Saturday, 30 May 2009

Old Pulteney Distillery

Old Pulteney Distillery
Huddard St
Caithness KW1 5BA

North Highlands, Scotland - Active

Flavour profile

Old Pulteney is in Wick, next to the sea, and maybe it's not surprising that it's quite a salty whisky. Peat and seaweed also add to its maritime character. The whisky isn't that savoury, however, there are some distinctly unsealike characteristics in it. These are mostly very sweet notes.

Sometimes the sweet notes manifest as fruit, but more often, as chocolate and caramel. Caramel blends better than chocolate with the brininess of the whisky. Strangely, any fruitiness tends to get overwhelmed by the brine and the peat, and is rather hidden and elusive. It takes some work and attention to find these notes.

All the Old Pulteneys I've tasted so far are here.

Old Pulteney 17 yo - very good
Old Pulteney 21 yo - good
SMWS 52.18 (Old Pulteney 7 yo 2001/2008) - very good
Old Pulteney 12 yo - good

Distillery history

The distillery was founded by James Henderson in 1823, supposedly named after Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, a Scottish lawyer, MP and once the richest man in Great Britain. It eventually fell into the hands of one of Allied Domecq's ancestor companies. Allied Domecq sold the distillery to InverHouse Distillers, now a subsidiary of Thai Beverages. The distillery was silent between 1930 and 1959 (closed, then rebuilt).

Old Pulteney is a component of some fairly obscure blends (like Inver House, Catton's and Pinwinnie Royal). There are 3 single malt expressions, the 12 yo, 17 yo and 21 yo. Most of the malt is now diverted to these expressions.

Potted distillery facts

Water source: Loch of Yarrows
Washbacks: Six, cast iron, 24,000 litres each
Wash stills:
One, reflux bowls neck with T shape, 21,707 litres
Spirit stills: One, reflux bowls neck, 17,343 litres
Spirit still Lyne arm: Almost right angle, bent vertical descent
Production per year:
3,000,000 litres

- The Scottish Whisky Distilleries, Misako Udo

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