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Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Average score from 44 reviews and 180 ratings 81

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Old Pulteney
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

This is an now-almost-empty bottle that I acquired at auction last year - not the new updated packaging - and unfortunately the cork disintegrated. I've had this a few times at bars but never had a bottle at home that I've reviewed before.

The colour is a light caramel. Nice and briny on the nose, with lots of toffee, some vanilla, hazelnut and deep oak (oakier than most 12yo malts, methinks). Hickory. Dark honey. Curiously, I get canned pineapple. Most predominantly though is the briny sea salt - and then you add water and it becomes musty, almost smoky. It's a great nose as always.

On the palate we have a bit more spice (some pepper, some chilli and still primarily brine) with that caramel and vanilla from the bourbon cask. Not quite as oaky as on the nose. Silky, creamy mouthfeel. With time it gets quite salty, almost peaty - but it's very nicely balanced due to a firm maltiness in the background. A few drops of water gives you more brine and spice - exciting!

The medium length finish has late-arriving spice, with gentle hints of oak and coffee grounds, but disappears far too quickly with none of the robustness of the nose and palate (though with water the spice hangs around a bit longer). Not up to the level of the now-defunct 21yo but an absolutely solid malt.

@talexander - Nice review of one of my staples. Only wish we could get it at 43% but even at 40% it holds up well, probably due to that intrinsic maltiness you highlight. Well-priced too!

@Nozinan Interesting - I have no idea what raw (or not raw) gefilte fish smells like so I cannot comment. Next time you have it, invite me and I'll pick up some Old Pulteney and bring it over!


The marketing line on their website reads - On the most northerly shores of Scotland, where the North Sea meets the Caithness coast, there is a town; home to a whisky which captures the very essence of its location. This is Wick and we are Old Pulteney; the maritime malt. All true ... not too pretentious. I like Old Pulteney, and not just for their humility.

Nose Woody sweet caramel. Maple syrup and buttery pancakes. Red apples, mown grass and a slight waft of salty brine.

Palate The briney sea salt is stronger here, but well balanced with syrupy caramel adding sweetness whilst gently spiced wood notes add a certain complexity to the whole experience. A great palate that would have held up better at a higher abv.

Finish Fresh apple and an earthy mown grass note come to the fore before quickly fading to sea air accompanied by maybe a fresh wood fires smoke from a distance.

A great, inexpensive dram that can do little wrong in my book. There’s enough complexity here to keep me interested whilst keeping a certain level of familiarity. Wonderful dram from the last style of bottles, I just wish the distillery had kept its old run of bottles (17,21) rather than moving to mostly NAS.

Final word: YUM


@Victor i did not know that. It’s one of my favourite distilleries, weirdly it’s the 17 that was favourite of the range for me rather than the 21 .... I’m looking forward to seeing what the 15, 18 and 25 bring to the table.

Haha yes I make you right there ... it’s only 40% here (or atleast this bottling is) and I’m not complaining honestly. The price (£30 ish) makes this real good value for money even at 40%... but the 43% you mention makes my mouth water a little....

@conorrob - I have a soft spot for the 12 and think it's one of the best vfm whiskys in the UK. I've had bottles better than others but I'd always score this at least 83-4. Be interesting to see if the new versions are as good.


This is certainly not my first Old Pulteney 12, in fact, thinking about it I could have bought more bottles of this than any other malt . . . hmm? Maybe. Now the second most northerly distillery on the bonnie Scottish mainland - Wolfburn now has that particular title - Old Pulteney is generally known for a 'Maritime' profile.

This review has a literal 'wee drop' of water and is from a recent batch straight off the supermarket shelves for Father's day! It's sat about twenty minutes before getting stuck in . . .

Nose: Very slightly spirity, honey, salt with a coastal air, as opposed to seaweed/rock pool, tang. Quite fruity with pineapple, green apple and a touch of ginger. I believe this is unpeated and from 100% bourbon casks but I do get a red fruit or berry note as well. Vanilla, toffee (hint of Werther's) and some soft oak. Malty biscuits.

Taste: Quite sweet arrival and the pineapple tickles the tongue, then the toffee begins to emerge and then the ginger. Some of that digestive biscuit's there as well. I've almost inadvertently swallowed a thirsty fly on that last sip but it stuck on my lip . . . lovely . . . pressing on . . .

Finish: Medium-ish. Brine and fairly tanninic oak but it's not overly bitter - just this side of the line for me.

You can only judge a malt on what's in front of you, and how you're tasting/nosing at the time; but I will say that whilst this isn't quite as stellar as my last bottle was it's still very enjoyable. It's easy drinking but also has enough complexity and balance to keep an enthusiast interested and engaged. It is also widely available and usually retails at around £25 in the UK, so excellent value for money at this end; shame about the presentation but, to be fair to OP 12, it doesn't seem to diminish the quality all that much. I would love to try this in a craft presentation though . . .

Another entertaining review - and we're all pleased you didn't swallow the fly - do you know the song about that? (There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...). I agree on the presentation, but as you say, it doesn't take away from the contents.

@RikS - I think I know what you mean although I might describe that more as the malty biscuit thing (horses for courses!) I also tend to find that whiskys presented the way OP 12 is tend to 'flatten out' quicker than craft ones.


A few days ago I was at Spirit of Toronto, and at the event I attended 2 masterclasses. At the Wiser's masterclass I was able to take enough notes for a review on one expression, and thanks to @paddockjudge I have a small sample to compare to last year's release (which I will do soon, hopefully). I was also able to come away with a half ounce of the 35 YO which will eventually makes its way into a review.

In the Highland masterclass, having lost interest in what was very much more of a marketing talk than in Livermore's, I sniffed ahead to the 12 year Old Pulteney and was dismayed. It really attracted my interest and I focused sufficiently on it to prepare a short review. Here goes:


How many of you make your own gefilte fish for Passover? If you do then you will know the distinct smell of home-ground whitefish, pike and carp in an exact 6:5:1 ratio (6 pounds in total minus bones), mixed with 2 medium onions, eggs and matzoh meal. Yes. At first I thought it was cabbage. But then I realized it was the raw fish mix, made that little bit more pungent by the onion.

The gefilte fish mix nose did dissipate afte about 30 minutes (depends on how long it was poured before we were seated... not long), then there was some pleasant fruit, with apple and baking spices and honey. I think @paddockjudge mentioned pears but he might have said peaches. The gefilte fish never really went away completely


A bit thin (it is, after all, bottled at a whopping 40%), sweet, less complex than the nose. I think I got some banana..


All my notes say is "astringent".

Was this an interesting whisky? Yes

Do I like Gefilte fish? Yes

Do I like the smell of either raw or cooking gefilte fish? NO!

I would not buy this whisky. If offered I would probably pass, unless it was paired with.... gefilte fish.

I've known 2 bottles of Old Pulteney 12 which were quite different from one another. Yours sounds like a third sort of experience. I, and everybody else who ever had any, loved the first bottle I had. The second bottle seemed a little off, a bit cluttered with some not so mellow notes added to the usual good malt and salt ones. The first bottle of OP12 I had I could not discern any peat, nor any wine. The second bottle, my sister's, seems to show a little of both, but is not nearly as well-integrated. The second bottle made me sad, because I wanted to be confidant of being able to buy more of the first bottle's taste. On the other side of the ledger my sister's bottle of Old Pulteney Navigator started out not so harmonious, but has just gotten more and more delicious with air time.

The OP12 we get here in the US (mid-Atlantic region) is all 43% ABV.

@Nozinan, it was peaches, Early Redhaven peaches, not yet completey ripened....The 25 YO Old Pulteney was nice, slightly heavy on the oak - just the way I like it.


