Mar 312015

I tasted this excellent expression at the Whisky Show in London, but didn’t get to take down my tasting notes for it. Happily, it featured in the VIP lounge at Whisky Live Tel Aviv 2015, and this time I got the notes.

I like Old Pulteney whiskys, although I have not yet tasted their whole NAS travel retail range, and have reviewed the core range (you’ll find the 12, 17, and 21 by clicking each number) and liked each of them, with a special liking for the 17 year old.

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The idea here is simple, Old Pulteney new make matured in a peated cask. Now you say “OK, this was done before” thinking, of course, of the somewhat strange Balvenie 17 year old Peated Cask which came out in 2010. Then you look at the Old Pulteney bottle and do the math….

Anyway, Old Pulteney took ex bourbon and ex sherry casks which held peated whisky (this is 1990, so they came from without the Inver-House group, which now has casks from the AnCnoc peated whiskys), with at least one of these casks also making its way to Balblair (later to become the 1990 Islay Cask 1466 single cask release), and released a 900 case (8100 bottle, assuming they’re 9 bottle cases) Limited edition of this outstanding whisky.

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Old Pulteney Limited Edition 1990 Vintage (46% ABV, NCF)

Appearance: Light gold with thick and rather quick legs.

Nose: Totally Old Pulteney with heather, honey, salt, light peat but just a bit of it and the nose gets sweeter with time.

Palate: Honey, more peat here than on the nose, pepper and salt with some fizz on the tongue. Excellent mouth feel.

Linger: Leaves an peaty tang, and the finish is salty, sweet and peated. The linger is very long and enjoyable dissipating into the signature saltiness.


Good stuff, really good stuff. While this is by no means a peated whisky, the peated cask adds a nice smoky dimension to the already excellent 23 year old spirit. This is an excellent, well crafted expression.





Feb 082015

This review completes my reviews of the Old Pulteney core expressions. I have previously reviewed the Old Pulteney 21 and the fabulous 17 year old, and have now come to the entry level 12.

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Of all the monikers distilleries adopt, I think that Old Pulteney’s “The Maritime Malt” is the most fitting. The salt is ever present throughout the core range, and the sea is truly part of the DNA of this distillery.

The 12 year old  is a good expression to introduce the distillery style, and is overall a nice basic entry level expression. I would venture to say, though, that Inver house should take a page out of the Burn Stewart playbook, and stop chill filtration, the use of artificial coloring and up the ABV to 46%. I think that would catapult this expression far beyond the “nice” into the “stellar” category.

Old Pulteney 12 (40% ABV)

Appearance: Deep gold, slow and thin legs with residue.

Nose: Honey, heather, salt, a note of cereal, sherry, sea breeze, cinnamon. The salt gets stronger on the nose with time, as do the sherry notes.

Palate: Honey with notes of sherry sweetness, pepper, shortcake (sans the strawberries), wood spices (clove and nutmeg) and the lightest saltiness.

Linger: The sweetness and spiciness linger for a long while, with cereal appearing in the latter part of the linger. The spice is felt both on the tongue and in the back of the throat, with sherry dryness on the inside of the cheeks.


This is a very good entry level expression, which could easily be tweaked into perfection. Nevertheless, I really like Old Pulteney core expressions, and would gladly enjoy a dram of them.

Oct 302014

I’ve had several Old Pulteneny’s outside the core range, but the heart of the distillery, its seaside fishing village DNA, comes through in the core range which consists of the 12, 17, 21 and the relatively new 35, which I recently tasted at The Whisky Show.

Photo Credit: Old Pulteney on Facebook

In my review of the Old Pulteney 21, I mentioned the curious shape of the sawed off still, and the possible effect it might have on the spirit. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the local council in Wick imposed a prohibition on the sale of alcohol in the parish in 1922, and by 1930 the distillery had to close. It didn’t reopen until 1951.

This dram was shared with me by my friend Ran, a total Pulteney buff, and a great whisky aficionado! Slainte!


Old Pulteney 17 (46% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Light straw, slow legs and there are a lot of droplets that remain on the sides.

Nose: Vanilla, brine, pepper, honey and notes of orange-ginger marmalade.

Palate: The sweetness of honey comes in first, then a wave of salt with pepper with notes of vanilla and light citrus.

Linger: The salt and pepper divide up your mouth, with salt taking over the tongue and the pepper owning your throat. It’s a fascinating finish.


This is the rough sea salt and crushed peppercorns you rub on your steak before popping it on the grill.

This might be the best of the cores, but my jury is still out on that  🙂



Jul 262014

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:

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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!


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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.