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Scotland’s Pulteney Distillery has given its core range a dramatic refresh with new ages, new labels, new names and in many cases new whisky.
It's always a risk for any distillery to make major changes to its foundation line-up, especially when that means discontinuing long-time fan favourites and award winners – in this case, the Old Pulteney 17 and Old Pulteney 21, which have been replaced by a 15- and 18-year old.
New to the Pulteney shelf is the Huddart NAS (No Age Statement), which shares the brand’s characteristic saline and salty edge.
Old Pulteney 12 year old
This one is 'new' in label design only, but it' a good place to start all the same – a 12 year old from 100% American Oak barrels, mostly re-fill and chill-filtered.
Colour: Yellow gold.
Nose: Floral, briney, with creamy notes of vanilla.
Palate: More vanilla (vanilla cream), slightly saline, with notes of grapefruit.
Finish: Medium in length with hints of grapefruit and a slight oak bitterness at the very end.
Details: 40% ABV, A$50
Old Pulteney "Huddart"
Named after the street on which the distillery resides, and finished in peated anCnoc casks. Non-chill filtered, no colouring. Both the Huddart and the 12 year old above use a type of Optic barley which is not longer available, as the farmer responsible no longer grows it.
Colour: Orange-yellow sunset.
Nose: Caramel, some earthy smoke and notes of dried/aged leather.
Palate: Orchard fruits, confectionary, smoked pears and apricots.
Finish: Medium in length, with the peated notes coming through a little stronger. A little thin, with some tannins showing. In fact, not dissimilar to Scapa Glansa, which was also finished in peated casks.
Details: 46% ABV, A$70
Old Pulteney 15 year old
Finished in Oloroso-seasoned Spanish butts for what the distiller will describe only as "a number of years"; non-chill filtered, no colouring.
Colour: Golden-orange amber.
Nose: Lovely. Milk chocolate, maple syrup, sweet vanilla bean and custard apple.
Palate: Oily, viscous, spicier than the previous two, with some red fruit (strawberries, raspberries) & freshly oiled leather.
Finish: Long, berries, oak and leather.
Details: 46% ABV, A$110
Old Pulteney 18 year old
A combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Spanish Oak sherry casks. Non-chill filtered, no colouring.
Colour: Copper gold.
Nose: Banana chips, wafts of sweet smoke and milk chocolate.
Palate: Big in the mouth initially. Crème brûlée, Allen's Bananas, barbecued bananas. Dark chocolate and a noticeable maltiness.
Finish: Long, smoked banana with a residual meaty note.
Details: 46% ABV, A$175
In summary, Old Pulteney's refresh positions the new 15 and 18 as worthy replacements for the 17 and 21, while the Huddart explores an interesting twist which, while perhaps not to everyone's taste, certainly offers drinkers the chance to see Old Pulteney in a new light.