Old Pulteney 40yo bottled at 51.3% ABV – the oldest Pulteney bottled to date!


Highland region – 51.3% ABV – 493 bottles – £1399 (or £85 for a dram at Master of Malt)

Forty years old.  This whisky is forty years old.

It’s a strange thing to drink a whisky that is older than you.  Perhaps what’s even more strange to me is that I will be turning forty this year.  It’s actually really messing with me that I’ll be forty.  Half way to 80 as it were.  Ugh.

I don’t feel forty so, that’s good, right?  They say you’re as old as you feel, right?  Well, when I think about what happened ten years ago I think about the early 90’s.  Not the early 00’s.  That’s a bit disconcerting and makes me feel old and a bit disconnected from the new and hip things of the world.

All of my heroes are getting old too!  (I.E. Ian Mackaye just turned 51, Jello Biafra is 54, Willie Nelson *just* turned 80.)

Hold on a sec, I seem to be typing myself into a bit of a depressing cul-de-sac here…

Mayhaps it’s best we talk about fun things?  Let’s talk about a 40 year old that is way sexier than I’ll ever be.  Yup, this Old Pulteney is one sexy beast.

On the nose –  Wow.  Just wow-wow-wow.  Initial thought?  Screw nosing and tasting notes, this smells as lovely as can be and all I want to do is stop thinking and enjoy this whisky.  The age is there yet it’s lively and juicy and moreish smelling right from the go.  Yum.

I suppose I should try to dissect it though – try and get the most out of this and give it the respect it deserves.  Begin:

OLD-PULTENEY-40-1Orange essential oil and savory herbs meets paraffin and the tiniest hint of smoke and what is really tough to explain: the smell of time in a cask.

Let me try to pick it out the time in the cask (good time in a cask, not tiring/tired time)…

OLD-PULTENEY-40-2Cedar humidors meets old time men’s cologne meets an old study with fine polished wood and leather chairs.  Now take those scents and remove the old and tired element from that scenario and there you have it!

Apple slices with cinnamon and orange with touches of clove, filberts and ground nutmeg on the side.  Boy, this is really lovely and very hard not to taste!

On the mouth – Very drying upon first sip but the second sip corrects that misstep.  Quite ooey with orange syrup, cinnamon and hints of molasses.

OLD-PULTENEY-40-3Salted black licorice and more of the spiced wood and wood polish element I touched upon with the nosing.

I can’t tell if it’s honied or it’s the mouthfeel that’s tricking me into thinking it’s honied.  Nah, it *IS* honied and it’s delicious.

OLD-PULTENEY-40-4Rhubarb jam/pie filling, moist pie crust.

Finish – Toasted almond slivers and dark chocolates.  It lasts and lasts.

In sum – This has to be up there in the category of best of 2013 (best whiskies I tasted in 2013, that is).

This is oh-so-good and obviously, at almost £1400 a bottle, one to break out at the most special of occasions.

Special thanks to LD of Alembic for the sample!!

Exclusive Malts Ardmore Single Cask, 2000, 12yo 56.3% ABV


Highland Region – 56.3% ABV – About $100, US market only

ARDMORETrying to get back on the horse here with my whisky reviews.  I really have a lot in the pipeline to cover.  Thankfully I’ll be traveling quite a bit less this month so with hope, luck and a bit of work, I’ll be reviewing more during May.

I had received five Exclusive Malts samples from ImpEx and reviewed the 15yo Clynelish here, the 17yo Mortlach here and the 11yo Bowmore here.

Thanks again to the good folks at ImpEx for the samples!

The last two Exclusive Malt bottlings are a Glenlivet from 1976 and today’s Ardmore from 2000.  A 12yo single cask that I am guessing is from a refill bourbon barrel based on the pale color.

215px-Shyguy_MP9On the nose –  A bit of a shy guy, this one here.  Take deep whiffs with this one.  Don’t worry, it’s not hot to nose at all so you can really breathe it in.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-1Clean smoke meets rusty steel.  This relents quickly to reveal the smell of my Grandpa John’s mostly unused pipe collection – gah, the memories!  That house in Fairfield in the 70’s…  Such great times.

This is all china cabinets and basement crawlway spaces — places you rarely go but when you do, there’s a reason you went.

Hints of wild flowers and drought-stricken grass fields where the electrical wires go on and on and on.  Hike around the woods of Connecticut long enough and you get used to this sort of stuff.

I’m not sure if you can you tell but this whisky is bringing back tons of memories for me.

On the mouth – Much more smokey than the nose lead on to be.  Also, she’s no longer shy.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-2Lots of pear and fruit elements to it.

This make be 12 years old but she drinks like a much younger whisky.  Me?  I sort of like that!

Note: this image is from the Glenfiddich spirit safe, not Ardmore. Try as I might, I oculd not find an image of the Ardmore spirit safe!

The spirit character seems to shine through here as it’s all about the heavy smoke, pears, malt and, very prominent new make-y-ness to this whisky.

It’s not overly complex but enjoyable.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-4Finish – Cheap penny candies but mostly, Fortune Gum gum.

In sum – I am a fan of Teacher’s blend and Ardmore is the obvious smokey element.  This reminds me of why I like Teacher’s.  I am not a fan of the Ardmore Traditional Cask but this I like.

This is a whisky I’d keep in a flask and go on a long hike with.

Keys to the Clan – 50ml mini bottles of Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Yosef Yitzak ben Fievel Ephraim v’Dinah Sarah haCohen.  Yup, that’s my Hebrew Name.