NOSE: The nose is very complex indeed! It has two main components working harmoniously together: a sweet one and a savory one, with the sweet one being slightly more prominent. Very delicate and sugary on the nose. Vanilla whipped cream mixed with green apples, golden raisins and orange flesh with lemon zest and lemon pith on top of it all. There's also a touch of sourness which reminds me of Greek yogurt with some fruits in it. As time goes by, you may also notice some caramelized popcorn, freshly baked pastry,creme brulee, and overripe bananas. With all this harmonious sweetness you're getting a subtle, yet quite noticeable note of fresh sea water which reminds me a lot of Talisker 10. A hint of pickled cucumber, fresh ginger and pepper. Don't give this one too much air time, since it gets too zesty on the nose for my liking. 23/25

TASTE: a lot of vanilla, creamy, malty, dried fruits: golden raisins and dried apricots with some delightful marzipan and a pinch of salt. A very balanced combination of fruits with understated saltiness. Don't let this one sit for too long, since the taste tends to get more zesty. 22/25

FINISH: soft, freshly baked croissant with toasted almonds, soft spices. Medium-long and delicate finish. 21/25

BALANCE: 24/25

THE empty glass smells of yeasty pizza dough.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: In my opinion, this whisky is perfectly balanced from beginning to end. It offers a lot of complexity. I can see why Ralfy spoke so highly of this seemingly basic mass-produced single malt. Delicious!

I have just finished a bottle of OP12 enjoyed it from first to last drop the savoury salty note does balance the honey sweetness. Glad to find another entry level malt I really like.

Will be getting the 17 sometime soon the 21 is a bit pricey for me at the moment.

This is pretty much the only unpeated scotch that I've found to be buying over and over. Good solid affordable stuff!


I opened this 70 cl bottle in March of 2015, and took notes during different stages of bottle levels. At first opening, the nose and taste were subdued, and I wondered why I bought it. But after a few weeks it opened up. The first and second thirds of the bottle were the tastiest. At its best, it is a rich, somewhat briny and sour, powerful highland malt.

Color: light gold, medium running legs

Nose: briny sweet malt, hints of pineapple, grapefruit and honey. Later stages of the bottle yielded a bouquet of tangy citrus (maybe lemon), sweet fruit, a mineral note, cola, hint of sherry, ghosts of oak, vanilla and wood smoke

Taste: oily buttery feel, medium bodied, sweet and sour fruit, could be pineapple, cinnamon, pepper, slightly bitter but not unpleasant. I find the taste to be pretty sour, too sour for my liking. Gave me slight heartburn. Maybe its and acidic whisky, I don't know.

Finish: medium length, peppery, tongue coating sweetness, sour

I'm down to my final quarter of this bottle, and finding it difficult to finish. But overall, it was an educating malt experience.

@jack09, thanks for your very nice review. It is always good when a reviewer can give perspective by commenting on a bottle over its lifetime. I prefer when possible to do this sort of review myself. I wish that all of my reviews were of this long-term perspective variety, but it is a very big commitment to buy and consume a bottle of every whisky we review,...and to wait patiently over long periods of time before commenting upon them.

I like Old Pulteney products quite a lot, but I have found some significant variation in Old Pulteney products at times. This sour theme you mentioned is one of them. Not all Old Pulteneys, nor all Old Pulteney 12 yos drift toward the sour. The ones which do so have lost the sweet balance, and are not as desirable to my taste. I also once had a taste of Old Pulteney 17 yo which was overpoweringly briney. Old Pulteney 17 is a whisky which is usually great, but that particular bottle also had lost any semblance of balance among the flavours.

Every batch, every bottle, of whisky is its own world...and that world changes and evolves over the course of the air contact that that bottle has.


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.

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.

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?


Bottle bought on a shopping trip to Sweden, this was one of few whisky bottles with a significantly lower price than in Norway. As is, £19 is a large enough 'discount' to grab a bottle every time you're in Sweden.

The distillery is located in the coastal city of Wick, in the far north part of Scotland. The bottle promises a robust and delicate whisky with a hint of sea air.

Nose: Honey, quite a bit of sweetness, I found the whisky to be quite fruity, with some oak influence. The salt in Old Pulteney is fairly balanced against the other aromas, and nothing seems to be out of place. There is no smoke to be found in this one.

Palate: Once again with the honey, followed by mellow notes of citrus. Salt, they do not exaggerate when they claim this has a hint of sea air, but Old Pulteney is nothing like those bottles of brine that I've tried before. All of this is followed by salted caramel and a nice, clear malt tones. Overall, I find Old Pulteney 12 YO to be somewhat sharp and spicy, and perhaps this is where the aforementioned robustness hails from. The spice and heat in this, while nowhere near as potent, reminds me of what I got from a rye whiskey. This certainly adds a bit to the claimed robustness of the whisky.

Finish: Medium length, the malt is taking the center stage, along with a hint of oak. Salt and malt is gradually becoming the main flavours here, with the sweet notes slowly fading away.

Comment: If this was cheaper in Norway, it'd probably rank as my go-to dram. Old Pulteney got salt, sweetness and loads of character and features I've not yet found in other malts. At the same time, they add E150 and use chill filtering, which is completely unnecessary. That said, this is a lovely whisky – I just wish they would up the percentage.

I really enjoy this, but at the same time, I keep thinking "what if this was bottled at 46%?"

Ah. By brine, I'm speaking comparatively to other, more mineral tasting whiskies. I don't really have any specific bottle in mind, but as you say, Springbank (from what little I've tried), perhaps Talisker and a few of the Islay ones?

How about keeping one bottle of "maritime whisky" for when you're near the sea/on an island or something like that? And only drink it on those occasions. I'm very much considering taking a bottle of Old Pulteney (The 12 or perhaps even the 17) and store in the family cottage by the sea.

What are these other bottles of brine you speak of?

Brine is one of my favorite tastes in a whisky, but it seems like it's getting harder to feel that sea blast the more I drink different whiskies. I used to get it big time from Springbank, but not so much anymore. I worry that I'm becoming desensitized to it. Even so, I'm always keen to find a new bottle that promises it.


Ambre. Nez: alcool. Céréale. Caramel. Salin. Bois. Fruité. Pomme cuite. Pâte à tarte. Meringue. Agrume (mandarine, citron). Bouche: très sucré. Très délicat. Pâte à biscuit. Céréale (farine). Caramel au beurre salé. Très bien.


Nose: grass, sea air, malt, marzipan. On the palate it's fresh, dry, little bit salty and peppery. Finish is herbal and short. There ist everything ok with this whisky, just don't expect too much. Perfect for beginners.


Nose – Firstly very soft, icing sugar, citrus, orange peel and sweet orange marmalade, brine and salty sea air in the background, a hint of apple juice and dry vanilla. With water it becomes yeasty and dusty, freshly baked dough, hops, a touch of wood smoke, pollen, floral notes and dry honey.

­Palate – Initial arrival is bittersweet orange marmalade and icing sugar, then sharp lemons, crisp apples, then lots of salt. A background of honey and biscuits, hint of black tea and fennel and some peppery spice toward the end. Medium to full bodied and mouth filling.

­Finish – More pronounced dry saltiness, some bitter green oak and roasted nuts, oranges and lots of honey returns in a long, warm, drying finish.

­I love the complex balance of sweet, salty and bitter flavours in this Old Pulteney. It is very enjoyable but lacks intensity of flavour compared to other malts. Perhaps a higher abv would help, but for the price I think this is one of the best malts out there.


Fresh bottle: An "old sneakers" smell, like I've found in the HP 12 and Juras.

