Old Pulteney 12 Year old

Lightweight lemon cake

Reviewed by
Connosr member:



7th Aug 2015

Reviewer rating:


About this score:

The average score for this whisky is 80.

Tasting Notes by Pierre_W

Old Pulteney distillery is located in Wick, a fishing village in the far north-east of Scotland, and was founded in 1826 by James Henderson. The part of town where the distillery is located is called Pulteneytown, named after Sir William Pulteney, a former governor of the British Fisheries Society. The Henderson family remained in control of the distillery until 1920 when it was sold to James Watson & Co. Ltd. from Dundee. Ownership then changed quickly again, first in 1923 when Old Pulteney was sold to John Dewar & Sons Ltd and one more time in 1925 when it was acquired by the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL). In 1930 the DCL decided to close the distillery, which it remained until 1951 when it was resurrected by Robert Cumming, a lawyer from Banff in Speyside. Cumming sold the distillery to Hiram Walker in 1955 who decided to renovate the distillery in 1958. The ubiquitous changes in ownership continued in 1961 when Old Pulteney was sold once more, this time to Allied Breweries (who changed their name to Allied Lyons in 1981 and to Allied Domecq plc in 1994). In 1995 the distillery was acquired by Inver House Distillers, only for ownership to change again when in 2001 Inver House were acquired by Pacific Spirits, a subsidiary of Thailand-based Great Oriole Group – who in 2006 sold Pacific Spirits including Old Pulteney distillery to International Beverage Holdings, the international arm of ThaiBev, Thailand's largest beverage company (they are the current owners). The 12-year old version was first introduced in 1997 and has been part of the distillery's core range ever since.

The nose is nutty and lightly malty to start with. I got a good load of vanilla and honey flavours, followed by lemon cake.

The palate is light-bodied and a tad spicy. There again are lemon flavours, together with honey and caramel. Later on notes of bitter oranges develop, with a touch of liquorice towards the end.

The finish is of medium length and pleasantly warming. The lemon flavours are back, to the point of becoming zesty.

Funnily this was my first ever Old Pulteney and I certainly had a fun tasting session. While I very much enjoyed the nose, the palate was a bit light for my taste, and I am not a big fan of the bitter orange flavours. Interestingly, I did not detect some of the flavours that this 'maritime' malt is known for, such as salt or brine – better luck next time? Thus, although this would benefit from being bottled at a higher ABV, it remains an immensely drinkable single malt. A commendable introduction to the Old Pulteney core range.


Whisky details


Old Pulteney






Young Sauternes



Alexsweden wrote:

Thank you, I've been looking to try this whisky for awhile now. Keep us updated about the development of the maritime notes!

07 August 2015 08:03

hunggar wrote:

I always enjoy reading your intros as well as your notes. Often I'm too lazy to research a distillery myself, so these quick historical summarizations make for good reading! Glad you like this one. I consider this good bang for buck, and a great daily dram. Thanks, @Pierre_W.

07 August 2015 08:38

Pierre_W wrote:

Thanks for your comments, @Alexsweden and @hunggar. I have had this on my list for a long, long time and finally got around to try it. I'll have the 17-year old up next and will keep you posted. @hunggar: This certainly is good value for money, a great sipping malt for warm summer evenings.

07 August 2015 09:09

OlJas wrote:

Yep, great value: an age-stated malt with character—albeit at 40%—for a price that's usually near the bottom of the single malt ladder.

I wonder if Old Pult has a lot of batch variation? Some people call it bottled sea water, while others taste no salt at all. (I'm sadly in that second group. I'd love to get big brine from it, but I never have.)

They've put out tons of NAS one-offs over the past few years. Has anyone spent enough time with them—or with the reviews—to know which ones are worthwhile and might deliver some of that maritime goodness? I've just paid passing attention to a review or two and mostly picked up that many of them are average at best.

07 August 2015 09:25

OlJas wrote:

Actually, I always wonder about these little history lessons and distillery profiles that people preface their reviews with. Except for the rare (non-existent?) cases of people doing original research just for a Connosr review, these must all just be cribbed from Wikipedia or the distillery website or WhiskyFun or something, right?

