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The Old Pulteney 12 year - Sipping the 'Maritime Malt'

Updated on July 12, 2019
John Bolt profile image

John is a writer based in Portsmouth in the United Kingdom who enjoys writing on a wide range of personal and professional interests.

The Old Pulteney 12
The Old Pulteney 12 | Source


Distilled in the very north of Scotland, the Old Pulteney 12 year single malt scotch whisky is made in the Old Pulteney distillery in Wick, Scotland. Its callsign as the 'Maritime Malt' certainly hits the mark on all counts for its history, how it is made, and the taste as you will find.

I personally discovered Old Pulteney in January 2019 on New Year's Day. There is a Scottish tradition, known as the "First Footing" and this dram was the whisky of choice for that evening.

For my money, this is a highly enjoyable introductory single malt for anyone keen to expand their horizons as a whisky novice. That said, I personally enjoy it as the occasional dram.

A bit about the distillery

The Pulteney distillery is situated on the northeastern coast of Scotland, exposed to the North Sea. That also makes it the most northerly distilled scotch whisky on the British mainland – there are others further north in the Orkney Islands.

The community of Wick and its seaport has a long tradition as seafaring hub and was once the busiest herring port in Europe.

Not surprisingly perhaps, some of the fishermen became involved in the distillery as a means of income when the fishing fleet could not go to sea. Because of this heritage, The Old Pulteney bills itself as the ‘maritime malt’, because it is made by the sea side where strong winds and seas prevail and influence the production.

One of the peculiarities, or special qualities for that matter, in the production of Old Pulteney whisky are the copper wash stills used in the process. The copper kettle is known for its unique curvy shape, which appears on the bottle as well. There is also no ‘swan neck’, the angular tube of copper which brings the distilled spirit to the vats. All of this, it is said, contributes to the unique taste and flavor of the whisky.

No doubt this is true, but the cask aging process has another unique element to it – the proximity of the distillery to the sea. You can taste the sea salt too.

The Pulteney Distellery in Wick, Scotland
The Pulteney Distellery in Wick, Scotland | Source

The Old Pulteney 12 year

Produced at the Pulteney Distillery, the Old Pulteney 12 year is the entry level dram of the Old Pulteney core range. Others include the Old Pulteney 17 year and Old Pulteney 21 year.

It is a 40% whisky and in the UK where I live presently, 12 year is pretty cheap and widely available, usually at around £30 a bottle at time of press, but deals can be found online for as low as £20 to £25 a bottle.

The Old Pulteney 12 year, note the distinctive bottle neck
The Old Pulteney 12 year, note the distinctive bottle neck

Tasting it

Appearance of the whisky is a deep golden amber, almost like dark honey. On the nose, you can smell almost immediately some of the sea salt from the fact the distillery warehouse is on the coastline– this is a unique feature I have not found in many other whiskies.

On the nose you get a sweet smell and some smell of sea salt which, without sounding trite, really is reminiscent of being by the seaside. Diving deep, you get some fruity peary smells.

On the palate, you get some spicy peppery taste almost immediately. I also get some honey in the taste. After you swallow, you get some of the same sea salt taste from your nose. You may get some fruity taste, tangerines or citrus taste is common.

There is no peat or smoky taste, common of say some of the Islay whiskys - no such tastes or smells are commonly found here. For those who enjoy these tastes and flavours, this will be a different experience entirely. If peat and smoke are not for you, welcome home!

Final Thoughts

Since first discovering it, this is a dram I always go back to. I love the taste, and I love the story of how it is made. It is an easy to sip and a great introductory whisky. The flavours are complex enough for a beginner to enjoy and for a connoisseur to go back to. Also, the flavors of smoke and peat which are off putting to some are not present here.

You can enjoy it for your evening dram or any old time that suits you. Give it try, you will not be disappointed.


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