The first in the 2022 sequence of Equinox and Solstice head up to Wick for a small batch release (830 bottles) of Old Pulteney. Matured for 13 years in a combination of two 1st fill and one refill ex-bourbon barrels and bottled at the series standard strength of 48.5% ABV. Still available from Decadent Drinks for £75 – though there’s a 20% discount in the offing at present – so £60 if you take advantage of that.
Nose: Peach blossom, pressed flowers and honey spread over crackers joins sack cloth, clean cotton sheets and minerality from pumice and shingle. The addition of water presents sunflower oil, marshmallow and vanilla tea together with desiccated coconut – reduced there’s less minerality abound.
Taste: More overtly rocky now. Salt and concrete provide a chiselled edge, whilst richer honey, golden barley and porridge oats sit alongside gooseberry, limoncello, powdered ginger and a peppery kick. Dilution expresses a sweeter aspect with lychee and salted butter spread over French stick.
Finish: Medium with dry coastalness, salted toffee and limestone.
Pulteney is a distillery where I look for and expect distillery character – and this Sponge edition delivers ample. There’s a keen balance between sweetness and minerality and despite the lowered bottling strength of 48.5% - there’s still plenty of play left for those looking to reduce further. Ticking all my OP boxes, this scores an easy…