Did you know that there isn’t enough barley grown in Scotland to meet the requirements of the scotch producing industries much less let anyone in Scotland actually eat any of that barley? So if you’re in Scotland and you’re hungry for a bowl of barley soup you are just plum out of luck. Barley is routinely purchased from England, other parts of Europe and even Canada. It has been common practice for Scotland’s whisky distillers to import barley since the 19th century.

The Pulteney distillery is located in Wick which is about as far north as you can go in Scotland. It was founded by James Henderson in 1826 and named after Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, then Governor of British Fisheries. That bit of information becomes important when you realize that back then the town of Wick was at the center of a “herring boom” becoming the largest and wealthiest fishing port in Europe.

The oddly shaped bottle this scotch comes in actually reflects the unique shape of the famous Pulteney distillery wash still. The 12 year old scotch inside is a translucent honey colored copper/amber no doubt from ageing in ex-bourbon casks. The nose is light and airy with a touch of sea salt and green apples and just a hint of oak and is well balanced. The palate is also slightly salty with a touch of oak, caramel, vanilla and honey and even a hint of peat. The finish is medium in length, just slightly spicy and leaves an oaky, smoky, fruity taste in the mouth.

I like it; it is complex without being overly complicated. The flavors are distinct yet blended well together. I especially like the salty notes. Whenever I seek a scotch I look for one that has that touch of saltiness, it’s actually one of my favorite things about scotch and I miss it when it’s not there. The smoky peat flavor is there but hangs in the background and adds just the right touch to the overall blend of flavors. I appreciate the fact that the oakiness doesn’t dominate but adds the right amount of complimentary taste. Looks like they got this spirit down just about right. Pick up a bottle and give it a go, I think you’ll like it!

Old Pulteney single malt scotch whiskey retails for $45.00 but can also be found for around $34.90 per 750ML bottle and is 86 proof or 43% ABV.


By George Brozowski