Old Pulteney 12 Yr: 43% abv
This is a Single Malt Scotch, and quite a wonderful one. Sorry not to leave you in anticipation, but I didn’t want to wait. This is the most northern distillery on the main land of Scotland, which sits in Pulteneytown near Wick Bay. Ahh! That’s why they have the boat theme going on here. What does location matter in a whisky review? It turns out to be a really important thing. Coastal spirits generally take on a more salty, seawater characteristic, where valley whiskies have more of a fresh taste to them, which fresh valley water attributes too. Do you want evidence that this matters? Old Pulteney 12 Yr would shout that to you. Here is some tasting notes:
On the nose, you get an instant, light graininess to the whisky, with malt barley right up front, some lemon-type citrus, and with our long intro about water sources foreshadowing to this, saltiness! Yes, there is salt and brininess to this, with some seaweed on the nose as well, but there is sweetness as well: sugarcane type sweetness, and a very slight hint of honeydew. There is slight spiciness, and a dry yeast on the nose well. The nose is quite complex, and feeds more in after water, adding some more sea water smell, light dry mint, and other dry herbs and fruits into the nose. When you finally try the whisky, you might be surprised at how personable it is.
It does start salty on the arrival, but gives you the malt that you love in your Scotch, with some interesting ginger spice and seaweed. After water, you’ll find the arrival sweeter, with an addition of wheaty grain notes and a smooth palate. The body gives you a great blast of sweet barley, briny salt, even some slight peat. Interestingly, this isn’t a complex body before you put some water in it, but after, more starts to come out. You’ll get some heather honey, more malt, pepper and allspice, mint leaves, and even some light herb and spice notes as well. The finish is complex as well, with similar notes to the body, but adding some molasses, powdered sugar, hay and sherry, wheat, sweet cinnamon, peat, pepper, and a slight dryness.
It is a medium finish, so not terribly impressive, but gives off some great notes and differences, and the introduction of sherry into the finish is really enjoyable. Overall, this is a complex and different Scotch, and we think it to be light-years ahead of other Scotches in the same price range. The saltiness shouldn’t deter you from this, as it is compelling and not overbearing. We highly recommend this, and at $40 a bottle, it should be a Single Malt staple for anybody looking for something refreshing and wonderful. At 43% and a natural looking color, this hits all the right marks. Highly recommended.