Nose1: Strange but not unpleasant. Creme fraiche (or sour cream) from a fresh pour. Then the sneakers aroma shows other elusive elements: imagine smoked cheese and cactus. After breathing, some saltiness evokes murky seawater, but more subdued: think cardboard and salted macadamia nuts.

Nose2: If you're patient... the nose improves substantially. Fruits matching the color of the whisky emerge from the "fog": golden raisin, mushy yellow apple, some honey lurking beneath, and subtle pineapple.

Palate (fresh bottle): The flavors also seem fogged, by marshmallow/butter that suppresses the sourish golden raisins and apple. (Grass and pineapple join, after just a day of opening.) It dilutes into smoother banana cream into the finish. Although muted on the tongue, the fruits emerge at the back of the mouth, seeming tart and even a little bitter like almond slivers.

Palate (1 month): Somehow sea salt seems more obvious with age. The malt has now opened up-- packed with the flavors of the yellow fruits, hay, vanilla, and almond. The aging has earned this an extra point.

Finish: Toasty marshmallow in the throat; those tart fruits tickle the tongue. Drier grassiness creeps in, revealing the youth and preventing a higher score.

The overall experience is a mixture of positive and confusing sensations, but overall I think this is a (very) good purchase. The interesting nose does not beckon, but the palate shines: that interplay of vanilla, yellow fruit, and almond provide balance a high quality experience. I will put this away and look forward to enjoying it in the summer.

The first similar malts I think of are the (mentioned) young Juras and the HP12. They share the strange initial aroma and other aspects of character. I prefer the Pulteney to these, because of palate balance and complexity. Look to the Arran 10 (another excellent value) if you want similar but more overt flavors and an improved nose. If you seek intrigue, I could also point to the Glenfarclas 10. The 10yo Glenfarclas and Glenmorangie may be my top young malts, but this Pulteney doesn't fall too far behind; I think it is a saltier and livelier counterpart that provides good value.

Thanks for the feedback, guys. @Victor , In a way you're right, maybe I should try to as concise as my earliest reviews. How about: Nose=smoked cheese + golden fruits + murkiness. Palate= tart golden fruits + marshmallow + drop of ocean. (But still, I think at least the fresh bottle has "layers", and the sensations don't just come all at once and in the same place.)

@MCM I'm picking up on more indications that the Balvenie is worth trying, thanks for the tip. About the 12 vs 17, I think it depends on your habits (1 dram/week?) and of course experience as TpR says. For me, I would get the 17 next time as I think it actually is similar but all around better.

@TpR Great input to hear about the variations. I haven't got around to Balblair yet, but definitely will.

Very nice review. I know they're probably different animals, but I've been trying to decide between the Pulteney 12 and 17. You mention young malts; I'm currently loving a bottle of Balvenie 12 year single barrel.


One of the best 10/12 year old highland whiskies in my opinion. Really distinctive flavour profile with lots of barley and salt. Potent, but lovely nose and very moorish. Cracking stuff for the price as well. Really looking forward to trying the 17 year old.

Thanks @Victor. Unfortunately, I haven't tried the 17 yet, although it is one of the few at the top of my wish list! I really must get around to trying a range of Pulteneys as, for me, it stands out as one of the whiskies with the most simple and straightforward, yet characterful tastes. I think that the same can be said for whiskies like laphroaig, Talisker and Bowmore as well, and that sort of straightforward individual character is what I find most appealing in discovering new whiskies. I find it quite unusual to find that standout character in whiskies that aren't heavily peated, which is why I particularly love the OP i think.

@AndyC, back in the days when I did a lot of 25-whisky tastings with relative noobies, I always used to use Old Pulteney 12 yo as my first whisky of the day, and as my exemplar of "THIS is what barley tastes like." Malt and brine, I would tell them, were what they would taste with Old Pulteney 12 yo. And almost every one of them liked Old Pulteney 12 yo quite a lot.


This is light and sweet. Very delicate. Malty. Fruits like pineapple and lemons. Sweet sherry, but not on your face. A bit herbal. Slight white pepper. Short to medium finish. The salt is there, however, If it was more robust, it wouldn't be noticeable. It only took about an hour in my decanter to settle down. Just add a teaspoon of water and it will become one of the smoothest,sweetest whiskies you'll ever have.


Old Pulteney is the quintessential coastal distillery. Unfortunately I haven’t tried much of their core lineup. I’ve been enjoying a bottle of the 17 that I bought a few months back. In fact, I need to rewrite my review for the 17 with a higher mark, as it’s grown on me quite a lot. Anyway, I’ve only recently gotten my hands on the 12, in the form of a 50 ml sample bottle. I took this opportunity to taste the 12 and 17 side by side. The 12 has some pretty big shoes to fill, so let’s see how it stands up. This review will largely be a contrast between these two presentations.

Nose: Crisp honey and gentle apples. Lovely maritime saltiness. Cream. Considerably more fruity than the 17. Cereal and orange. Really nice and crisp.

Palate: Quite spicy and sharp, but never biting. Creamy, buttery mouthfeel. Deep, rich honey. Like the 17, there’s heaps of salt and white pepper in here. A subdued malty note also makes an appearance.

Finish: Fruit kicks in here. Apples and pears, mainly, with a hint of pineapple. This dram has quite a buttery character. The peppery note fades gradually throughout the medium-long finish. Meanwhile, the malt note seems to persist. The lingering flavours are malty and salty, with a fleeting honeyed sweetness. Great.

This is definitely OP. The salt, the malt, the coastal notes, the gentle sweetness, the white pepper. All of these components are crisp and clean. Is it as good as the 17? I think it’s as good, yes. The 12 is a bit more loud and proud. The 17 is also absolutely delicious. It’s more rounded, calm, and mature. Where the 12 is sharper and spicier, the 17 is smoother and oakier. Where the 12 is dynamic, the 17 is more steady. Despite the differences, these are very much of the same ilk. Brilliantly salty, coastal, and charming. At this point, I’m just itching to try the 21 yo. Gotta love OP.

I've been doing some archive digging regarding my own soon-to-come review of OP. I was having trouble putting words on some parts of the palate, especially the spicy part. I wanted to attribute it to something other than the whisky being "robust" or "rugged".

Reading your review helped me indirectly, the 12YO reminds me of the spices I identify with rye whiskies (weird, I know!).

A well written and quality review, by the way!

@Fiberfar, thanks! I'll have to look for those rye spices when I next try it. I look forward to your review!


The title to this review suits this whisky perfectly, it's as crisp as fresh seashore winter breeze. It's all in there in your glass, spewing it's maritime character at you. It certainly has it's definite character and it spells coastal, in HUGE letters.

I already used this whisky as a point of reference and landmark for coastal/island malts. It sits on the very edge of the salt scale. To put this into perspective for the less experienced, if bruichladdich sits on the other end and you got the likes of tobermory (and older scapas in the middle) you'll get it. Although if you haven't tried these other malts, i guess what i am trying to convey is that this is a distinct type of saltiness (or salinity) this isn't heavy, zesty or dense salt (bruichladdich) but light, crisp and clean.

I needed to put the saltiness into words because: First, it defines the body here and is the kick in the same way as peat is for the likes of Ardbeg and Laphroaig. Secondly, it can come across as a bit vague when some refer to the salt note in a whisky, that is if you aren't experienced.

So now that we have that out of the way here's the tasting notes:

Nose: Maritime storms, seabreezes with a bucketload of iodine. Green and red apples, with a huge orange note. Green gauge, with more fruits, tropical this time: Guava and pineapple! A very light and fresh grain supports the fruit.

