Old Pulteney 17 years

"More complexity, more maturity and just more quality, a very good example of how good highland whisky can be and not to miss"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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As many of you know, Old Pulteney is located in the town Wick and used to be the nothernmost mainland distillery, before Wolfburn started production in Thurso a few years ago. I think Old Pulteney is one of the Highland distilleries with a evident coastal influence. It is also one of the distilleries which claims that the salty character comes from the sea wind bashing on the casks during maturation of the spirit. Well, there have been some discussions on that issue, but we will leave that as it is for now. What is more important is that their highly acclaimed 17 year-old expression (please have a look at the ‘What others say’ section), along with the 21-year-old, has recently been discontinued. After the Japanese whisky scene has almost completely aborted age statements, Old Pulteney is one of the first Scottish distilleries which openly has admitted that their stock of older whiskies is running dangerously low. At least they promised a replacement in their press release, however, so far they have only released a (very expensive) 25-year-old and several vintages. The 17-year-old version is still available, albeit not for very long and decorated with a hefty price tag that escalated overnight after their announcement. Let’s hope a reasonably priced alternative will be available soon.

Nose

The nose instantly reveals a clear sherry influence combined with the typical coastal signature of this distillery. But it also has an oily, herbal, fresh feeling to it. Carbon paper, some sort of herbal liquor, butterscotch, fig liquor (does that exist?) and hints of marinated olives. As you may probably have noticed from some of my other reviews, I am very fond of a restrained cask influence, which is the case here. The sherry cask is there but it underlines the distillery character. In fact, the balance between the sherry and salty/oily notes is pretty perfect. Develops towards more fruits, mostly bitter oranges, butterscotch cookies and heavy salted-chocolate. What enhances the drinking experiences is that is kind of edgy, each time you thing it goes pretty sweet, it comes up with a whoosh of salty tang.

Taste

Thick, complex, oily, coastal. An excellent start! Golden raisins soaked in sea water, oysters with caramel, chocolate with orange zest. These weird and wonderful combinations keep coming up in my head. The palate is slightly rounder and softer compared to the nose. Lemon olive oil, no, make that olive oil with quite a few squeezed lemons and oranges, and anchovies. I think this could be one of the essential Highland single malts that every whisky aficionado should taste, really. Add some fried pumpkin, green pepper, guacamole, and grass, to make this excellent mix even tastier. The finish is reasonably long with salt and orange peel with a fruity and grassy undercurrent. Very well done by those people in Wick!

Overall

After hearing so many good things about this whisky, I was eagerly waiting to try it. And I am glad I did, because it is a very rewarding dram. The extra years have not suppressed the coastal signature of the distillery. In fact, I find less sherry than I did in the 12 years and the 17 years have moved a few spots up the ladder, with more complexity, more maturity and just more quality. A very good example of how good highland whisky can be, and one not to miss. Probably you need to be quick it being discontinued in 2017 due to low stocks. I have every confidence in the people at the distillery that they will reinstate something like this, once they caught up with their production. Slainte mhath!

What others say

Whiskybase: 85.46 (140 votes) * The Whisky Jug: 89/100 * Whiskynotes: 87/100 * All Things Whisky: 88/100 * The Dramble: 87/100 * Whiskyfun: 88/00 * Ralfy: 91/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
45%
Peat/smoke
0.5%
Nose 87%
Taste 88%
Balance 88.5%
Depth 87%
Finish 87%
Score