Monday, August 1, 2016

Whisky Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year

Old Pulteney is one of the few mainland distilleries on the coast of Scotland north of Dornoch Firth, along with Clynelish and Wolfburn. The most unique features of the distillery, besides its location, are the shapes of its stills. It has been suggested that both appear to have been modified to fit the space of the still room - the wash still appears to have been truncated and a thin descending lyne arm grafted on, while the swan neck of the spirit still makes three 90º turns. The large boiling bulbs on both stills are given a nod in the current shape of the distillery's bottles, which also bulge out.

The 12 Year expression is composed entirely of whisky aged in ex-bourbon casks and is proofed down to 43%, probably with chill filtration and possibly with color.

Old Pulteney 12 Year

Nose: rich bourbon cask influence (caramel, vanilla, oak), gently herbal, sea air salinity, light floral and berry notes, orange peel, green apples/pears. After adding a few drops of water it becomes less mature with some green malt coming out and less cask influence showing up,

Taste: clean, sweet, creamy malt throughout, joined by mild oak tannins and herbal/floral overtones around the middle, light salinity near the back. After dilution it gets a little bit thinner, but some brighter fruit esters pop out around the middle and the sweetness turns into grassy sugarcane.

Finish: sea salt, malt, gentle oak, vanilla, floral/berry notes

Perhaps unsurprisingly given their (relatively) close proximity on the northeast Scottish coast, I get a lot of overlap with bourbon cask Clynelish malts that I've tried before. Possibly due to the spirit itself or the lower bottling proof, this is softer than the standard Clynelish 14 Year, but it still slots into the same kind of niche.

Overall I think Pulteney has managed to produce something that has the approachability of the standard Glens while giving a more engaging set of flavors and aromas. Just hold the water - this spirit has already been diluted as much as it can be.

Given that this can still be found for under $40 in many American stores, it's quickly becoming one of my prime recommendations for both new and old single malt fans. It's good enough that I can see myself buying more, which I say very infrequently of any single malt given my current preference for variety.

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