Were you to ask about my favourite distillery, it wouldn’t take me long to bring Old Pulteney up. It’s in my top five at least, maybe even top three. And yet I’ve never reviewed their flagship expression, the Old Pulteney 12 Years. That changes today.
Answering questions about my favourite distillery is much easier than the subject of favourite whisky. It’s something I get asked on a semi-regular basis, mostly by people that don’t drink whisky themselves. Talk about an impossible question.
Some people might answer, “The one in my glass”, which is <ugh>. I just can’t. Maybe I could point people towards my Whisky Top 10, but I usually go off on a tangent that it all depends on my mood or the time of year or some such thing. In short: it varies. Which is actually the truth, and I suspect that to be the case for many of you as well.
But it doesn’t vary to the extend that any given whisky could be my favourite whisky at a some point in time. I do have my preferences. And were I forced to pick an actual favourite whisky, I’d probably quickly default to any expression from one of my favourite distilleries.
Benromach is always one of the first that comes to mind. I also can’t ignore Bowmore, because when they get it right, they get it RIGHT. Then there’s distilleries that are in my top list almost by default, such as Springbank and Clynelish. They produce a quality, singular spirit that can’t be ignored. And finally Old Pulteney.
They were my first love. And your first love always has a special place. I’ve talked about it on my blog before, but trying the (now discontinued) Old Pulteney 17 Years for the first time truly was an eye-opener. Their citrus-y, coastal, saline single malt (preferably ex-bourbon matured) just really gets me going. Each sip is… Well, insert any cliche about comfiness or feeling at home.
Which brings me to the Old Pulteney 12 Years. It’s bottled at 40 percent. That’s scary. The distillery’s 15-year-old and 18-year-old are all bottled at a respectable 46 percent, which would instill me with much more confidence. It really is unclear to me why they would decide on the lowest possible abv.
Then again, Pulteney hasn’t disappointed me yet, so I’ve no reason they would start now.
Old Pulteney 12 Years (40%, OB, 2021)
Nose: It’s lemon-y fresh with a hint of vanilla, elder flowers and tinned pineapples. Even some ripe galia melon. But there’s also chalk and seashells. Just properly good stuff. Taste: Relatively creamy and certainly holds up high the Pulteney profile. There’s some chalk, a nice salinity and touches of bitter lemon zest and green grapes. Some white pepper to finish things off. Finish: Medium in length with a good pinch of salt.
The Old Pulteney 12 Years is serious whisky. It's coastal, fruity and well-balanced with enough depth to warrant buying an entire bottle. No frills, just good single malt from Wick.