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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.