K&L Notes: The wonderful Pulteney distillery in the town of Wick was at one point the most northerly distillery on the mainland of Scotland. This far-flung distillery was established to support the extremely popular fishing industry in the area. While the herring was plentiful, so were rowdy fishmen, leading to a prohibition in the town from 1922 to 1947. The extreme location of the distillery meant that all supplies for a significant portion of its existence had to come by boat. Now the Old Pulteney brand is starting to become more important, the stocks are now being diverted from blending toward the brand. It’s always been extremely rare on the independent bottler markets, and we’ve only had the honor of selling a few version from Gordon & Macphail and Duncan Taylor over the years. Now this cask from the excellent Hunter Laing Old & Rare line offers a completely classic Pulteney profile. Filled into a bourbon barrel in September 2002 and bottled in January 2022 at a perfect 18 years of age, this whisky is quintessential Pulteney offered in a way the distillery isn’t even able to replicate. If we were to have found an equivalent barrel under the owner’s brand, it would have certainly commanded 2-3 times this price, but be no more delicious. Expect a complex mix of mature malt and vibrant ocean character that exemplifies this excellent distillery. Please remember to add a drop of water or two to release the aromatic potential.
David Othenin-Girard | K&L Spirits Buyer | Review Date: November 08, 2022
This gorgeous cask of Pulteney is one of the best products I’ve ever had from this lovely distillery. Old-school and absolutely pristine, aged 18 years in a fresh bourbon barrel, this is exactly the type of Highland malt I like to drink. In lots of ways, it exemplifies the idea of unpeated ocean malt that the Northern Coast does so well. It’s not as waxy and oily as Clynelish, but with a tons of character. Let’s taste. The color is a vibrant pale gold. The nose is a complex mix of fresh herbs, salted fruit, tea tree oil, and very old, fine wood. On the palate, it’s very malty, extremely sweet, and approachable at full strength, but it’s obviously hiding tons of character behind its 118 proof. With a drop of water and some air, we’ve got a huge change—sweet malt, licorice candies, pulverized stone, distant waves, gooseberries, greengage, petroleum jelly, fragrant scrubby heather, and salty chutney. The palate remains extremely rich and supple now with more salt and a complex mixture of white raisins dipped in dark cocoa powder. This whisky is an absolute dream, offering so much unique character and further solidifying Pulteney as one of the greats of the Northern Coast. It may seem pricey compared to other 18-year-olds we sell/have sold, but is in fact an incredible value considering the quality and scarcity of this special malt.
Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 03, 2022
The Old and Rare bottlings from Hunter Laing are always of impeccable quality, and this cask is certainly no different. This 18-year bourbon barrel yielded only 197 bottles of a golden elixir that is sweet and honeyed, as well as salty and fresh. At 58.6% ABV, it’s a big whisky but not overly hot. The nose is full of marmalade, honey, sea spray, lemongrass, peaches, and malt balls. The palate is lifted and lively, jumping from honey and cream to snappy citrus and sweet herbs. With a touch of water, the fruit explodes into a tropical maelstrom set off beautifully by the salty tinge. The finish is long and clean. It’s a beauty all around.
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