The first half of this one, for example, appears to be a slight rephrasing of the info on the distillery owner's website: http://www.interbevgroup.com/group-inver-house-distilleries.php

I don't mean this to be a dig on Pierre_W. Everyone does this. I'm just wondering, why? To me it just seems like a bit of light plagiarism that's prone to introducing errors that get passed on to the next generation of copy-and-pasters. (Purple monkey dishwasher.)

I think this is what links are for.

07 August 2015 09:40

hunggar wrote:

@OlJas, I've had the Clipper and sampled the Navigator. Neither is impressive, but neither is terrible either. My favorite to date from Pulteney's one-off bottlings has been the Flotilla, which was a vintage release from 2000. 12 Years old if I'm not mistaken, so not really NAS. So far I've yet to find anything that beats the core range, especially if we're factoring in price. Then again, even the 17 year old has gotten a bit too expensive of late imo.

07 August 2015 09:40

Pierre_W wrote:

Thanks for your comments, @OlJas. The reason why I add information on the distilleries is... because I like to do that. What other reason could there be? From my perspective a review is just so complete if it contains a little bit of background on the distillery. As I do not work in the industry the research is of course not my own, and my two main sources of information are the Malt Whisky Yearbook together with distillery websites. You are welcome to call this plagiarism, for me this is simply additional information to set the stage for the liquid to be tasted. Btw, no need to read any reviews that contain a distillery profile, right?

07 August 2015 12:47

hunggar wrote:

@OlJas, as you mentioned, I'm sure much of the information on Connosr is sourced. This site is dedicated to amateur whisky reviews, so I don't hold it to the highest standards of journalistic integrity. I quite appreciate how much of the information is simplified and summarized in reviews like this, as I rarely have the time or interest to delve into a distillery's history myself.

That being said, there is merit to your "purple monkey dishwasher" argument. But if it turns out a distillery actually traded hands in 1827 instead of 1826, for example, I personally won't feel too gypped by reviews like this. However if a reviewer consistently gets things wrong, then I suppose he/she would lose some credibility for not doing enough homework.

07 August 2015 14:24

Nozinan wrote:

Given the discussion about accuracy, I felt the need to do some original research of primary sources. In fact, in the episode, the original message is accurately convaeyed, but with the addition of the words "purple monkey dishwasher" at the end.

So going by that principle, one would not worry about original information being changed, only additional information being inserted.

08 August 2015 01:27

Cunundrum wrote:

Last time I sipped an Old P, it was a 17. Had a very heavy gauze bandage flavor. I didn't much care for it, so I haven't gone for another 17. The 21 I found too sweet. As for the 12, it was a smashing bargain in my state a few years back at $38 per bottle. I did indulge in it more than I would have otherwise back then.

During a two year interval the price went up gradually as the deliciousness seemed to decline. Was it the law of diminishing returns in effect? Perhaps. The same thing happened to HP 12 around the same time. I'm happy to report that Ardbeg 10 still continues to satisfy.

And if Ardbeg's top brass takes away the 10 year only to replace it with yet another NAS, then I shall surely walk out into the field behind my home and scream . . or, more than likely, sigh.

I really do value having a 10-16 year guarantee printed on the labels of the lower shelf whiskies in my liquor cabinet. And that goes triple for Lagavulin.

08 August 2015 01:59

OlJas wrote:

Nozinan, I'm pretty tickled that you looked up that old Simpsons episode. Actually, I'm sitting here cackling just a little bit.

In case you were never a watcher of that show in its heydey (or maybe even these days—I don't know—I've hardly watched it in 15-20 years), one of its most common gags was to set up a situation that has a 100% expected outcome in the minds of the audience, and then ironically play against that one way or another. So the townsfolk repeat a message over and over, "telephone"-style, and you expect the output to be totally garbled. But instead it's completely accurate—but then it has "purple monkey dishwasher" inexplicably attached to the end.

What this means for whisky reviews, I'm not sure. Except, did you know Pulteney is the smallest distillery in Speyside?

09 August 2015 23:15

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