Old Pulteney - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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11th October 2013
The first rule about appreciating a fine whisky is: there is no right or wrong way to drink it. Everybody has their own little ways, enjoys whisky at different times and from different glassware. We've seen our whisky served with mixers or over ice. Our goal is not to change your drinking habits but to give you a tool to perhaps see your favourite Old Pulteney whisky in a new light.
Glassware is more important than it may seem at first. A good glass will concentrate aromas at the top helping you to nose your whisky. It should be comfortable to drink from, easy to hold and it doesn't hurt if it looks good too. Generally we recommend the well-known Glencairn glass for most Old Pulteney drinkers but we will tell you a bit more about whisky glasses next week.
You probably know this already but a bigger dram is generally better. As your whisky will develop in the glass over time, it's better to pour a double than two consecutive singles. Although remember that we encourage you to savour Old Pulteney responsibly.
Once your whisky is in the glass, take it to the light and assess the colour. By now you surely know why Old Pulteney 17 Year Old is slightly lighter than Old Pulteney 21 Year Old? Age and type of casks used in maturation both play a role here.
This is the most important part. Bring the glass to your nose, tilt it towards you and take a deep breath. Keep your mouth slightly open and close your eyes. When thinking about words to describe the aroma, start with the more general feel and then narrow down, for example: it's sweet – it's a fruity sweetness – it's apples – it's red apples – it's ripe red apples. And remember, everybody's sense of smell is slightly different so don't be discouraged if you can't pick some of the notes we suggest – those are just pointers, it's up to you to do the actual assessment.
Finally, time to taste. Take a tiny sip at first, coat your mouth with the delicious flavour and then take a slightly bigger one. Now chew your whisky for a few seconds, allow the flavours to open up. When it starts stinging a bit, swallow away.
What's happening now is called the finish. The taste that's left in your mouth after you've had a sip will transform and linger for quite a long time. Pay attention to it, you'll be surprised how much can be learned about your drink at this stage.
Add water to your dram. Don't listen to people who say there is already enough water in it, that's just sailor-talk. Our Master Blender and Distillery Manager always add plenty of water to their samples. For your purposes a couple of drops will do. Water tends to 'open up' a dram and brings out some of the sweeter, fruity and citrusy aromas. It also takes some of the sting off the more potent whiskies.
Trying two or three whiskies alongside each other is a great idea. We do it all the time. But remember that while your nose is a real workhorse, your palate tends to get tired very easily and will be confused by lingering flavours. Try to avoid spicy or otherwise intense food before a whisky tasting and cleanse your palate in between drams with water or, better still, black coffee.