The oldest bottling of Old Pulteney to date has been matured in American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks, and was personally bottled by distillery manager Malcolm Waring. The nose of this highly accomplished veteran is fragrant and waxy, with cooking apples, milk chocolate orange, Christmas spices, vanilla, and fudge. Initially, the substantial palate offers spicy fresh fruits, seasoned timber, then a hint of brine, with sultanas and plain chocolate. The finish is figgy, gingery, and sherried. £1,490
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Old Pulteney), 35 year old, 1969 vintage, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $200.00
Surprisingly fresh - sanguine even - for its age, and appetizingly aromatic. Fairly light and approachable in body, but always inspiring and pithy. Notes of fresh, seabreeze brine, teasing exotic spices, and tangerine are softened by gently creamy malt notes and hints of coconut and almond. Very delicious and enjoyable anytime.
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection (distilled at Old Pulteney), cask #06/125, 1994 vintage, 45%
Single Malt Scotch | $100.00
Finished in sauternes wood. I really love how the appetizing notes of Pulteney marry with the sweet notes of the sauternes wine cask. Light-medium in body, but good viscosity. Fresh brine throughout, with honey-drenched melon fruit, pineapple in syrup, citrus, and a hint of cotton candy and lightly toasted marshmallow. A delicious marriage of two high-caliber drinks categories.
WK209 is named after a steam herring drifter registered in the Caithness port of Wick, where Old Pulteney is distilled. This limited edition, travel retail exclusive was matured entirely in first fill European oak sherry casks for 8 to 10 years. Milk chocolate, crème brûlée, old leather, and sherry on the nose, contrasting with brine. Sherry, dried fruits, black pepper, English mustard, and sea salt on the full palate. Spicy sherry, heather, and black coffee in the luxurious finish. €50
This is the second travel retail-exclusive expression of Old Pulteney to use the registration of a Wick fishing vessel in its name, in this case the Isabella Fortuna, a herring drifter dating from 1890. This expression bears no age statement and was matured in bourbon casks. Floral and fragrant on the nose, with honey, vanilla, zest of lemon, and a hint of salt. The palate features fresh fruit salad, coconut, and sherbet liveliness. Summery. Medium length in the spicy finish. £35 (1 liter)
WK217 is the latest in Pulteney’s Travel Retail-exclusive range of releases named after the registrations of fishing vessels. This expression has been matured in a mix of Spanish and American oak sherry butts. Fig rolls, black treacle, sultanas, and a hint of cinnamon on the nose. Finally, milk chocolate. Smooth and oily on the palate, with soft spices, before deeper and darker sherry notes arrive. The finish is relatively long, with sherry and spice, then final spiky licorice notes. £40 (liter)
An unusual vintage bottling of Old Pulteney, in that maturation occurred in a mix of American bourbon casks and Spanish sherry casks that previously held heavily-peated whisky. The nose opens with a whiff of ozone; then lemon, vanilla, and coconut appear, along with fleeting wood smoke. Intense tropical fruitiness merges with milk chocolate, lemon sorbet, and lively spices on the palate. Spicy milk chocolate with a citric and softly peaty tang in the finish.
Old Pulteney’s 40 year old comprises spirit from three sherry hogsheads and one bourbon barrel. Just 493 bottles of the distillery’s oldest expression to date have been released, offered at cask strength and not chill filtered. The nose is soft and fragrant, with peaches in syrup, toffee, cinnamon, and aerosol wood polish. Early intense orchard fruits on the palate, then nutmeg, cinnamon and black coffee. Long in the finish, with spicy oak tannins and Seville orange. Notably drying.
Navigator honors Old Pulteney’s seafaring heritage and promotional links with matters marine. The expression carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and has been matured in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks. The nose features vanilla, sherry, American cream soda, ginger, orange peel, and cocoa powder. Complex. Mouth-tingling spices: ginger and nutmeg on the palate, with more oranges, and cocoa. Dries slowly, slightly powdery, with persistent citrus fruit, and a hint of brine. Value Pick.
In one word: exotic. In some respects, it is reminiscent of a very old column-distilled Jamaican rum, and a lot of the wood spices really express themselves. Like the Compass Box whisky above, this whisky again proves that grain whiskies should not be ignored. They taste completely different than other whiskies-particularly the older ones-and they can be a lot of fun to drink. The two reviewed in this buyer’s guide are very fine examples of the style.
Scotland’s northernmost mainland distillery, located in the historic port of Wick, is owned by Inver House. The ‘entry level’ 12 year old expression is widely available. The nose presents pleasingly fresh malt and floral notes, with a touch of pine. The palate offers a fuller bodied, sweeter whisky than the nose might lead one to expect, with more malt, spices, fresh fruit, and a suggestion of salt. The finish is medium in length, drying, and decidedly nutty.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Pulteney) 21 year old, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $120.00
Gordon & MacPhail bottled a 21 year old expression from Scotland’s northernmost mainland distillery for the U.S. market earlier this year. Sweet on the nose, with honey and vanilla; fleetingly, stewed apricots and peaches, plus a hint of caramel. Intensely focused, sweet tropical fruits on the palate, with barley sugar. Becoming nuttier, with an edge of mixed spices. Spice fading to milk chocolate in the medium-length finish, with just a suggestion of brine.