Basically is says/means:

Yosef Yitzak (Me) ben (son of) Fievel Ephraim (father) v’ (and) Dinah Sarah (mother) haCohen (of the priestly tribe; a descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses.  Yes THE Moses.)

While my Hebrew name, heritage and bloodline has nothing to do with whisky, I mention it as there is a connection to how Jews identify as being part of a tribe and how Scots identify as being part of a clan and having a particular tartan that represents their clan.

So we’re not talking about 50ml mini whisky bottles for the 12 tribes of Israel.  No, we’re here to discuss something that makes a little more sense when it come to single malt SCOTCH whisky:  Keys to the Clan — a 48 bottle collection of 48 different Scottish Clans.  Scottish pride, heritage and tartans, people!!

While I can’t say I can claim any right as a Clansman of one of the many, many Scottish clans, I can surely understand ones identification and pride to be part of ones given clan (or tribe in my case).

Are you Scottish with perhaps the last name of Campbell, Johnstone, Keith, Douglas, Davidson, Murray, Mitchell, Young, etc, etc., etc… ?  Well, I may make you a happy person right now in telling you that you can get a fine little mini filled with 8yo single malt (distillery unknown), bottled at 40% ABV, with your clan name and tartan on the bottle!  Perfect for nipping on, or perhaps a wedding, stocking stuffers and more.

Here is a list of the 48 Clan bottles:


It’s a very cool idea that is *just* starting here in the US and is being imported by ImpEx.  If you have interest in these minis, you should be able to get your hands on some from The Whisky Shop San Francisco.

Review to follow in the coming days…

Exclusive Malts – Bowmore 11yo – 53.6% ABV


BowmoreIslay region – 53.6% ABV– US only — Price: unknown at this point.

Day 3 of my Exclusive Malts reviews.

On this day we travel to Islay to visit the Bowmore distillery, one of Islay’s most beautiful distilleries.

Most of my favorite bottlings of Bowmore are independent bottlings (a great example was Master of Malt’s 26yo Bowmore – holy crap, that was an amazing, amazing, amazing whisky).

Let’s see how this one plays into the I-prefer-indy-Bowmore-bottlings-playbook…

Bowmore-1On the nose –  Big, smoky, meaty with hints of spent match sticks and balsamic vinegar.

Damp and smoldering (?) cardboard and, deep in the background, UK parma violets, lavender and chrysanthemums.

Burning tires and hints of chicory.   Balsamic reduction and beef ribs and spent cigars.

Bowmore-2This is a big man, male chauvinist pig of a whisky.  In an Archie Bunker sorta way, I dig it so far!

On the mouth – Damp wood, earthy forest floor, farmyard barn on a rainy spring day.

Bowmore-3No heat at all and a great mouth feel!  Campfires and damp tents.  Wow, this is truly yummers.

Chocolate covered pastrami on rye. Like the sandwich has been bronzed in chocolate.

If you could bronze with chocolate (I guess it’d just be called “chocolated” then, right?)…

Bowmore-4Boozed raisins, dates and sulphured figs.

Finish – More of the sulphured figs (add to that apricot).

In sum – Please don’t be scared of this word “sulphured” as this is not a sulphur-y whisky.  Go to your local health food store and buy sulphured dried fruit.  You’ll see what I’m talking about.

This is a massive whisky that has the digestive feel of a fernet branca.  End on a good note, end your evening with this one.

Thanks again to the folks at ImpEx for the sample!

Exculsive Malts – Mortlach 17yo – 53.3% ABV


MortlachSpeyside region – 53.3%ABV – US only — Price: unknown at this point.

Day two of the Exclusive Malts reviews.

Interestingly enough, after having my little fun with the term “nut skin” yesterday, two people unsubscribed from my posts.  As sad as this is, I gained three new subscribers and a few very nice emails.

Please know that on occasion, in addition to having fun reviewing whisky, I have fun using the humor of my inner nine year old boy.  Sorry if this offends some but, hey ho, I’ll keep doing what I do and will be ever thankful for all of you out there enjoying my posts.

Speaking of “doing what I do,” I’ll move on with my review of this 17yo Mortlach:

Mortlach-1On the nose –  I’m struck first by the scents of bruised apples and apple cider vinegar.  It’s quite present and tough to get past (thankfully, I’m enjoying those notes).

Freshly kneaded dough with a high yeast content and highly sugared cereals.  Speaking of cereal, I’m reminded of a fine muesli and golden raisins, too.

Hot cinnamon and apple sauce (currently warming apple sauce).  Grilled lemons.

Mortlach-2With water it gets a bit more savory with touches of baked tomatoes.

Mortlach-3On the mouth – Thinnish mouthfeel with a keen focus on the malt character of the whisky.  Honied water and just a hint of smoke in the background.

Cracked white pepper or, is it just peppery?  Hmmm…

Mortlach-4Rubber party balloons (or balloon animals), lemon fizzy candies and well, that’s about it I’m afraid.  So far, the nose wins out.  Let me add some water to see if it opens this one up…

Water adds a great amount of texture to the mouthfeel of this whisky and begins to align the nose with the flavors.  Adding water to this whisky was a good choice.

After about 20 minutes, it now, in an odd way, reminds me of Redbreast 12yo Cask Strength.

Finish – A surprisingly long finish filled with fruits and again that touch of smoke.

In sum – While not as approachable or easily dissected as the Clynelish I reviewed yesterday, a bit of patience and water pays off.  This would be a good whisky to have as part of a tasting.  Compare this to some other Mortlachs.  It’s an odd duck out from others that I’ve had but for those up to a challenge, this can be a good dose of fun!