Color: Florentine gold. A reddish, light amber hue to the liquid in the bottle suggesting some sherry cask maturation, yet a lighter, more yellow gold in the glass which screams ex-bourbon cask maturation.
Nose: vanilla and honey mixing with coastal salt air, black pepper, anise and apple. A bizarre cross of sweet and savory, like custard and chicken soup.
Palate: mouthfeel is light and smooth; there is no burn at all from the moderate alcohol level. Barley malt with a hint of brine, then a big hit of honey, mellow vanilla and hints of allspice and anise which remain on the tongue for a fairly long and almost creamy finish.
The bottle offers us this simple tasting note: “sweet with vanilla and floral notes.” I really don’t get much of anything fruity or floral at all from this whisky, which according to The Whisky Exchange is predominately (90%) ex-bourbon casked whisky and 10% European oak ex-olorosso and PX sherry casked whiskies. The color in the fuller bottles reflects the small percentage of former sherry casked whisky, as does the allspice on the palate. Beyond that, though, this is a bourbon cask dominated dram with strong enough flavors to satisfy anyone not insisting on cask strength whisky.
The 17 Years has been retired from Old Pulteney’s core product line and some small retail supplies are still available if one is prepared to hunt a bit for it. At a price under $135 USD, it is a very good buy and I have seen it as high as $149.00 in early 2019. I expect secondary market pricing to take the acquisition cost upwards as supplies continue to dwindle. It is a very nice whisky and should be in the cabinet of anyone who appreciates a well matured coastal whisky, of which this is a fine example. It will be missed.