A few hours after this review gets posted I will be driving north from Glasgow into the Highlands. I will not be going as far as Wick (where Pulteney is located), only to the Drumnadrochit area. Still, it feels appropriate to post a review of a northern Highland malt while I’m in the general vicinity. And so here’s a young Old Pulteney. This is unusual in several respects. First, that it’s an independent bottling of Pulteney. Second, that despite being an independent bottling it bears the Old Pulteney name—the distillery’s name is Pulteney; “Old Pulteney” is more like a brand name. Third, it’s from a sherry cask. It’s not that no sherry casks are used in formulating the malts in Pulteney’s regular lineup but it’s not a distillery you think of when you think of sherry bombs. And this is very much a sherry bomb. It’s also very much an alcohol bomb, at almost 60% abv. And it’s a brash youngster too. I can also tell you right off the bat that it’s a lot better than the Cadenhead’s 11 yo I recently reviewed, which was also from 2006.
I opened it for one of my whisky group’s regular tastings last year and then took it back again to another tasting. It did well on both occasions. Here now are my notes, which were taken a few months ago.
Old Pulteney 9, 2006 (59.6%; Malts of Scotland; sherry hogshead, MoS #16006; from my own bottle)
Nose: New tennis ball/can. Lots of red fruit: cherries, raspberries. After a bit there’s cocoa/coffee and then from below dried orange peel. The rubbery notes begin to subside after a bit and eventually disappear. With water and time the fruit expands (apricot, peach) and there’s some perfumed oak too.
Palate: Cough syrupy with licorice and quite spicy (oak, pepper). Some floral notes as well (roses). Some orange peel lurking underneath. Sweeter with water but not more interesting.
Finish: Medium-long. The sweeter fruit gives way to the oak and then it gets quite salty at the end. With water it stays sweeter long but it’s a bit too cloying for me.
Comments: This is nice but it’s not very Pulteney: sort of a generic young sherry bomb in some ways, albeit a good one. Just goes to show that you can make the spirit from almost all distilleries taste more or less the same by putting it into smaller sherry casks for a short period of time.
Rating: 86 points.