Palate: BOOM! There it is again, a summer solstice daylight sea storm of iodine and crystal clear salt.. crystals. The salt is nearly overpowering but the malt is barely able to hold the chaos at bay. The fruit then takes over, first the apple note comes forth but more complex than on the nose, with pears and pear-drops. Then tropical fruits that are mainly composed of a big pineapple note, but just a few seconds after it's arrival we enter the eye of the storm, an eye of mandarin, tangerine and satsumas!

Finish: The satsuma&orange note holds and perpetuates a long finish but doesnt let anything but the malt in with it. A few tropical fruits come back in a silent tandem but the satsumas are very dominant.

For it's price tag and it's strength, this is a BIG whisky. I like it, it doesn't take any prisoners, it has it's definite character and it's sticks with it. But behind the, nearly chaotic, salty and mandarin blasts lies a composed complexity. To support this complexity this whisky also benefits from a very long finish.

I know Old Pulteney has already it's share of prizes and accolades, and although undeserved by some, not fans of the style, or sceptical as to the rumors of some prizes being bought. There is no escaping that this is good stuff. The quality makes itself evident from the first whiff to the lengthy finish. Hope to investigate the prized older brothers but considering the prize the standard 12 year old is amazing bang-for-the-buck.

It's just a very, very good quality malt, simple as that!

Always good to see a nice review of Old Pulteney 12 yo. A few of us on Connosr have been talking up this whisky for 2 1/2 years or so, before Mr. Murray made Old Pulteney 21 famous. I don't see OP12 as quite as complex as you do, @Lifewaterforce, but I have always loved it. I have usually used it as the very first whisky I introduce when giving a tasting of 25 whiskies in an afternoon/evening. Very nearly everyone I have had try it likes it a lot. I can't say that for most whiskies.

Oddly, I still haven't done a review of it...I probably will do so in my next 226 reviews. I am glad to see that you are also a fan of Old Pulteney 12.

Thanks for the very flattering feedback, allways heartwarming to hear :) @systemdown : It seems most of us maltmaniacs can agree on, beside the flavour, is that you get a distinct quality impression. @Nemesis101 : The saltiness seem to act as a mask, a strength in terms of boldness or character but maybe dummies the delicate flavour? You can't love them all @Victor :Thanks, i think the reason i feel that way is because i don't have huge experience yet with OP's (and in general) so i was rapidly impressed with the clean and clear quality that made the underlying flavours bigger, the mandarin note was probably only mandarin, but it seem to evolve somehow.

Will expand my experience with the 17 and 21 when i get a little more cash-margin ;)


Old Pulteney 12 year old was quite mediocre but still an okay whisky. Didn't offer much complexity or character for it's price range you won't go wrong either.

Old Pulteney 12 yrs was kinda funny mix of two themes not so close to each other. It was a mix of salty sea air kind of minerals and floral/forest berries.

So even though the taste and scents didn't explode mind blowingly, Old Pulteney 12 offered a nice ride into 'whisky seasides and forests'.

I felt like a hobbit marching through the Shire (homeland of the Hobbits) or swimming in the northwestern Eriador shoresides.

Nose: Quite bitter and oaky with berries and some floral feel. Like sniffing junipers and lingonberries.

Taste: The feel of oak and salty minerals are strong. Hints of toffee and spices.

Finish: Spicy and oaky dry, medium long.

Balance: Very steady whisky. Everything seems to be working coherently, yet without any big character. Okay dram.


Nose: Macadamia, cashews, Grape Nuts, clover blossom, cilantro, old comic book collection from the 1970's (smell of the paper).

Palate: Wet oak leaves, nutty goodness, caramel, lingering oak, celery, gruyere cheese, cracked pepper corn, old leather-bound books.

Finish: The oak yields to slight hints of sage and lemon. Nice length for a 12 year (medium long).

OP12 is also quite good with food, I might add, particularly late night snacks. Over the past week, it has gone especially well with my recent "after midnight indulgence" of imported cheeses, onions, crackers, heirloom tomatoes, capers, and white truffle oil on water crackers.

Yes, this bottle could certainly function as an "every day dram." No, it's not the best whisky you will ever taste (whereas the 21 year is damned near despite being a little too sweet in 2013 as compared to a few years earlier), but the "buzz" of the 12 year is very kind indeed.

Speaking of "the buzz," you know, that factor is seldom mentioned in reviews. Different whiskies do generate different alcoholic effects. The OP delivers a nice mellow controlled buzz that sustains well over time.

I don't care what anyone tells me: different single malt scotches do make one feel different, at least to some extent. The OP delivers a very nice buzz without making one feel overwrought or overtaxed by the alcohol. It is quite good to balance and sustain, surfing a wave of contentment and relaxation. By that, I mean to say that it is steady and not "up and down" like some others.

I also find that OP12 goes very well with a pint or two of beer at the pub. Last night, I enjoyed a glass of OP12 and a pint of Old Speckled Hen, along with a half order of fish and chips. This combination of food and drink was extremely satisfying outdoors, looking out over the river with the sun shining and actually contributing some warmth to the evening. It was quite nice to feel some warm sunshine and drink my cold beer after a long winter of that kept me indoors and only now is just letting up in Portland, even though technically we are already well into spring.

The consistency of the OP 12 has also been there from bottle to bottle down through the years, while the current value is virtually unbeatable for the price I paid in Oregon.

Thank you, OP. You are gentlemen, gentlewomen, and scholars. Keep up the quality! Keep up the consistency! Don't let us down like some other distillers (which I won't mention) that ended up resting on their laurels and then scooting along on their behinds for a time with scotch offerings that began to lag in terms of quality. If price is King, then consistency is Queen! Don't raise your prices just because Jim Murray extoled the virtue of your 21 year offering a little while back. I like paying $40 (or forty "clams," as they say on the Oregon coast) for a bottle of your 12 year, and hope to do so for a few more years. . . .


Old Pulteney combines what must have been years of cold ocean wind swept days and contrasting shorter summers that brought honeyed flowers. You can taste both the summer and the deep foggy seaside winter in this drink. It is not very complex but the contrasts between the earthy seaside salt and the hints of vanilla and sweet flowers keeps me coming back.


Old Pulteney 12 @Day 0, 2012-05-28

A U.K. import, added as a "filler" in a special shipment from Whisky Online, May 2012. My first Pulteney! A steal at 19 GBP (about AU $30).

Nose: Delicate. Sweet Fruity - pears and a trio of apple, pineapple and custard apple. A hint of smoke. Refreshing and appetizing. This is marketed as a "coastal" malt, but the coast is nowhere near as apparent on the nose as, say, an Island whisky such as Talisker. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation on preconceptions! With water: Lemon grass, floral, even a hint of something herbaceous?

Taste: Fruity, briny, zesty, engaging, tart without being bitter. Just when you think this lively delivery will overpower, it settles down marvelously on the palate allowing the fullness of flavour to be heard. With water: Lemon zest, bitter citrus development, very warming.

Finish: Short but well balanced, effortless finish where the rich taste and controlled bitter tartness lingers awhile to savour.

Balance: Very well balanced across the fruity and complex nose, the engaging delivery with robust flavours developing on the palate - one of those malts that effortlessly marries citrus zest, brine and sweet barley to great effect.

Score: N22 T22 F20 B23 = 87

Another dram, please! I think this bottle will disappear rather quickly over winter (well, if one is allowed to call it that in sub-tropical Australia).

Old Pulteney 12 @1 Week

Nose: Sweet apple cider, rose water, milk chocolate, melon, orange juice, table grapes - a "fruit and nut" chocolate block with a shot of Cointreau. A whiff of briney sea air and a just a hint of smoke. Patience really rewards. Beautiful.

