Old Pulteney aged 12 years — Review

Old Pulteney twelve

Why I bought it

We recently had a party at my workplace, at which one of my collegues allowed us to drink some of his whisky; he’d stored it in a cupboard in his office as he’d been gifted it for his birthday and hasn’t drunk from it since then. Thus, not wanting it to go to waste, he allowed anyone who wanted to drink from it and that, naturally, included me. It was an 18 year old Highland Single Malt Scotch that had been aged in sherry casks from a distillery called Tomatin — and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It did remind me, however, that I haven’t had any whisky in a long time and therefore I decided to head into town the next weekend to go find some whisky.

Before doing so, however, I looked online — as I do every so often — to figure out what kind of whisky I could buy that would not turn my wallet into a black hole and I stumbled upon one that I’d put on my wishlist on the German website of whisky.de called — who’d have guessed? — Old Pulteney; in particular, the one that has been aged for twelve years. I thought about ordering it from said website but decided against it as I wanted to have it right away. This, however, meant that I had to pay five Euros more than I would have online, namely €34,90. I was very interested in this particular whisky because it’s advertised as “The Maritime Malt”; the reason for this can be found on the backside of the whisky’s packaging, “Old Pulteney is matured in hand selected American ex-bourbon casks. Over the years, the casks gently absorb the northern sea breeze, giving the whisky its smooth, complex flavours and coastal characteristics.”
I thought it sounded interesting and unique.

It seems, however, that the store I bought the whisky from only had the slightly older variant of it in stock with the old label and box. The current version can be found on their website (https://www.oldpulteney.com/whiskies/1-12-years-single-malt-scotch-whisky); reading other peoples’ reviews however, it seems that not only the packaging changed, but the taste as well. Therefore, these tasting notes may not apply to the current version of the Old Pulteney.

The whisky itself

How it’s made

As mentioned above, this Old Pulteney is aged in ex-bourbon casks like a lot of other whiskies; unlike a lot of other ones, however, these casks are air-dried in the sea-side air which makes them absorb the typical maritime aromas (mostly salt) and in return passes these onto the whisky itself — I will talk more about what that means in practice shortly. In addition, the Old Pulteney distillery is the northernmost one on the Scottish Mainland. The bottle’s rather unique shape was inspired by the also very unusually shaped wash stills used in the distillery.

The taste

All of this sounds, in my opinion, very interesting; however, we have yet to talk about the most important aspect of a whisky: its taste. Firstly, it’s important to note that I am by no means an expert whisky taster and that I’m simply some guy who’s very interested in whisky and likes trying out new things. Therefore, I would recommend you take everything I say with a grain of salt (pun not intended).

Upon opening the bottle for the first time, you get greeted by a very lovely, fruity aroma that reminded me a lot of apricots or oranges. I immediately poured myself a small glass of it, swirled it around and smelled it. Now that the whisky had more air to breathe, it opened up, revealing some more of its aromas; most notably the maritime notes, which are indeed present. These notes, however, are somewhat difficult to describe. They remind me of salt or just the air of the sea-side in general and a decent comparison would be drinking a whisky directly by the sea; a very unexpected but nice aroma for a whisky.
As the whisky has an ABV of merely 40%, it should be obvious that there is no discernible alcoholic scent unless you really put your nose into the glass and take a very deep breath. Instead, in addition to the aforementioned maritime notes, you get a lot of sweet, fruity aromas that remind me of apricots, oranges, citrus and apples.

After assessing the smell, I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised by how smooth it was for a whisky that was aged for merely twelve years. The alcohol didn’t show through as much as I’d feared (and as is a common problem with a lot of cheaper and thus younger whiskies) but was instead slightly toned down, making it easier to spot some of the more fruity but also slightly spicy notes that this whisky has. The finish was decently long (not the longest, but for a whisky of this price definitely long enough) and accompanied by a spicy / salty taste.


I found this whisky to be very lovely and unique and it has become one of my favourite whiskies to drink. It is also one of the only ones that I do not drink with added water as I find it smooth enough as it is. I am looking forward to hopefully being able to try some of their older bottlings once I’ve saved enough money.

PS: As has hopefully become evident by now, this blog’s focus is not exclusively on language but also on a myriad of other things that I enjoy — among which is whisky. I have already posted a review about a coffee grinder that I had bought; this post is therefore the second in the series of blog posts that have little to nothing to do with languages. I will be posting a language-related one soon, however, so do not fret!

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