While there are plenty of single malts on the market today that are pushing the envelope in terms of price point, even when it comes to entry-level malts, there are still those that continue to surprise us in regards to flavor but more importantly in regards to price point. Old Pulteney 12-year-old is simply one of those whiskies. It’s matured solely in ex-Bourbon casks and is the flagship malt for the distillery. This is another joint review with my friend Phil over at Bargain Bourbon.
Established in 1826 by James Henderson in the heart of the ‘Pulteneytown’ area of Wick, the Old Pulteney distillery is the most northern distillery on the Scottish mainland. Wick itself used to be quite a vibrant fishing port. A surge in herring fishing in the early 19th century drew in thousands of workers and eventually led to the development of the distillery itself.
Like Wick, Old Pulteney has seen its fair share of ups and downs – Ownership of the distillery has passed through the hands of many, and even closed during troubled times in the 1930s. Fortunately, Old Pulteney reopened its doors and resumed production of this ‘maritime malt’ post the repeal of prohibition. Old Pulteney was purchased by Inver House Distillers in 1995 and still uses traditional production methods to make its line of single malt whiskies.
One of the most interesting aspects of Old Pulteney is their unconventional stills, the wash still especially due to its lack of a ‘swan neck’ and flat top. Story has it that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the still house and the manager simply decided to cut off the top. Both the wash and spirit stills have large boil bulbs (reflux bowls) that contribute to the production of Old Pulteney’s fairly oily new make spirit. The bottles used by the distillery are very reminiscent of their stills.
Price: Approx $35/750ml
Nose: Bright, fruity and lightly floral – Apple, pear, vanilla, paraffin, honey, some light coastal qualities – brine, seas air – honeysuckle now and caramel.
Palate: Slightly oily mouthfeel and again full of fresh fruits and light floral qualities – Apple, honey, sweet grain, brine, ginger, caramel and just a touch of citrus.
Finish: Moderate with ginger and sea-sprayed fruits.
Overall this Pulteney is aligned quite nicely with its aromas and makes for a great ‘anytime sipper.’ Its coastal influences also make it an excellent introductory whisky for those wishing to branch off into something a little different but still want to stay in the light and fruity side of single malts. It also shows just how broad of a range there is in regards to Highland whiskies.