whiskey. The 12 years old expression is the brand’s staple release and the distinctive squat green bottle with its red and gold packaging can be seen adorning the shelves of any well stocked pub, bar or hotel (assuming that their stockist has looked beyond just your usual Jameson’s or Bushmills for their Irish whiskey source). The spirit is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, before being triple distilled in copper pot stills and then being primarily matured in sherry casks for its designated 12+ years. The whiskey is available in regular bottling (40% ABV) and periodical cask strength versions  (57-59% ABV) and has won numerous titles and medals throughout the years. Here, we happily take on the regular release (40% ABV).


A soft but rich nose with lots of fruity flavours, like currants and oranges and a little spiciness.

Really quite sweet flavours. The dried fruits from the initial nose are complemented with fresh, sweet caramel and vanilla flavours.


Soooo smooth. The fruit flavours leave for a melted vanilla ice cream coating on the threat – like a boozy cola float.

When people say, “I like such-and-such a whisky, because it is nice and smooth” then this will blow their minds and reset the bar for what “smooth” really means. That’s what it did for me, anyway. I knew that Irish whiskey was more renowned for its triple distillation and “creamy mouthfeel” but this is just something else. And that’s not taking into account the nice sherried fruit flavours and velvety sweetness. Definitely one to be savoured at the end of the evening, regardless of the season or occasion, and one that can easily be appreciated by whiskey drinkers old and new.



Whiskey and Celebrations

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Tasting Notes: Lagavulin – 16 Years Old

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin is widely recognised as one of the leading names in whisky throughout the globe and regularly falls within the same breath as its fellow southern Islay neighbours Laphroaig and Ardbeg. The 16 year old is the core expression of Lagavulin and has (deservedly) garnered cult status amongst whisky fans and peatheads worldwide. Each facet of the dram is distinctive and should be savoured.

ABV: 43%


M: It’s hard to describe without using its own name – its simply, big Lagavulin smoke.

R: So I get a real outdoorsy smell from this. Like a camp fire.With like a caramel-ishness.



M: Caramel sweetness and big rich, fruity flavours at first that are then instantly battered by full malty smoke and oak.

R: I find it kind of evaporates on the tongue very quickly, then fills your mouth with smoky deliciousness.


M: Brown sugar sweetness upfront and then the smoke builds and builds as it coats the throat on the way down, leaving a peppery spiciness in the smoky aftermath.

R: It’s like it’s light and delicate but simultaneously potent and powerful.


M: Amazing. It’s hard to describe as it’s just distinctly Lagavulin. Regardless of whether or not you like smoky whiskies, one encounter with this dram and you can understand why it has cult status. “Mother’s milk” as Ron Swanson would put it.

R: Final verdict, for me, it’s not an every day kind of whisky. It’s the sort of thing you need to be in the right mood for. It’s an evening in front of the fire, with dressing gowns and cigars and a leather bound book kind of drink. One other point. I had a bit of a sinus headache when I poured the glass. It’s gone now.


Lagavulin Bay

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