Old Pulteney

Distillery Bottlings

Posted 07 November 2019

I often see people use ‘spirit character’ and ‘distillery character’ interchangeable – but to my mind they’re very different concepts. Spirit character is the profile of the liquid before it has undergone maturation – the underlying base aromas, flavours and importantly texture, which have been fashioned from the ingredients used, and in particular, from the fermentation regime (which is where many esters are created). It’s something which can, and in my view should, run through every eventual whisky which a distillery produces. A perceptible DNA which binds whiskies together no matter their cask type and no matter their age.


Posted 11 March 2019

How do you define spirit character? Is it a particular style, flavour or texture, or merely a consistency that is built up over time? Likewise, at what point does buggering around with ingredients and processes, regimes alter that character to a point where it’s DNA feels lost? Distillery identity changes – with updates to production and repairs over time, through new personnel, with distillers and blenders altering recipes to put their stamp on history. It also, through necessity, needs to adapt and change with the prevailing trends in the market. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.


Posted 19 February 2018

Old Pulteney announced a trio of new travel retail exclusives last month – a  2002 single cask for the 2018 Viking Whisky Fair, a 1990 Vintage (previously a London Heathrow only bottling) and a brand new 2006 Vintage bottled entirely from ex-bourbon American oak casks. Unlike some distilleries who seem to like to announce bottlings weeks or even months before they arrive in stores, I manged to pick up the 2006 Vintage just four days after the press announcement – a very timely business trip indeed.


Posted 08 June 2017

Old Pulteney 12 year old was first released in 1997 as part of Inver House Distillers repositioning of Old Pulteney into a single malt brand. The entry-level whisky is primarily matured in ex-bourbon barrels.


Posted 15 January 2018

Last Friday, the 10th anniversary Viking Line Cinderella Whisky Fair set sail from Stockholm for three separate days of cruising (over to Mariehamn, capital of the Aland Islands) and plenty of exciting whisky to sample. This popular event draws enthusiasts from around the world and regularly offers both new and exclusive expressions from supporting distilleries. This year, Old Pulteney took the opportunity to unveil three new bottlings, including an event exclusive single cask from 2002.


Posted 31 May 2018

Today, we’re presenting you with the second of our Whisky Exchange exclusive single cask catchups. As always too much whisky, too little time – but there was no way I was going to let this one pass me by. As you might know, Old Pulteney was my gateway whisky – the single malt which set me on my whisky journey many moons ago. The recently released TWE exclusive Pulteney is something of an oddity, in that its been drawn from a single sherry butt. Most single casks releases from this distillery tend to be ex-bourbon – American oak being perfectly suited to maturing the sharp and crisp salt-tinged distillate that is a hallmark of the Wick-based distillery.


Posted 19 March 2019

The fundamental nature of maturing whisky – deliberately but unhurriedly over the years – reinforces a near monolithic link to the past. This can be positively appreciated by exploring processes and practices from decades past, or from experiencing bottlings now defunct that capture a particular moment. Time doesn’t stand still, and nor does whisky. But, all too often I’m seeing the past manifest itself in a binary belief that things were always better before – a view that in some instances may well be true, but one which will only lead to perpetual disappointment – and higher secondary market prices for the things which once were.


Posted 08 June 2017

Old Pulteney's 17 year old was launched in 2004. It is a matured in both ex-bourbon casks and Spanish sherry casks (both Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez).


Posted 10 April 2019

Stock management is neither easy, nor a precise science. Casks are ordered, filled and laid down based around a wide range of assumptions - some of which will only come into focus decades in the future. Unless you’ve got near endless warehousing and extraordinary production capacity, everything is by necessity a compromise – how much liquid can you producing to maintain the consistency of your existing range for X number of year? What selection of casks are required, how are they judged to be of the appropriate quality – and when? Whisky production is educated guesswork for a possible future, and in many instances, no one would have predicted the shape the industry twenty years ago.


Posted 08 June 2017

Old Pulteney's flagship core product is the 21 year old. It was released in 2005 and is a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-fino sherry. It was named the best whisky in the world in Jim Murray’s whisky bible in 2012 and has picked up a string of gold medal awards since.


Posted 21 October 2019

I don’t ascribe to the adage that X% of whisky’s flavour is derived from the cask. You’ll regularly see producers trying to pin-point a precise percentage of flavour that’s derived from the wood. It ties into their narrative. It provides a simple takeaway factoid. But, at its heart, this assertion is plucked straight from the arse of random guesswork. A quick look on the Interwebs tells you that this figure is estimated to be anywhere between 50% to 80%.


Posted 24 July 2017

Tasting whiskies which have already won awards is a tricky business. It’s all too easy to be either be disappointed when the expected existential experience fails to materialise – or simply to forget, that at the end of the day it’s all a matter of opinion, and in the case of whisky awards, that opinion was probably not yours. Old Pulteney’s 1989 Vintage took the gong of ‘World’s Best Single Malt Whisky’ at the 2016 World Whisky Awards. This is no mean feat if you cast your eye over the wide competition it was up against.


Posted 10 August 2018

Old Pulteney’s 40 year old was released in 2012 – it remains the oldest bottling the distillery has produced – though when I visited a few years back, Distillery Manager Malcolm Waring clearly had his sights firmly on setting aside casks for releasing a 50 year old expression at some point in the future. The OP 40 year old is composed of three ex-sherry hogsheads and a single ex-bourbon barrel – as such, only 493 bottles were produced. Word on the Internet is that whilst the casks would need to have been distilled in 1972 to achieve a 40 year old age statement, some of them were actually older, having been distilled back in 1968.


Independent Bottlings

Gordon & MacPhail


Posted 07 August 2017

Well-aged Old Pulteney is not something you’ll see every day of the week. The maritime malt is available in many different guises, and there are sporadic independent bottlings of all ages to seek out, but bottlings that have been matured over 30+ years are a fairly infrequent sighting and are much harder to come by. But, there are options, and as is often the case, they’re provided to us by the ever-excellent Gordon & MacPhail.


Scotch Malt Whisky Society


Posted 02 May 2019

Another month, another OP – this makes me happy. On offer – a refill ex-bourbon hogshead that’s been maturing since 2007. View on SMWS


Posted 09 November 2017

Old Pulteney makes a rare appearance with a bottling distilled on 18 June 2001. It spent 14 years in an ex-Bourbon barrel before being moved over to a 1st fill ex-wine hogshead for another year of maturation. One of 219 bottles. Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile.


Posted 31 January 2019

Always nice to see 52 on the outturn list – particularly when it's served au-naturale like this bottling – 17 years in a refill ex-bourbon barrel. Oily & Coastal profile.


Posted 14 November 2019

A strangely categorised Old Pulteney that describes itself as highly coastal and then eschews that dedicated category for the Spicy & Sweet profile. Hmmm. 17 years in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel for this one.

View on SMWS


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