Review : Old Pulteney 12 YO

Founded in 1826, the Pulteney distillery stands tall as one of the northern most distilleries on the Scottish mainland, situated in Pulteneytown, now a part of Wick. The distillery takes its name from the vicinity it was built on and the town in turn from Sir William Pulteney, who was responsible for building much of Wick.

Wick wasn’t always known for the malt produced nor the distillery, there was history before. Towards the end of the 18th and early 19th century, an abundance of herring led to the construction of the Wick Harbour and set seed to a burgeoning fishing industry. So much was maritime part of the distillery’s fabric that the distillery continues to address their expressions as a “Maritime Malt.” Starting from the barley, which at the time could only be brought in by sea, its affects on whisky maturation, and the shipment of the final aged spirits to markets near and far. Funny enough, it also wasn’t uncommon for the distillery to have hired folks that were fishermen too, the latter being the most common form of livelihood at the time.

The Pulteney distillery almost completely relies on ex-bourbon American oak barrels for much of their aging. The 12 YO expression in particular is exclusively matured in air-dried American casks, more so second-fill barrels that are aged in warehouses gently caressed by the influences of the open sea. The distillery also houses stills that are a rarity in Scotland, void of  a Swan neck, and born with worm tube condensers – giving weight to the resulting distillate.  And as unique as these stills might be, so is the aesthetics of the bottle, replicating a ‘still-like‘ design that reflects a sort of genuineness that immediately lassos the eyes!

ABV : 40%

Eye :  Old Gold  | Non Chill Filtered, Caramel colouring

Nose : Vanilla, with a touch of honey, drizzled across slices of melons, some charred wood, followed by mild earthy nuances. Sea water and bay leaves with a sprinkle of white pepper.

Taste : Freshly cut hay with a waft of citrus zest and vanilla followed through with brine; some cream, sugar cane and soil.

Finish : Short to medium | Vanilla with hints of honey, oak and the sea.

This 12 YO Pulteney is a heavy dram with a thick, oily texture and a crisp delivery on the palate. On the minus, it might not have lot to offer as the moment the whisky enters ‘senser‘ville, a limited breadth with moderate complexity is all it has going on for itself. However, on the plus, as mundane its delivery might be, the flavours are bang on, precise, crisp, clear and delightful. The oily palate isn’t so common amongst other expressions this age and the maritime flavours are just sublime.

At AUD $85, there are certainly better whiskies out there, and for the price it doesn’t have much to offer. However, not many of the others give give you a feel of the Scottish sea breeze and a delightfully chewable malt. A decent whisky that is worth the try but doesn’t flutter way beyond mediocrity.



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