Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Have just tried - Old Pulteney Navigator

The Navigator is a whisky that was originally released in early Autumn last year and was designed to celebrate Old Pulteney's maritime heritage, links and character. It was launched on September 1 to coincide with the start of the Clipper Round The World yacht race, which set off from London and for which the brand was the main sponsor.  The Navigator was made from ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, which were hand selected by Distillery Manager Malcolm Waring.

Old Pulteney was founded in 1826 by James Henderson.  It was named after Sir William Johnstone Pulteney and remains as one of the few distilleries to be named after a person.  It is the most northerly mainland distillery in Scotland and is located in the Highland fishing town of Wick, which lies just 15 miles south of John O'Groats. Wick was one of the biggest herring fishing ports during the early Victorian era and Sir Pulteney was one of the major influential figures of the time.

Old Pulteney is currently owned by Inver House Distillers, which is part of the larger Thai group InBev, and has a production capacity of three million litres a year. It nestles amongst regular town buildings just a few hundred metres from the harbour.  We have visited the distillery, so for more information about Pulteney - click here. The brand has grown massively in the last three years and this has seen Old Pulteney climb into the top 20 for world sales of single malts.

The Navigator is bottled at 46% ABV and was released to the UK and US markets back in September.  It will shortly be available in other selected world markets in limited quantities.  A bottle should cost around the £40-45 mark.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a pale golden yellow and the nose is full of fresh and vibrant aromas.  The immediate ones are of malty cereals and crisp, green apples.  This is contrasted by a tangy zing of lemon zest, which catches the nostrils slightly.  Underneath are further aromas of honey, vanilla, toffee and white chocolate.

On the palate this whisky again feels vibrant, fresh and has a initial mouth watering tang to it.  The lemon zest and crisp green apple notes from the nose are at the forefront and they are backed up by the distinct malty cereals, which add a bittersweet element to proceedings.  These elements make the palate feel light.  Some depth and complexity is added by background sweeter notes of honey, vanilla extract, crumbly brown sugar, sultanas and icing sugar, plus delicate hints of cinnamon, bitter orange and salty brine.

The finish is on the short side and retains the tangy, zesty elements from the nose and palate.  The apple and lemon notes are particularly strong, and they are softened by the sugary and malty characteristics.  The saltiness really comes through on the finish also, leaving a refreshing dryness in the mouth.

What's the verdict?
This feels quite different from the other Old Pulteneys that we have sampled to date.  These have either carried age statements or vintages, and have generally been older.  We have always felt that the whiskies are quite under rated.  Compared to these, the Navigator is a slight disappointment.

However we believe that it is not designed to be compared to the core age statement/vintage range, but to offer the consumer something different.  Amidst the ever increasing selection of non age statement whiskies this holds its own and offers a lovely fresh, vibrant and bracing experience. It is clearly quite youthful and a bit feisty, but enjoyable.


Dan George said...

I am having a Bourbon Party next month and Old Pulteney Navigator will definitely get an invitation to the party. Thanks Dan from Mantitlement.com

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