Taste: Smooth, oily, rich delivery of perfectly weighted barley, fruit, gentle oak tang and chocolate amidst a background of distant peat. Moving this around the palate engages all the taste buds with sweet barley sugars, citrus, spice and brine; a full and robust dram. Brilliant!

Finish: Oak spice, malt, brine, citrus bitters, bourbon wood notes. Trails off slowly and measured, as to impart all of its warmth and complexity to the last embers. Perfect bitter-sweet balance with a pleasing dryness and some lingering spices.

Balance: The nose has something for everyone and entices no end. Far from false advertising, the palate picks up and continues the theme of the nose and delivers every sensation promised. The robustness and richness of this whisky is actually quite outstanding given the standard 40% bottling strength - if this was chill filtered then it must have been done only to a minimal degree as the amount of oil present is exceptional, the oils carry all departments and elevate them to a degree that I can only imagine is not surpassed for any whisky's entry-level standard bottling. My new benchmark has been set.

Score: N23 T24 F23 B24 = 94

As usual I don't have the notes handy from the previous tasting, but I know this has opened up greatly with only a week to breathe. Truly one to savour. I wonder if this can get even better with more time?

Old Pulteney 12 @1 Month

Nose: Confectionery sugar, vanilla, raisins, pavlova, fresh and jammy fruits (lychee, grapes, pineapple, apple, passionfruit!) - effervescent like sparkling wine. Grappa, cherries, a twist of lime - is this whisky, or a fruit basket? Brine, tea, peanut brittle, pine oil, maple syrup. Also a distant molecule or two of smoke and something reminiscent of pickled plums. Probably the best nose of any 12 year old whisky I've ever experienced (to date at least). It really is that good.

Taste: Oak spice bitterness, brine, lime, honey and bourbon influence. Clean malted barley. Crisp. Some sherried spices add a lovely complexity and weight. Honest. Each element executed so well to deliver a result greater than the sum of its parts.

Finish: Drying, savoury, some tartness, brine, oak and malt lingering. Again in great balance. Fantastically warming - enough oils to make for a decently medium length finish. Damn this is good.

Balance: Not much else to add really - I've mentioned the complexity of nose, beautifully balanced palate and fine finish. Nothing out of place, superb all 'round. Only docked a point for not having just a fraction more sweetness on the palate and finish (at least to my tastes). All in all, a very minor criticism indeed!

Score: N24 T22 F22 B24 = 90

Old Pulteney 12 @2 Months

Nose: Citrus, brine, vanilla, honey, oak - bourbon notes loud and clear. Toasted malt, distant hints of peat smoke. There's a secondary layer to this that speaks of richness and quality, although difficult to detect anything specific. With some time, apple, pear and other fruits are detected. Really lovely. Becomes sweeter with time in the glass.

Taste: Confident delivery of lemon zest, brine, woody spices with a well-weighted mouth feel. Great, sustained length. Getting some of that fruit - grapey notes, rockmelon perhaps along with the malted barley. Possibly the biggest, richest mouthfeel of any 40% ABV single malt I've had to date.

Finish: Apple cider vinegar, a pleasing soft bitterness (restrained pepper). More melon on the finish. Lingering - this one doesn't go away in a hurry which is a very good thing indeed.

Balance: Great complexity for a standard entry-level malt. Big palate to go with the rich, inviting nose and the finish continues the theme admirably. Seems a touch of bitterness is creeping into the palate and finish, however it does not last and is not overpowering enough to disrupt the great citrus/zest combo, or the inherent sweetness of the malt.

Score: N21 T21 F21 B23 = 86

Still a fantastic dram at 2 months after opening (in a 3/4 full bottle). Exceptional value for money.

Old Pulteney 12 @4 Months

This sample taken from a 25cl bottle decanted day after opening.

Nose: Subdued and mellow, fragrant but lacking clarity of individual notes at first. Vanilla and/or honey (soft bourbon oak notes) emerge however with citrus and sherry following, then walnut wood, apple cider - a little Speyside-ish. Tea tree / herbal toothpaste. Light malt. Ozone. Slightly earthy or minerally, perhaps. Anise or licorice. A developing toffee note over time, but could also be milk chocolate.

Taste: Fairly mellow arrival, citrus and brine on the mid-palate, white pepper, herbs, honey, malt, moving to slightly dry/tannic but with a great mouthfeel. Bourbon oak is certainly there. Nice balance between sweet and savoury. This is really good stuff! Layered complexity makes this seem greater than its bottled 40% ABV. I do not want to add any water.

Finish: A little bitterness to kick things off, drying; Cola, fresh nutmeg, some ginger, dry wood. Apple peels. Perhaps a touch of cumin.

Balance: Still exhibiting the kind of balance and complexity that makes this the alluring dram that it is. Unfortunately the developing bitterness on the finish prevents a higher score here. Nonetheless, still an enchanting single malt of affordable quality.

Score: N22 T21 F20 B21 = 84

Final (Average) Score: N22 T22 F21 B23 = 88

This is a great review. I'm gonna have to give this one another try. I had a bottle that I slowly drank over a couple years and thought it was just ok. This makes me want to go out and grab another bottle. Thanks for the thorough review.

Thanks for the kind words guys. I fear I'm quite partial to my O.P. 12. From the other reviews I've read though, I may a) Have a natural bias for this style of whisky or b) Got a bottle from a very good batch or c) A combination of the two.

I would definitely want to try a sample from a newer vintage (2012/13) bottling.


I tasted this entry level Old Pulteney almost two years ago, but since I will be trying a whole range of the whisky from Wick this week, I felt it smart to return to this 12 year Old first.

The nose is pretty grainy (malt) with caramel and some sea salt. Light hints of beeswax and a touch bitter as if from walnuts. Leave it to breath for a while, it does wonders for the nose. A bit of oak and some ginger. Soft.

The attack is somewhat thin, again grainy, but also mildly bitter. Pomegranate and grapefruit, but not in a grand way. The fruitiness is somewhat overpowered by liquorice and caramel.

The rather short finish develops on some salt and pepper.

This is a nice visitor card for an entry level malt, but the high score I gave it two years ago was a beginner’s mistake. Around 30 EUR.

I went and looked up your old review of OP12. Why? Out of curiosity. You seem to think that rating it with a mere 4 points higher was a "beginner's mistake."

The average score is only 79. My question is this: I wonder if OP12 was better in 2009, Mark, when you first rated it? Perhaps the batches were better back then? Who knows? It seems to me that Highland Park was better in 2009 by way of comparison.

Here is your first review. I actually find it to be quite good and very articulate:

Environmentalist at Pulteney! They actually have a project going in which the excess heat of the production process is used to heat some 270 local homes. How about that? And next to the distillery is a small factory that processes up to 30.000 tonnes of wood into green electricity.

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old is their best known expressions, selling about 600.000 bottles a year (half of which are exported). It is non-chillfiltered and uncoloured, matured on bourbon barrels.

You might almost confuse it for a fine Islay because of the light peatiness. But it is so sweet, with honey and flowers.

On the palate, nothing but caramel - again with light peat - with chunky malt and citrus and a tad of sea salt. Surprisingly nice.

The finish, nice and long, offers more saltiness. The dram dies in the arms of bitter chocolate.

I didn't know Old Pulteney before I got a taste at my favourite whisky restaurant last weekend, but to be honest, I feel this dram is essential for every cabinet.

Hi @rigmorole and thanks for your comments. Scoring is a much debated topic (see the very long thread elsewhere on this forum), but in my book the difference between 86 and 82 is quite large (even though as you pointed out only 4 points). Having said that, I tasted it from the same batch, so that is not what makes the difference here. The big difference is that I tried the first one in a restaurant with nothing to compare it with. This one, I tasted in a line-up of Old Pulteney's where this was the first dram of 7. Lastly, two years ago I had only just started writing tasting notes and giving scores. That may also have been of influence.


