Old Pulteney


Old Pulteney distillery is the most northerly of all those on the Scottish mainland and is situated in Wick, Caithness.

The distillery was founded in 1826 by James Henderson and eventually sold to James Watson & Co. in 1920 who quickly sold it onwards to John Dewar & Sons in 1923. They also didn't keep it for very long as it was taken over again just two years later by DCL who then decided to close it in 1930. It lay dormant until 1951 when a Banff Lawyer bought it, reopened it and then sold it to Hiram Walker in 1955 who, thankfully, renovated the distillery in 1958.


The distillery was taken over by Allied Breweries in 1961 who then went through various transformations themselves as they changed into Allied Lyons and Allied Domecq until finally, in 1995 they were taken over by Inver House Distillers who remain the owners today.

On the left we see Malcolm Waring the Manager of Pulteney Distillery, showing us the Spirit Safe.


General whisky characteristics: Fresh, maritime, solid, unpeated.


My thanks to Teun van Wel for permission ot copy & use the distillery photo (top left)

More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness    



Old Pulteney, New Spirit, 68.6% ABV

Not available to buy

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Clear, just like water

Nose: Aromatic malt and yeast with some honey and earthy characteristics.

Palate: The honey and earthy characteristics of the nose carry through onto the palate making this quite a rich or heavy new spirit, unlike the light grappa-styles of some other distilleries.

Overall Impression: A quite different new spirit with its solid earthy style, but most enjoyable!



Old Pulteney, 12y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Gold with a hint of copper

Nose: Those maritime reminisces slowly come to the fore with salt and brine over heather and moss.

Palate: Everything the nose suggests with an extra hint of smoke, followed by very faint violets in the aftertaste.

Overall Impression: Old Pulteney tends to be ignored by many and not considered in the mainstream of purchases, but for me, this is a good and slightly different maritime whisky which deserves more credit than it tends to receive.



Old Pulteney, 12y, 40% ABV

Tasted at the distillery 3.11.2010

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Yellow gold, 9 carat

Nose: Immediately quite a fruity nose with malt, morning coffee biscuit and a light hint of plum. This really is a good solid nose and reminiscent of the new make that I previously tasted.

Palate: Smooth and slightly oily as it initially spreads across the palate and then opens to include that biscuit, but it's really quite a subtle whisky and surprisingly includes light redcurrant as it heads into the finish.

With 3 drops of water: The whisky opens into what I can only describe as "maritime light liquorice".

Finish: Slightly dry with some lingering biscuity fruit.

Overall Impression: A good solid whisky which I still believe is under-rated or ignored by many.

Revisited during January 2011 thanks to Lukasz of Alembic Comms. Ltd

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich (21ct) yellow gold

Nose: My first surprise here was that the fruit had quite a citrus tang on the nose, somewhere between orange and lime. Then came the malt along with some vanilla and finally a hint of plum, quite similar to Chinese plum wine.

Palate: Very smooth and slightly oily with biscuit, malt and that hint of plum.

Finish: Dry with plain biscuit and hints of generic fruit.

Overall Impression: I still find this a good standard or introductory-level whisky.



Old Pulteney, 17y, 46% ABV

Refill bourbon casks

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Very light and pale

Nose: Fresh, very light wood with also a hint of liquorice root. This is an extremely subtle whisky.

Palate: Smooth and creamy, but the light subtleness of the nose transcends the palate although a faint hint of fruit also makes an appearance.

With 3 drops of water: Apple and pear are added to the nose whilst the palate is enhanced a little more.

Finish: Medium ot long with more gentle fruit which now includes honeydew melon.

Overall Impression: Light and slightly fruity, it's very nice, very good!

Revisited during January 2011 thanks to Lukasz of Alembic Comms. Ltd

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow / straw

Nose: Very fresh and also initially very light with hints of wood and what I can only liken to one of those little tubs of Italian chopped herbs. These grow slightly in intensity after a couple of minutes.

Palate: Extremely smooth with a creamy mouth-feel and lots of summer fruits and berries.

Finish: Long and fruity with a style of apricot, peach and melon.

Overall Impression: It may be light and initially subtle, but this turns into a quite 'big' whisky which I still really like.


Old Pulteney, 17y, 46% ABV

Refill bourbon casks

Typical cost of this bottle;

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow gold

Nose: Fresh and herbal, with almost a mintiness. A hint of lime. Fresh green tea?

Palate: Light and fresh, this is leafy and slightly citrus at the same time. The fruit expands with time in the glass. It has a very creamy mouth-feel too.

Finish: Long and lightly fruity.

Overall Impression: Excellent, a very good whisky.



Old Pulteney, 21y, 46% ABV

1/3 Fino Sherry casks, 2/3 Refill bourbon casks

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: 21 carat gleaming gold

Nose: Initially a musty nuttiness followed quickly by the inclusion of freshly polished wood, but lightly so, not heavy and waxy. Finally, a slight spiciness appears with a tingle in the nostrils.