Maturation of the Pentland Skerries bottling of the Lighthouse Collection has taken place exclusively in former Spanish sherry casks, which lends the nose rich, dark sherry and Christmas cake notes, caramel and old leather, along with the distillery’s characteristic saltiness, which here comes across as salted peanuts. Full-bodied and slick in the mouth, overt sherry, sultanas, figs, spice, and contrasting brine. Mild maritime notes and autumn fruits combine with prunes and sherry in an accomplished, after-dinner finish. £55/liter
Explorer Jock Wishart’s successful ‘Row to the Pole’ expedition is celebrated with this 3,000 bottle commemorative edition matured in ex-American and ex-Spanish oak sherry casks selected by distillery manager Malcolm Waring. New-mown grass, ripe apples, brine, and a whiff of Arbroath smokies on the nose. Citrus fruit, spices, and milk chocolate on the palate, with sherry lending gravitas. The finish is sweet, full, and lengthy, with brine returning at the last. £20 (350 ml)
Apart from the 40 year old expression launched in 2012, this is the oldest Old Pulteney on the market, and annual batches are
released with slightly varying strengths. Refill bourbon casks have been used in their maturation. Sweet and zesty on the deceptively youthful nose, with banoffee pie, eating apples, and quite sweet oak on the palate. Cereal notes and pleasing oak in the lengthy finish. £250
Dunnet Head replaces Duncansby Head and consists of 80 percent sherry cask-matured whisky and 20 percent aged in bourbon wood. It is non-chill filtered. Soft caramel on the nose, plus a hint of fresh ginger and meadow hay. Sweet, spicy sherry and a heathery note on the nicely textured palate, with suggestions of citrus and salt. Medium in length, with lingering soft spices in the finish; ginger and cinnamon at the close. (Travel Retail exclusive)
Fresh, briny, and very appetizing. Mouth-coating vanilla, lightly toasted marshmallow, and a kiss of honey add a soothing balance, while pineapple, nectarine, gentle spice, and subtle seaweed offer intrigue. Old Pulteney has great potential if only given the opportunity. Bottling at cask strength and not chill-filtered really brings out more of the whisky’s subtle complexities. I welcome more single cask, cask-strength Pulteneys in the future. (A Park Avenue Liquor exclusive.)
Duncansby Head has been aged in a mixture of bourbon and Spanish sherry casks. The nose is initially slightly earthy; then Old Pulteney’s characteristic marine nature develops discreetly, along with icing sugar sprinkled on apple pie and a hint of roasted potato skins. The palate is smooth and chewy, with sherry making its presence felt along with cooked apples, oranges, sultanas, nutmeg, and cocoa. The finish is spicy and nicely rounded. £45/liter
Just 450 cases of this veteran expression from Old Pulteney have been released, offered in non-chill filtered format after maturation in a mixture of bourbon casks and Spanish oak sherry casks. Light fruit notes on the nose, notably tangerines, plus vanilla, lemon, and sea salt. Orchard fruits, spicy sherry, worn leather, and cocoa powder on the silky palate. Spicy and drying in the finish, with mild oak tannins.
This expression has been matured entirely in bourbon casks and offers a fresh nose of ozone and lemon, becoming quite fragrant in time. More mouth-coating than might be expected, yet easy drinking, with milk chocolate, malt, tropical fruits, and an edge of sea salt. The finish is medium in length, with wood spices. £40/liter
Whisky Galore (distilled at Old Pulteney), 16 year old, 1989 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $70.00
Lightweight, with a slightly oily texture. Appetizingly fresh and briny on the palate, with underlying notes of hay, lime, vanilla-tinged malt, and a hint of seaweed on the finish. A mouth-watering aperitif.
This 21 year old expression is lighter in color and not as sweet or fruity as the younger 17 year old also reviewed here. Very mouthcoating in texture, with notes of dry vanilla, fat barley, coconut, citrus fruit, and pineapple. Long, intensely appetizing, dry salty finish. As an aperitif, or perhaps with seafood.
Scott's Selection (distilled at Old Pulteney), 1977 vintage, 56.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $135.00
Appetizingly briny and spicy, as would be expected from a Pulteney-especially on the nose. The spice notes (cinnamon, licorice root, vanilla) are balanced with light caramel and toffee. Quite dry, polished leather finish with suggestions of bourbon. While still enjoyable, I feel this would have been a better whisky if it were bottled 5-10 years ago.