Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review - Old Pulteney 25 years old

The Old Pulteney 25 years old is a recent super premium addition to the core single malts from the north Highland distillery. This replaces the multi award-winning 21 years old, which won the prestigious Whisky of the Year 2012 in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, in the range. The new expression has been matured in American oak ex-bourbon barrels for its first 22 years, before being transferred to Spanish oak ex-sherry butts for three years.

The Pulteney distillery 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. The distillery is located in the Highland fishing town of Wick, just 15 miles south of John O'Groats. Wick was one of the biggest herring fishing ports in the UK during the early Victorian era and Sir Pulteney was a major influential figure of the time.

The distillery and brand is currently owned by Inver House Distillers, 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. The brand has grown massively in the last five years and this has seen Old Pulteney climb into the Top 20 for world sales of single malts.

The Old Pulteney 25 years old has been bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered. It is available via selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide with a recommended price is £300 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose is initially sweet and fruity. Aromas of golden syrup, tropical fruit (especially pineapple and mango), sultana and milk chocolate rise from the glass. Underneath are further aromas of beeswax, oak shavings, baking spice (cinnamon and all-spice in particular) and something that is earthy and savoury.

On the palate this whisky feels viscous and luxurious, coating the inside of your mouth. There is an immediate sweetness that is reminiscent of golden syrup, honey and a combination of white and milk chocolate. Then there are further notes of toffee, dried fruit (especially raisin and sultana) and some increasingly expressive tropical fruit (think of pineapple, mango and a hint of lychee). The background earthy and savoury elements on the nose are present and more influential - this has a dusty and slightly damp quality. Is it a hint of soft peat smoke? Further hints of beeswax polish, clove, menthol and a tiny pinch of salt round things off.

The finish is long and becomes increasingly savoury and dry, especially once the obviously sweet and fruity notes begin to fade. A late hint of chocolate and toffee returns but the finish is largely driven by delicate wood spice and earthy savoury notes.

What's the verdict?
The Old Pulteney 25 years old is a classy whisky and extremely good - it had to be to follow on and replace the now legendary 21 years old expression. The mix of sweet and savoury characteristics is very pleasing and enjoyable with plenty of depth and complexity that you would expect from a whisky of this age.

There is a big hike in the price compared to the old 21 years old, which retailed for around £120, but this is still not ludricrous when compared to competing brands. A tough act to follow but one that Inver House have pulled off in our opinion.