Palate: Although Fino Sherry casks only make up a third of this bottling, they really are predominant on the palate as they partner a very pleasant cocktail of fruit and spices.

With 3 drops of water: This Pulteney grows immensely on both nose and palate and also gains a smooth creaminess which makes for a delightful experience.

Finish: Long as it grows and lingers with a slight dryness.

Overall Impression: A real surprise with that Fino influence but it's good, very good!



Old Pulteney, 30y, 44% ABV

Enlarged (with 3 extra staves) refill bourbon cask

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Very light gold, pale yellow.

Nose: We begin with smooth and gentle malt and a suggestion of yeast, then after 3-4 minutes a quite dry, slightly bitter fruit comes to the fore. I suggest something along the lines of green apple or star fruit.

Palate: Once again very smooth, gentle and subtle but the fruit is no longer green apple or star fruit, it has more tropical depth which suggests some papaya along with a hint of redcurrant.

Finish: Long with that fruit lingering gently on the palate.

Overall Impression: This really is a subtle whisky and much lighter in colour, nose and palate than its 30 years may suggest, but nevertheless it's a very good whisky, just allow it a little time and you'll not be disappointed.



Old Pulteney, 1983, 21y, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle;


Nose: A Scottish golf course overlooking the Atlantic coast.

Palate: Smooth and creamy, peaches and ice cream.

With 3 drops of water: The nose doesn't really change, but the palate becomes more salty, really bringing out the maritime character which was initially promised in the nose.

Overall Impression: An excellent dram which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially with the water added.



Old Pulteney, Peated Cask, 57.4% ABV

Cask for distillery visitors only, 'fill your own bottle'

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review & distillery trip


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Pale yellow

Nose: Fruity and earthy but with the addition of some peat.

Palate: Wick has just been moved across Scotland to become an Atlantic coastal town as this is most definitely a Pulteney being savoured by an open bonfire on an Atlantic beach. It's rich and wholesome with fruit, salt,. sea, wood and peat.

Finish: Long peat.

Overall Impression: Surely different, positively excellent!



Old Pulteney, WK499, 52% ABV

Isabella Fortuna

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: 9ct Gold

Nose: Initially slightly sweet with vanilla, melon and heather blossom. AFter some minutes an aroma of fine soft Italian leather develops.

Palate: Begins with vanilla then tingles with slightly peppery green apple and a hint of leather.

With 4 drops of water: Nose is more intense with lots more flora. The palate tingles with light wood.

With 4 more drops of water: Some maritime elements of sea air, salt and jetty appear on the nose, whereas the palate is now softer and more gentle with more fruit.

With 4 more drops of water: Much more maritime nose whilst the palate is filled with heather and light wood.

Finish: Long, even longer with water.

Overall Impression: An excellent Old Pulteney with a great character, perhaps even Caithness personnified.



Old Pulteney, WK209, 46% ABV

Named after the herring fishing boat "Good Hope"

Typical cost of this bottle: Currently unannounced, but expected;

Picture is a "mock-up" of presentation from distillery


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich gold / light oak

Nose: My first impression here is proabably quite suitable to the WK209 herring boat itself as I'm drawn immediately to the idea of the bilge pump-room, with a vivid image of oil and other debris floating around in slightly stale sea-water, although this could possibly also be located under an old pier thanks to the inclusion of old wood aromas. There's even the rubbery presence of a dinghy too.

Palate: Extremely smooth and creamy with lots of fruit which I will describe as peach, papaya and something quite red, or even blackberry. That rubberiness from the nose seems to have turned into a hint of peat on the palate, but only a very slight one. Is there a dry sherry in here too? It tastes quite so.

With 4 drops of water: A much improved nose as the bilge pumps have dispersed to leave wood, more fruitiness and just a smidgen of light smoke. The palate seems to have an extra side order of peppered vanilla.

With 4 more drops of water: Why am I suddenly transported into a Chinese kitchen? Could it be steaming rice, perhaps even a suggestion of sea-weed, maybe aromas of sweet & sour sauce ..? As for the palate the pepperiness is enhanced and the fruit is now slightly bitter (pear & star-fruit?) and it's also a little drier.

Finish: Long, even longer with water, but also drier with water.

Overall Impression: I'm not too much of a fan of the initial bilge-pump effect on the nose, but I was pleased to see that disappear with just a few drops of water and turn into a better experience, but I still think it's a slightly uncoordinated whisky. Given the chance I'd buy a bottle to test it further as I still feel it has promise.





Independent Bottlers (IB)


G&M, Old Pulteney, 1990-2002, 59.4% ABV

Cask Series; Cask 5471

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Deep rich amber

Nose: Richly scorched wood, some molasses, dried currants with a suggestion of wild mushrooms and even hints of toasted marzipan.

Palate: An immediate explosion of peppery marzipan and well polished wood. This becomes more toasted towards the finish.

Finish: Very long with dry polished wood and slightly peppery fruit.

Overall Impression: Amazingly different, I love this one!






A few more distillery photos from Whisky Emporium







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