Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Release - Old Pulteney 40 Year Old

Old Pulteney Distillery is the northernmost mainland distillery in Scotland. Located in the town of Wick, the distillery is squeezed tightly into the surrounding streets and buildings and space is at such a premium that the Wash Still has had to be designed with an unusual flat top so as to allow it to fit into the Still Room. Luckily the compromise with the still shape has not adversely affected the quality of the whisky produced and the Old Pulteney 21 Year Old was rated as the best whisky of the year in whisky writer, Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible.

The distillery was founded in 1826 in order to supply local demand for whisky at the time. During the nineteenth century Wick was the largest herring port in Europe with over 1000 boats leaving its harbour everyday and attracting thousands of thirsty immigrant workers during the herring season from all over Scotland (who’s eating all these herrings!?). As a consequence, the distillery thrived along with the rest of the town, only falling on hard times at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Old Pulteney 40 Year Old is the oldest whisky to have been released by the distilleries owners Inverhouse. It consists of a vatting of three ex-sherry hogsheads and one ex-bourbon barrel. These four casks must have lost a lot over the years as there are only 493 bottles available. It’s at cask strength (51.3% ABV). If you want a bottle you’ll have to stump up around £1,500.

Our tasting notes
On the nose, wow! Lots of intense juicy fruitiness hits you right in the nostrils at first. Preserved and candied fruits like quince jelly or strawberry jam. All things strawberry in fact. Still goes on, definitely not a shy whisky, so many aromas coming at you. Also orange water, marmalade. After a while lovely sweet pastry like aromas which remind me of almond croissants and baklava. There’s also a nice herbaciousness with hints of spearmint, coriander, fennel, and watercress. With water the vanilla comes through a lot more alongside butterscotch and a little earthiness. The sherry cask influence seems much more evident as well with chocolate, hazelnuts, walnuts and polished oak.

Surprisingly gentle on the palate for something at 51.3% but at the same time still manages to allow lots of flavours to come through. All sorts of orange based flavours – fresh oranges, candied oranges, marmalade. Also barley twists , spearmint and aniseed. Drying and tannic throughout but this balances the whisky perfectly, lending weight and unctuousness in just the right amounts. The sherry cask influence makes an appearance on the finish with hazelnuts and walnuts, dark chocolate and raisins. This soon turns into a lovely lingering watermelon like fruitiness accompanied by gentle pepper spice warmth. Similar with water although a little more drying with the oaky tannins coming through and a little more citrus fruit added to the mix such as lemons and lemon sherbets.

What’s the verdict?
Whether any “drink” is worth £1,500 a bottle is debatable but to be fair the them they have released a truly amazing whisky which is definitely up there with other whiskies I’ve been lucky enough to try in the same price bracket and definitely head an shoulders above anything cheaper. Although expensive it is an amazing whisky, with so much going on, the tasting notes could go on and on to be honest. In the unlikely event of me being able to afford one, I would get a bottle without any hesitation.

1 comment:

TrT said...

The normal Old Pulteney was my first ever bottle of whiskey, a leaving present from the hell that was my first job.