Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
Old Pulteney is not, as Wikipedia would have you believe, the most Northern distillery on the Scottish mainland. It comes damned close to that accolade but is pipped to the post by Wolfburn. To be fair, the official website for Old Pulteney describes it as 'one of the most Northerly distilleries' showing the importance of proper research. It does not matter what student me would have told you: that guy was an idiot and Wikipedia is fallible.
The distillery itself is nestled in the town of Wick, which can proudly boast of once being the herring capital of Europe. The sea, however, was important to this small Highland town for more than the fishing. It was the main method by which the distillery dispatched its whisky from this inhospitable region in days when the roads were not always accessible. Indeed, the seaside characteristic is very much at the heart of this whisky which has earned its place in the history books as The Maritime Malt.
As an interesting side note, this distillery was forced to close from 1930-1951 as a result a local parish prohibition on alcohol. The distillery now holds an annual charity ball celebrating the repeal of this lunacy and I for one agree: it would have been a shame to lose such a notable dram to puritanical whim.
As to the whisky I offer the following notes:
Nose: Very fruity with green apples to the front; sweet with a hint of vanilla; just a touch of salt at the end in a nod to the maritime heritage; very mild smoke.
Taste: Malted barley and cereal are prominent in a satisfying way that lingers in the whole mouth. The sweetness of this malt comes through in a definite manner in the form of fruit and butterscotch. Very slight spice leaves a tingle in the mouth.
Finish: The official tasting notes state that the finish is long. I didn't get this if I'm honest. Rather I would say I got a relatively short but exceptionally pleasing finish with prominent vanilla.
I have to admit I am rather pleased with myself with this one. I am relatively new to trying to make notes to go alongside whisky and this is the first time I have ever got the cereal notes on the palate straight away.
I will leave you with the words of the inimitable Jim Murray who said of this whisky - "Absolutely faultless as it picks the most fabulous course among the honeyed vanilla and barley which is so delicate words simply cannot do justice."