Highland Scotch whisky brand Old Pulteney has introduced to Singapore its reinvigorated core range of four whiskies – a 12YO, a 15YO, an 18YO, and the non-age statement Huddart.
It can be a little of a tough sell when you have the word ‘old’ in your brand, but that doesn’t seem to have fazed Old Pulteney. The ‘maritime malt‘ from one of Scotland’s northernmost reaches – Wick in Caithness, to be exact – is rather well-known in whisky circles for a signature salty tang in its whiskies. Its official 17 Year Old comes very highly regarded, and its 21 Year Old even landed the top spot in Jim Murray’s respected Whisky Bible back in 2012.
So it was devastating to fans when the InterBev-owned distillery announced in the middle of last year that it will be tweaking its core whisky portfolio. And especially so because both the much-beloved 17YO and – even sadder – the award-winning 21YO were dropped from the lineup.
Old Pulteney gets new with a refresh on the inside and out.
The original 12YO has been kept, although like the rest of the new core range it will sport new livery. The distillery hopes the refreshing new look combines the character and heritage of Old Pulteney while offering a more “contemporary feel that connects with a new generation of consumers who appreciates a good dram”.
The last time the Old Pulteney got a rebrand was back in 2011, so this refresh is probably sorely needed too. We think the updated look should work, but then again we’re no branding experts.
Also in the lineup is the Old Pulteney 15YO. Matured in both ex-bourbon and Spanish oak casks we found this as the most balanced – and ‘safest’ – of the lot. Expect creamy notes of vanilla and chocolate underscored by dried stone and orchard fruit, and just a touch of brine and toffee. This is likely to be that gateway dram for drinkers new to Old Pulteney (or to whisky).
Then there’s the Huddart. This non-age statement whisky celebrates the birthplace of Old Pulteney – it’s named after the street on which the distillery sits – and borrows a smoky undertone from being finished in American oak casks that once held peated whisky (which it co-opted from sister distillery Knockdhu).
But it’s the 18YO where it’s at. It’s too easy to call out the oldest vintage in a core range the best of the lot, but in Old Pulteney’s case it’s totally true. You instantly get the distillery character, but also an incredibly sensual farmyard funk that adds much complexity and finish to the expression. We found out later from distillery manager Malcolm Waring that the whisky comes from stock that’s aged in the distillery’s dunnage-style Warehouse No. 6. We suspect the old building’s weather-beaten, earthy, almost-mouldy environment may have contributed that distinctly attractive character.
“We’ve rejigged the Old Pulteney core range based on feedback from customers who’ve been asking for something new,” shares Old Pulteney distiller manager Malcolm Waring.
The core Old Pulteney range of whiskies is available via La Maison du Whisky. Recommended selling prices are S$135 for the 12YO, S$160 for the Huddart, S$180 for the 15YO, and S$215 for the 18YO.
Official Tasting Notes
Old Pulteney 12 YO
Embodies the maritime malt characteristic that has become synonymous with Old Pulteney whiskies. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, marrying together the salty flavours of the sea with the influence of American oak to bring sweetness into play with the slight scent of citrus, vanilla, and caramel.
Old Pulteney Huddart
Rich and warming. Combines the influence from the salt-infused sea air with peat smoke, maturing in American ex-bourbon casks and finished in American ex-peated casks to deliver a mellow and smoky whisky with true character, depth and identity. Brimming initially with mellow wood smoke, honey and oily leather, blooming later into crisp green apple top notes. Creamy vanilla and a hint of burnt toffee in the background.
Old Pulteney 15 YO
Intense yet balanced. Bursts with rich dried fruits, ripe apples, and citrus, with honey sweetness. A generous chord of creamy vanilla, while slightly chocolatey and floral in the background.
Old Pulteney 18 YO
The character and colour comes entirely from the American oak casks and Spanish sherry butts in which it has been nurtured, delivering a deep amber colour. An indulgent and deeply warming expression featuring notes of chocolate and spice, though allowing for the influence of more vibrant and zesty flavours.