I do love trying something different. Over the years I’ve come across many a gem, whether it’s in the spirits, beer or wine world. Some stick in your head, some your forget about and wonder why when they re-appear. Old Pulteney does just that to me. I’ve had this brand many a time, but never owned a bottle, and never think about it when talking whisky, despite being a name you have all probably heard of.
Well i think it’s a bout time we give the brand a proper chance.
Old Pulteney was founded back in 1826 by a gentleman named James Henderson at the height of the town of Wick’s celebrated herring boom, located at the most northerly on the British mainland, the home of Sir William Pulteney back in 1810. In those days, road link weren’t as common, so they relied on the sea to transport their barrels of silver (herring) and gold (whisky). Another unique point to the whisky brand comes in the shape of its still. Instead of the usual ‘swans neck’ that you see in most distilleries, legend has it that Old Pulteney, when they were installing it, found it was too tall for the still house, so the manager simply decided to cut the top off! In recognition of this, the Old Pulteney bottle incorporates a bulbous neck to reflect the shape of the stills.
1920 saw the distillery bought by James Watson & Co, but only three years later saw Buchanan-Dewar take over and become a part of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in 1925. During times of trouble in the industry, the distillery closed in 1930 for the next 21 years when a solicitor named Robert Cumming acquired the company. Between 1955 and 1995, the distillery went under the ownership of James & George Stodart Ltd (1955), Allied Breweries (1961), Inverhouse Distillers (1995) and International Beverages Holdings (2001), with the distillery also getting a face-lift in 1958.
So although it has changed hands a couple of times, has the quality of the whisky suffered? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Matured in ex-bourbon casks. Rather dry on the nose with aromas of fruit and vanilla slowly making an appearance. Again quite dry on the palate, with hints of salt and smoke initially and becomes rather bitter at the end.
Old Pulteney 17yr – 46%
Matured in Spanish Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks. Sweet nose of white fruit and butter with a scent of wood on the nose. Rounded hits of vanilla on the palate with the white fruit more delicate on the long finish.
Old Pulteney 21yr – 46%
A good hit of pear and apple on the nose with a little spice following nicely. Sweet on the palate with flavours of vanilla and honey making its presence. Dry finish.
And part of the Old Pulteney ‘Lighthouse’ Series –
Old Pulteney Noss Head – 46%
Matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Light lemons and oranges on the nose, Sweet on the palate with a good dose of spice that develops into a warm finish of orange and coconut.
Old Pulteney Duncansby Head – 46%
Matured in ex-bourbon casks and Spanish ex-sherry casks. Sweet honey and a hint of chocolate orange on the nose. Smooth and soft on the palate, with the sherry oak coming through before being displaced by the orange and chocolate flavours. Lingers.
Old Pulteney Pentland Skerries – 46%
Matured in Spanish ex-sherry butts. Lots of fresh raisin and chocolate on the nose which carries on to the palate, adding flavours of sherry and subtle spice to the mix to draw out a long finish.
Some great expressions, and rather hard to choose between for which could be my favourite. There’s a 30yr, an Old Pulteney Liqueur and WK217 to try yet, so you never know, this could be the first time where I could be enjoying them all in my collection. Care to help me find out for yourself?
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