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This scotch is a bit of a mystery, and I love a bit of a mystery, as it allows me to don my Sherlock Holmes hat and speak in a bad imitation of a British accent while pretending to be over the top smart and witty in a way that no one appreciates. And so it is with this latest offering from Old Pulteney, their new scotch called the Navigator.

From everything written on the bottle and on their website, this scotch is a single malt produced exclusively at their distillery in Wick which is the northern most distillery in Scotland. Scotch is normally made from barley but not exclusively; however by regulation, a single malt scotch must be made exclusively from malted barley and therefore I conclude this one is even though it is never stated anywhere. The bottle and the website go further into the fog by never stating any age for this scotch, but again, by law a single malt scotch must be aged for at least three years in oak casks, so I will jump to the conclusion that this scotch is a youngster as far as aged scotches go. Finally, opening up a bit, Old Pulteney reveals that this Navigator is matured in bourbon and sherry casks. All of this leads me to the inevitable conclusion that the Lord of the Manor was murdered last Wednesday night on the moor by the butler and his body was consumed by the Hound of The Baskervilles, thusly leaving no trace.

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OK, so enough of jumping to conclusions; let’s actually try this scotch. The color is a very pale golden honey and comes in a nautically themed bottle. The nose is a laid back peaty, barely smoky combination of orange peels and cherry with a touch of bourbon but not very deep and quite simply stated. The palate starts off with a slight touch of the fruit: bananas and oranges, but immediately goes smoky and leans towards the bourbon and sherry. It finishes with the peaty smoke and a nice touch of sea saltiness that lasts only a short time. I’ve never tasted saltiness in the finish of a scotch before so this is a new one on me! On the rocks, the smokiness becomes even more accented while the fruit flavors almost disappear. This is a simple, young, decent scotch that most will find interesting, while incentivizing them to move up the Old Pulteney line to their more complex and aged scotches.

You can find Old Pulteney Navigator primarily on the east and west coast for about $44.00 per 750ml bottle at 46% ABV or 92 proof. This price puts it near the bottom of the Old Pulteney line that tops out around $800.00 for their 35 year old scotch, but this is still a good starting point.

By George Brozowski

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