Old Pulteney is one of the smaller distilleries, despite the fact that it can make an impressive 1.8 million liters per year. It’s located in Wick, and until 2012 was the most northern distillery on the mainland. Old Pulteney is known for its oily body and brininess and fully stands up to its moniker “The Maritime Whisky” harking back both to its location and to Wick’s prominence in the herring fishing industry of yesteryear, as well as to a maritime set of flavors in the whisky. A little known interesting fact is that between 1925 and 1947 the Burgh of Wick had its own local prohibition, making the town dry for those 22 years.
The distillery is owned by Inver House, itself owned by Thai Beverage, together with Balblair, Knockdhu (AnCnoc brand), Speyburn and Balmenach.
Ran, my friend, is a bit of an OP buff, and has a beautiful selection of expressions in his home. He’s VERY selective about pours from the OP bottles (Which sit way high up out of reach), as you just can’t get them here. So when he offered that we take a look at the 21, I was honored. This is a dram with its own character, with a lovely salt and spice interplay.
The whisky was matured in fino sherry butts and bourbon casks, is natural color and somewhat oily, which is normally the product of short, stout stills. My fascination with still shapes is well known (you can read more about it here) And Pulteney has an interesting story:
You’ll notice that the top of the wash still, on the left, seems sawed off. Legend has it, that when the stills arrived from the coppersmith, the wash still was too tall to fit into the distillery, and had to have to top cut off and sealed. I wasn’t there, but it sure makes for a great story!
Old Pulteney 21 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)
Color: Copper, thin legs.
Nose: Big spice on the nose, fino sherry, there’s some lacticity there though nowhere near what you’d expect to find in a Bruichladdich, and a little toward the cheesey side, salt and as it settles, the sultana raisins get more pronounced.
Palate: Salt and pepper, sherry and sultana raisins, sweet berries and some lacticity in a mouth filling oily liquid.
Linger: Long and peppery, with some sweetness, somewhat like the linger of a cheescake with berry drizzle.
This is a very maritime whisky, with the which is clearly the character of the distillery. The combination of the brine with the spice and sherry works extremely well. As I mentioned, Inver House brands are not imported to Israel, so again I wish to thank Ran for sharing this beauty with me.