The Old Pulteney Port is the distillery’s second expression in The Coastal Series, which kicked of last year with whisky finished in ex-Pineau des Charentes casks. I thought it offered a nice variation on the distillery’s house style, but wasn’t necessarily revelatory either. Could this new ex-Port matured edition be a step up?
The Coastal Series combines Old Pulteney’s maritime identity with that of other aged drinks traditionally made near the sea. Last year, the Pineau des Charentes release brought Old Pulteney to Charente-Maritime, which is part of the Cognac producing region. This year, the Old Pulteney Port brings this Highland whisky to the Douro Valley of Northern Portugal.
The Old Pulteney Port initially matured in second-fill ex-bourbon casks. It then further matured in Ruby Port Pipes and Barriques. There’s no information on the length of the finish. Or for that matter, the length of the entire maturation.
I’m a fan of Old Pulteney’s ex-bourbon matured whiskies first and foremost. Maturation in Port casks can be a dangerous endeavour, swallowing up the original characteristics as a whole if you’re not careful. Then again, the good people at Pulteney and Inverhouse probably know that much better than I do. All that’s left now is to taste.
Old Pulteney Port ‘Coastal Series’ (46%, OB, 2023)
Nose: A remarkable, almost fizzy quality. Hints of cassis, gingerbread and orange marmalade, as well as some baking spices. There’s a touch of shortbread too, then finally some damp oak and cloves. Taste: The port has left a gentle cloying imprint on the mouthfeel. It’s slightly more recognisable as Old Pulteney on the palate. A soft salinity. Gentle pepper-y notes too. Even some chalk. But also an intense wine-y sweetness. Juicy red fruits, but they seem a little bit out of place, as well well as milk chocolate and hazelnuts. Finish: Medium in length. Fairly dry, some oak spices and a touch of chocolate truffles.
I rated last year's Pineau des Charentes release slightly higher, but I have pretty much the same critique.
"Is it the Pulteney I know and love? No. Is it a good whisky? Absolutely."
That's what I wrote last year, and it applies to the Old Pulteney Port as well. The distillery character is pushed to the side, strangely making this release less coastal than say the Old Pulteney 12 Years. It's good, but just doesn't have many of the traits that I love about Pulteney.