I’m looking north again, in regards to whisky. Not necessarily to Scotland, which is entirely north of The Netherlands, but mostly to Orkney, Sutherland, Caithness and the Highland Council regions of Scotland. Distilleries like Balblair, Old Pulteney and Highland Park are the obvious ones that come to mind.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for these distilleries, however most don’t show up often in my collection. For Balblair it’s pretty simple why that is: it’s just not that easy to get in The Netherlands. You don’t run into it.
Old Pulteney is available, but the good ones have gotten more expensive and the cheap ones are shit. Or at least, they were shit when I did some investigating of them. The Lighthouse series of around 2013 existed, but I’m not sure why.
Highland Park had gone a bit mental with their viking stuff, and the prices soared too. It seems that recently the waters around Orkney have calmed a bit though. At least some single casks are rather affordable, and the quality of their entry level whiskies seems to have gone up.
What made me focus on these whiskies again, though, is that I’m quietly planning a trip to the region with my in-laws. We’ve been talking about going to Scotland with ‘the men’ for several years now, but between the younger generation having kids the last decade meant that had to be postponed. 2021 seems to be an option, though. Maybe 2022. And then it would be Inverness and up along the coast. At least, that’s what I’m aiming for.
This Old Pulteney then! It’s a Cadenhead bottling, so that heightens my expectation a bit! I’ve had it for years in my cupboard and only now I’m drinking it. I like finding these things. It does mean this is the last month or two of finding things…
Quite a bit of vanilla, with a really tiny whiff of smoke in the background. Oak, barley and straw, with fresh apple and pineapple. A tinge of salinity to make for a coastal distillate.
The palate is reasonable with not too much bite from the alcohol, even as a first dram. The vanilla pops up first again, with the dry notes from lots of barley and oak right on its heels. The fruit is a bit subdued but still present, more fresh apples and pineapple. The straw notes are quite prominent. Some marram grass and sandy beaches.
The finish continues down the same line, with lots of dryness, a very warming feeling too. Straw, oak, barley, some fruit and some pastry notes.
This is exactly what I expected it to be. A well matured Old Pulteney that shows what the distillery does so very well. Fruity spirit, with grassy notes and some coastal influences make for a well balanced whisky that I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of!
A quick check tells me I can, but not unless I want to part with € 350, and that is too much for what this whisky is. Especially since new ones like it still pop up semi-regularly.
All in all, a cracking whisky that feels rather summery even though it’s from the north of Scotland, with lots of fruity goodness backed up by spirit and cask influences. Luckily, the vanilla isn’t too much of a distraction and makes for a rather nice hint of familiarity, even.
Old Pulteney 1990-2015, 24yo, Bourbon Barrel, 53.7% – Cadenhead Single Cask