Right off the nose you can tell this whisky has been matured from bourbon casks. The nose to begin with is quite settled and smooth with very little spice to begin with yet when you add water (around 5 drops and no more) this whisky really starts to open up on the nose. While everything about whisky is personal down to the individual drinking it i must say that i was initially greeted by a pineapple aroma, white pepper and yes a hint of salty lemon zest yet nothing that was overpowering. Anyone who has tried Penderyn will know what i mean by a powerful nose, where as this is quite settled and delicate.

In the mouth there is a slight nip and bite on the tongue but know where else in the mouth... consistently i was thinking about the tastes and over and over again the word tropical fruits came to mind, with a subtle toffee hint in the background, everything was light and full of flavor yet compared to what everyone had told me to expect i have to say i was a little disappointed. Sure this is aged for longer than say Penderyn but in the mouth you could honestly see the similarities... the extra age of the Old Pulteney gave it a smoother delivery on the nose and in the mouth... again water is essential but don't add too much!

The finish is quite smooth and short with the pineapple taste and a lingering hint of spice around the back and front of the mouth. All the time that salty tang remains in the backgrounds which makes it different but to be honest i found it off putting.

I'm relatively new to whisky drinking having only been drinking it for the past 4 months yet i was expecting more from this and having literally just gone through a bottle of Penderyn Madeira i was shocked at the similarity. Yes this old Pulteney had more complexity and yes it opened up more when water was added but the similarities between the two was astonishing to me.

If you like bourbon matured whisky then i'm sure you'll like this. It has complexity and shows its quality along with spice and that salty tang which is unique BUT if you like ex-sherry cask matured whisky (as i do) then i would avoid this as the light natured flavors and the pungent smell is in my view over the top and nothing special.

I wanted to add some notes to my review but unfortunately can't so instead i am leaving this note (hoping you read it). As the level of whisky in the bottle has gone down this whisky has changed and for the better, it has settled down and produces a deeper and smoother experience. Compared to when i just opened the bottle and when i originally reviewed it the NOSE and TASTE have improved (and my marks have been changed to reflect this). My final advice is to leave this whisky bottle open over night or maybe even decant it...trust me allowing this whisky to breath is essential!!

4 months man, c'mon.


Color: gold.

Nose: earthy, grassy, and grainy, with an undercurrent of leather and brine. A drop of water brings out hints of vanilla and honeysuckle.

Body: medium, oily.

Palate: wow. This is interesting. Very spicy. Loads of pepper and a pinch of salt. But sweet too, with notes of coffee, chocolate, almonds, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Way more complex and sweet than the nose suggests.

Finish: pretty short but packs a punch and a mouth full of cocoa, cinnamon, and butterscotch.

This was a great surprise with a lot of bang for your buck. An excellent starter Scotch or just a nice one to have on hand for an afternoon dram or sharing with friends.

Yet another intriguing review of the 12. Strangely, I've only tasted the 17 and 21. The 12 seems like a great buy. I'm acquiring two more bottles of 21 in another state while on a business trip (since the 21 is not sold in Oregon). Maybe the 12 is a really good (and less expensive) alternative, which is sold right down the street at my local liquor shop. Thanks for the review.

Not sure why, but the 12 was hard to come by here for a while. Couldn't find it anywhere until this year. I hear the 21 is great. Hope to work my way up to that someday.


Warm, Spicy, Sweet/Salty arival followed by a veggietable quick finish. Often overlooked, but always great.

This one goes for around forty pops in Oregon. Sounds like it's worth a go. Thanks for the tip, PM.

Anyone out there know if I should buy an old dusty bottle from older batch in an out of the way liquor store with slow turnover of stock, or from a store that turns over more with newer batched bottles? Which is better? Has this whisky changed at all? And if so, for the better or worse or just different? If different, how? Thanks in advance, rig


These notes were adapted from a mini-review I posted in the “Old Pulteney 12 Nose Question” thread, in which Connosr member @TpR asked if anyone else got strong notes of cheese throughout the nosing and tasting experience. Pardon me for employing a bit of self-plagiarizing here, but it was hard to resist chalking up another review with copy-and-paste ease.

My bottle of OP 12 is the 375ml size, purchased in a twin pack with a 375ml OP 17, and this will be my fourth dram. I'd supply the batch number, but it's printed on the bottle, rather than the label, and four of the numbers have rubbed off.

Nose: It's different, that's for sure. Not sure if I could identify this as Scotch if I were tasting it blind. No malt, vanilla, caramel, smoke...no familiar Scotch-y aromas (and no cheese). More like cooking oil, a little wood, and, of all things, watermelon. Very, very light. But I like it.

Palate is bitter honey, pleasantly so. Doesn't seem to evolve much as it sits. No cheese yet.

As for the finish...I don't know if this is the power of suggestion, but -- dang, there's the cheese. A couple of months ago, I might have described this as "creamy and earthy," but now that I'm thinking cheese, that's what I'm getting. To be specific, I get a good cheese and broccoli soup. The kind you get at the sandwich shops, not the canned kind.

This is a whisky whose unique flavors are balanced by their tameness. It's an entry-level malt only in that it's mild and nonthreatening. On one hand, I like these flavors very much, but don't care for the softness of the whisky. On the other hand, I don't know if I'd like these flavors at cask strength.

I prefer Old Pulteney 17 yo, in that the extra five years results in a bolder and more articulate whisky, and one for which the oddball flavors now compliment a dominant and traditional malt-and-spice profile. That said, I’ll give OP 12 a respectable score, based on its uniqueness and drinkability.

These last few reviews of OP 12 have intrigued me in a weird way. I just might buy a bottle. I am saving my 21 year that I own for a special occasion. I tasted the 17 year and wasn't impressed, but part of that had to do with the price. I've heard good things about the 12. Character goes a long way in my book, even if there are eccentric aspects to a single malt. Thanks very much for the review, WhiskyBee.

I just reviewed the Dalmore 15. I wonder if anyone would think the barnyardy eau de toilette that I detected was cheese like or broccoli soup like. I hope not. I did not like the barnyardy aspect of the Dalmore 15. I can only guess that in past years the bottlings have been better. Things seem to be going downhill.

I surmise this might be due to the good bottles going to Asia while we Westerners suffer as our currencies are woefully devalued by the same "federal reserve" type interests that are owned by rich robber barons that have heavily invested in Asian companies and governments, even while they are purposefully sabotaging economies of the West. Oceania and Eurasia are "losing" while Eastasia is "winning."

Sure . . . whatever the Squawk Box says. It must be true if newscasters tell us so. Economies are like Mother Nature: they just "happen" due to entirely fair and competitive evolution and developments supervised by banks and stock markets that operate in line with the general best interests of the citizenry. And on and on and on. . . .

Meanwhile, the best casks and bottlings of Scottish whiskies might well be heading East at our expense. Bummer. Who the heck knows? Right. Time for a drink!


Nose: really nice and sweet nose, kind of salty, but very comforting and lets you know you should be getting something quality.

Palate: This is where the Old Pulteney really shines I think. It comes into the palate with a really sweet and slightly salty flavour, but the mouthfeel is so smooth you don't even realize youv'e got whisky in there! Then, the spiciness comes through and goes on into the finish.

Finish: Not exceptionally long, but nice and super sweet with that mild spicy flavour all around. Very nice and easy drinking whisky for sure!

Highly recommended


I've just bought my first Old Pulteney, and it was a nice 12yo version. I made up my mind, and chose it, as I am preparing for the coming WhiskyDay in Hungary. There will be the 17-year-old Pulteney, and therefore I felt, I need some discovery as a reference point.

Well, the reference point is set quite high. This whisky is delicious. The first impression at the opening was like: "Woohhoooo"; the waves of smells just blown off my head (of coure in a good way)!

Nose: mainly smells like a good, aged white wine with hints of honey and a little bit of oriental spices.

Taste: like the water in the Hebrides, a strong wave of malt taste, with a very light peaty side. Also kind of oily (it is also visible on the side of the glass).

Palate: a wine-like effect is noticeable with a distant salinity. Feeling here it oily too.

Finish: long-lasting white wine flavours, with honey and spices in an oily coat.

So, without writing more, than necessary: this dram is highly recommended. It smells great, it tastes great, it is worth buying it.

Currently one of my all-time favourites. I will probably always endeavour to have a bottle of this on hand! It's fantastic for an "entry level" malt. I agree that it has great mouth-feel and balance of flavours, the sherry imparted complexity adds so much depth to this.

I must say I jumped on board post-Murray, but hey, it's all about the quality for me and not due to the hype, I'm just glad my eyes were opened to this distillery and I'm looking forward to trying as many different Pulteneys as I can find. Let's all hope the quality stays high going forward!


A friend and fellow reviewer from Queensland and I have decided to start sending one another whisky samples. It's a cheap way to experience a wide range of the whisky world with quite a bit less risk of buying a bottle that you sit there and go "That's NASTY!" and helps you find the bottles and distillers that make you go "That's YUM!"

A week or so ago the samples that he sent to me arrived and made me happily giggle!

New whisky is ALWAYS fun to taste and try!

In his little care pack he'd sent me a Glen Scotia distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2009 by Gordon & Macphail, Dalmore 12 yr old, Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 and a special mystery malt that very few people have ever got to try.

I'd already tasted the Glen Scotia which I really didn't care for and scored a 75 out of a 100.

Last one I'd tasted was the Dalmore 12 yr old which was quite yum and received a score of 83 out of a 100.

Tonight's one to be tasted was the Old Pulteney 12 yr old!

I was quite eager to try the Old Pulteney because if you've been reading your Whisky Bible 2012 you'll see that the 21 yr old is the whisky that won the World's Best Whisky!

Ive never been a huge Highland whisky fan, tending to stay specifically in Speyside and Islay (I know pretty fun right?), but I'd meandered into the Highland region before a couple of times with Glenmorangie, Dalwhinnie and Dalmore a couple of nights ago.

So as is my evening ritual I sit down with my glencairn and my wife to enjoy dinner and an episode of Masterchef.

As we sit there and nose the glencairn some lovely aromas are coming out of the glass.

Some sea air is wafting through the air with hints of fruit and vanilla. Very lovely and quite complex.

Taking my first sip I'm amazed at how awesome this entry level whisky is. This is a big whisky with bags of flavor!

First is salt, then wisps of smoke, bits of vanilla, peppery at times and quite bitter with oak. The oak almost dominates the flavor profile, but thankfully it pulls back before taking over.

The finish is quite bitter due to what I think is the oak with a lot of saltiness. It's of decent length and fills your mouth with warmth.

This is a very nice dram and makes me very eager to crack open my bottle of the 21 year old which is of higher and obviously greater age.

This bottle can be found in some bottle shops in Australia for around $80 AUS which is a bloody good price considering what you're getting, but you ARE going to have to work hard to find it I believe.

Sounds lush, would love to give this a try, will keep on the look out for it. Great review.


Nose is soft, but strong with marine aromas. A touch of honeyed sweetness. Flavours are somewhat burned, salty and hot. Finish is slightly hot.


Nose is soft, but strong with marine aromas. A touch of honeyed sweetness. Flavours are somewhat burned, salty and hot. Finish is slightly hot.


This is my review of Old Pulteney 12 year old , It is one of the great entry level malts that surprises you with its complexity, One that you will find revisiting again and again. It has it all and at a great price.

Nose: It is truly a maritime malt , sea salt breeze with a hint of flowers in the air, fresh , zesty...

Taste: I get soft cocoa with cream , hints of sherry evident with the creamy & salty tones , very balanced.

Finish: Zesty, Peppery , apple wood smoke , sherry follows through a rich creamy finish

Overall: To me this is a very complex dram that is both rich in taste and character.


This malt is often described as an ideal beginners whisky, and while true, I think that sells this fine drop somewhat short. For me, this is a true Highland benchmark. It is the perfect combination of land, air and sea (it will make sense when you taste it!)

Colour: Light Gold (does it matter??)

Nose: Definite sherry presence. Barley sugar sweetness and a whiff of salt/brine.

Taste: Sherry again, but muted. It has a sherbet like fizz to it that tingles the tongue. Candied sweetness and a definite salty hint. A wee hint of pepperiness that one would expect from a Highlander, but not too much.

Finish: There's that saltiness again! It doesn't dominate by any stretch, but it's unmissable. There's still that sherry richness, but it fades fairly quickly. Drunk neat, the sensation in the mouth is drying; like sucking on a dry stone. The mouth really waters after finishing this one, which makes you just want more.

Overall, this is a real beauty. Well balanced, with a good mix of richness and maritime character. I am a bit biased as this is one of my favourite malts, so the score is on the generous side, but what the heck, I can't get enough.

@mattberg i agree entirely with you on the OP12 vs 21. I spent £70 on it just before Chrimbo and I really don't think it's as enjoyable a dram as the 12 year old expression. I keep trying it hoping to suddenly see the error of my ways but I just think its pretty ordinary. The 12 you can get for a third of the price and for me it's just a much more rounded, more appealing drink. The 17 is again in my opinion a far superior whisky than the 21.

Have just bought this and had a few drams this weekend..... this is a great whisky in my opinion up there with a Mortlach and Highland Park, if not better than the 12 yo HP... beautifully balanced, sweet,spicey and engaging.... right now I'm rating this 12 yo above or equal to the award winning £80 bottle of 21yo that I bought.....


A Highland Scotch with Islay aspirations. This malt has the underlying tones for a traditional Bowmore Scotch without the "in your face" characteristics of a truly Islay.The saltiness and medicinal characteristics are toned down, and one can enjoy the blending of the regions without commiting to either. For the single malt beginner, Old Pulteney offers the best of both worlds at a reasonable price.

I agree with your conclusion; this is a very good entry point for single malt Scotch.


I first came across this whisky when I visited scotland a few years ago. Unfortunately I did not visit the distillery although we visited Wick. Anyway, I immediatly fell in love with this gem. It's a very reasonable priced whisky (in fact I paid approx 20 pounds), very delicious and while it's a IMHO a perfect dram to serve to a whisky-beginner yet it has enough complexity to please the more advanced whisky-enthusiast too. So if you are looking for a good whisky which doesn't cost too much, Old Pulteney 12 might be what you're looking for.

Nose: it starts with a hint of chocolate, some vanilla and a bit salt. you also notice the wood

Taste: there is some leather, salt again (just slightly) as well as shortbread, cereals and hints of banana (the 17 years old has more banana-like taste). There is also a taste which reminds me of flowers. It has a kinda oily texture.

Finish: nothing spectacular, very short with only some vanilla.

@Arikael awesome review I also love OP12 it's great for all of the reasons you mentioned. The best part is that both my step sons one a McClelland Islay and the other a Caol ila 12yr drinker both like OP12 as their second favorite. Thanks again. :)

I have served Old Pulteney 12 to a lot of people, and I have never encountered a single one who disliked it.


The only whisky I ever tried that I didn't like. Too much salt not enough love. Maybe it's just me but I really didn't get on with this. It's so far from whisky heaven which is where I want to be.


Medium gold in color. Thick legs, medium-slow. Nose: unfiltered apple cider, cardamom, mowed lawn and rich vanilla. Very appetizing. Taste: Thin body, sharp bite. Sweet at first with funny, then oak, spices and a little smoke.Drying finish, a la Highland Park, with lovely vanilla coming through. Overall: Can't beat it for the price. A great every day dram!


Along with the Islay malts, Old Pulteney has a bit of a reputation as the type of flavour that you either love or hate. The 17 year old makes it into Ian Buxton’s book so it will come around as one of the bottles of the 101 Club (@101WhiskyClub) but since I had some Oddbins vouchers burning a hole in my pocket and since as a group we’re only just at A at the moment, I thought I’d try something new (to me at least).

Although it’s described as the Maritime Malt, the initial nosing was much less distinctive that I’d been led to expect. There’s a slightly medicinal, spirit smell to it, which to me tends to drown out other aromas.

It’s oily on first tasting, clinging to the roof of the mouth and coating the tongue. Unreduced there’s the flavour of oak and the famously sea salt notes but to me it’s harsh, unrefined and a little unpleasant. With a little water the flavour becomes more mellow and rounded, losing the harsh spirit edge and allowing the oak, vanilla and spice to balance out and a hint of smoke to come through.

For a standard bottling it provides a lot of flavour and although the geography is wrong, it bridges the taste gap between the a Highland whisky and the beefier Islay malts. I’ll certainly buy another when I’ve worked my way through this.

Old Pulteney 12: a lot of barley flavour and a good bit of salt. I really like this one, and have never had anyone ever dislike it when I have had whisky tastings with this included.


I tasted the 12 year old version of OP a few times before, and two weeks ago at a friend’s. I never was overwhelmed by it, but it’s a good dram. I had the pleasure of re-tasting it as well as its older brother the 17 year old last Thursday at the twitter tasting online with OP’s Malcolm Waring. One thing did intrigue me about the color of the 12 and the 17. The 17 year old was paler in color (middle of picture below). Usually the older drams are darker in color (when no coloring was added). I did post a question to Malcolm Waring during the tasting and he twitted this : “17yo comes 100% from re-fill casks whereas the 12yo has mainly 1st fill”. To be exact, we’re speaking of 90% first fill, and a 10% refill casks here….Now everything is clear.

Ready to be tasted at the Old Pulteney #WK209 event (WK209,17,12 LTR)

Old Pulteney 12, 40% ABV , £28 (buy here)

Nose: fruity,some sea spray (this is Old Pulteney eh?) , and some tropical vanilla. a bit dry…

Palate: The palate is spicier than the nose, a bit sharp at first, with the vanilla shining, and quit a few malty notes. wee briny. With 5 drops of water: The oak becomes more evident, and the a certain bitterness is felt.

Finish: Oak,some spice, and with water, rather bitter.

Bottom line:

This is a very good entry point malt, and a good way to get introduced into the Old Pulteney range. At around £25, it’s well priced. I would love to see this one at Cask strength, as i feel the 40% ABV is not enough here.

I usually do not like to add water, and this time i tried adding a few drops, just to make it interesting, and all i can say : this whisky doesn’t like water added. The bitter ending and palate, are really not that enjoyable (with water). Next time, only neat…


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: A summery nose of warm rain lightly falling on freshly cut grass. Baskets of over-ripe and freshly picked raspberries and gooseberries lie at your feet, and the wet wicker wood infuses with the sweet juices coming from the crushed berries at the bottom. A warm malt aroma mixes with the salty coastal air, giving you the feel that you're actually standing in the very grounds of this Highland distillery. 2.0

Taste: Light and fluid, it's as if the rain-water that fell through the fruit basket has been collected from the ground, having taken on a wooden and earthy, almost peaty dimension to the berries and grass. 2.0

Finish: There is nuttier element here, salted sweet cashews in fact, which makes you think they would go perfectly with this whisky as you watch the breezy and warm Highland sunset, before heading in for a hearty meal. Were this whisky to be edible, then this finish would be like licking your fingers and finding a sumptuously salty and honeyed flavour to sign off on the berries and nuts that you had been snacking on. 2.0

Balance: This whisky really feels like a message in a bottle, or even a post-card, sent directly from the distillery from where it came, to faithfully capture the essence of the environment around it. Sent in the throws of summer, flowers blooming and berries ripe, with the warm coastal air giving moisture to the earthy soil below. For that alone one cannot fault this whisky, it then just comes down to whether you feel that this is a place you want to visit or not, and I for one would find it hard to say no. 2.5

Nice review OJK. A really fine whisky in a very funky bottle.


Environmentalist at Pulteney! They actually have a project going in which the excess heat of the production process is used to heat some 270 local homes. How about that? And next to the distillery is a small factory that processes up to 30.000 tonnes of wood into green electricity.

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old is their best known expressions, selling about 600.000 bottles a year (half of which are exported). It is non-chillfiltered and uncoloured, matured on bourbon barrels.

You might almost confuse it for a fine Islay because of the light peatiness. But it is so sweet, with honey and flowers.

On the palate, nothing but caramel - again with light peat - with chunky malt and citrus and a tad of sea salt. Surprisingly nice.

The finish, nice and long, offers more saltiness. The dram dies in the arms of bitter chocolate.

I didn't know Old Pulteney before I got a taste at my favourite whisky restaurant last weekend, but to be honest, I feel this dram is essential for every cabinet.

Fortunately, it is readily available and costs only about 25 pounds.

Just picked up a bottle last week, in an unsold gift pack just after Christmas; it also had two GlenCairns in the pack!

I agree--this is a surprisingly top-knotch dram form a distillery which deserves better recognition. The nose is particularly appetizing, a fruit and cereal chewiness with a mild peat sidenote. I've been loving it.

I am sipping the last drops of my bottle OP 12yo and indeed this is a fine every day malt. I really like your review, especially the background info about the distillery and the green energy usage.


This is a great value malt whisky. At just over £20 a bottle it's probably not one for the purists but great is you are a novice starting a collection or like me, just want a nice, affordable malt for everyday consumption.

In a tasting session at a Burns supper a few years ago, this was voted favourite by a crowd of occasional drinkers ahead of several more expensive whiskies.

I liked Old Pulteney 12 from the first try. It's one of the best, for a daily dram or for special occasions. I've had a bottle of the Old Pulteney 17 and preferred the 12. If you want straight malt without any spin, try this excellent single malt.


This little number doesn't have the good manners of some of our more distinguished guests but that doesn't mean she isn't fun to have around.

A bit like a slightly tipsy, giggly girl you might not want to introduce to polite company, but who at the same time can be the life and soul for a good night in.

More personality than some, less class than others.

Old Pulteney seems like an interesting whisky. WIll probably get one til next friday.

Just a note- I had to go ahead and get this bottle, based just on your review, and I have to say I'm glad. Slainte !


We drank some of this at Christmas this year. Not bad overall but its not a whisky for the big occasion.

I understand this review was made 3 years ago - however a score of 40 out of 100?

IMHO - a "not bad" score should be somewhere in the mid to upper 70's...A score of 40 is one step above sewer water.

Old Pulteney 12 yr is one of my favorites, and a damn fine value.

@FMichael we all score differently.. some, like this reviewer, may actually be using ALL of the 100 point scale as opposed to the 65 to 100 that most of us use - in which case, according to their taste, they rate this a little below par (for whatever reason) - however they use the term "not bad" in the review which to me, should suggest at least an average mark of 50/100 on that scale so that's probably the only criticism I'd have about this rating.

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