Old Pulteney (pronounced: PULT-nee) is one of a dying breed of distilleries in Scotland, that of the rigorous, coastal highland variety. Through the years, it has garnered many devout followers, although curiously never enough to propel it quite into the big leagues of malts. This maybe...
Old Pulteney (pronounced: PULT-nee) is one of a dying breed of distilleries in Scotland, that of the rigorous, coastal highland variety. Through the years, it has garnered many devout followers, although curiously never enough to propel it quite into the big leagues of malts. This maybe down to the fact that as a distillate it is a little more challenging than most, whatever the reason there are many of us that are glad it has remained a more middling malt brand not been tempted to go into mass overproduction and ruin the great character of its wonderful malt.
Founded: 1826 Stills: 1 Wash 1 Spirit Water Source: Loch Hempriggs Capacity: 3 Million Litres Owners: Inver House
1958-1980: Old Old Pulteney
The distillery was restarted at the start of the 1950s after several decades of silence. It was reconstructed in the late fifties with new condensers, new stills and the discontinuation of the malting floors. The oldest known bottlings of Pulteney date from around the mid-late sixties and are distinctly coastal and tropical with abundant fruit, citrus, wax, paraffin, steel wool and flecks of soft peat and flints.
The best are by Jack Weibers, Douglas Laing and a couple by the distillery themselves. Other great early bottlings were done by Gordon & MacPhail with most distillations dating from around the early seventies. These were very clean, crisp coastal whiskies, the best being the younger expressions like the 8yo 100 proof from the late seventies.
Other great bottlings from the seventies are several aged casks by Duncan Taylor, the fantastic, recently released official 30yo and a great 1970 19yo at cask strength for Whyte & Whyte in the USA.
1980-Present: New Old Pulteney
Despite the changes in the industry throughout the past decades Old Pulteney has remained fairly consistent in style and quality. Perhaps not quite as intense and uncompromising as it once was, it is, nevertheless, still a full-bodied style malt with plenty of upfront coastal aspects and a clear accent that speaks its origins very distinctly.
Since Inver House acquired the distillery in 1995 they have released an excellent 12yo, followed in the 2000s by the uber-honied 21yo and, arguably the most authentic example of the distillate, the wonderfully coastal and balanced 17yo.
There are also a few more independent bottlings around these days, along with the various official single casks and one-off bottlings that get released from time to time. The modern character of Old Pulteney is one of distinct coastal richness supported but clean malt, plenty of honey and sinewy fruit. There are also occasional flashes of peat and a little drying smokiness. It remains a fantastic whisky and one of the very few distilleries that you could conceivably argue is still quite an old school in character.