Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 years
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Pulteney (Wick, Scotland)

Old Pulteney is the northernmost mainland distillery in the UK on the mainland (overall, Highland Park wins out). The distillery produces a number of age statement products, a 12, 17, and 21 year old along with a number of no age statement travel retail products. The distillery is quite small overall, The town of Wick sprung up around fishing, and was the herring fishing capital of Europe resulting in a rich maritime tradition in the town – a tradition the distillery often tries to honor through its limited bottlings. The distillery is fairly small (1 million litres per annum), yet still is quite widely distributed worldwide, though bottlings can be hard to find at times.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L14 D86 R14/5122 IB 10:44

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Quite barley and malt driven, and a bit oily, with a touch of oak and apples (stewed and fresh), persimmon, hay, honey, and cedar. Overall, it’s quite light, though, and the previous ancillary flavours are light. A light influence of the dark fruitiness and spiciness – a bit like that of sherry casks, though this is made with ex-bourbon casks. There is some harsh bitterness too, at times it thankfully lifts off, but is quite detracting generally – otherwise this score would be up quite a bit.

Taste: Fairly sweet, with a simple but lovely integration of barley with a bit of wood and nuttiness and honey. Dangerously easy to drink down! There is almost a bit of corn-like grain on the end, with some green vegetal-like grainy notes too, alongside cinnamon which all throw intrigue into the mix.

Finish: Malt leads us here! Initially creaminess builds here, but then spices take over – stale cinnamon, and oaky spices and vanilla too. Quite satisfying. Light fruity notes akin to apple once again.

It seems simple, but this is an extremely satisfying malt. It changes, and is wonderfully integrated. It really does seem primed to shine with even more time in oak, as it does evidenced by the quality of the older expressions. As an aside, the bottle is very nice aesthetically- one of my favorites.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $80