Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky Range – A Celebration of the Sea

In the very far northern reaches of the Scottish highlands, where the wind is wild, the rain plentiful, and the scenery is breathtaking, you will find the Old Pulteney Distillery.

Located in the Pulteneytown area of Caithness, Wick to be precise, the Old Pulteney Distillery produces Old Pulteney single malt Scotch whisky, in a variety of different ages and expressions. There is also a hugely popular visitor centre located on Huddart Street, which actually inspired one of the Great Drams we’re going to be reviewing today.

Here at Great Drams, we know more than a thing or two about whisky, and we know a fabulous tipple when we taste one. Old Pulteney Whisky is most certainly a fabulous tipple, which is why we’re going to be looking at some of their most popular releases in more detail.

With its coastal influences evident from the second you take that first sniff, it’s easy to see why Old Pulteney stands out so much. It’s a whisky that isn’t afraid to be different and is a whisky that celebrates its history, and embraces its coastal location, rather than shying away from it.

Old Pulteney Distillery – Giving Thanks to the Sea

Established in the year 1826, the distillery was actually established in the name of Sir William Pulteney, despite the fact that he passed away more than two decades before the distillery was founded, in 1805.

Because of its coastal location, the distillery, situated in the far northern reaches of the Highlands, could only be accessed by boat. In fact, it was once the most northerly distillery in all of Scotland.

Located on the shores of north-eastern Scotland, the distillery used to have to have its barley shipped over via boat. In fact, in the early days, many of the workers at the distillery were employed primarily as fishermen, specialising in Herring. On a side note, if you’ve never tried smoked herring before, you simply must, as it puts any supermarket smoked salmon to shame. Pair it up with a fine single malt, such as those we’re reviewing today, and you have a match made in heaven.

Anyways, back to our history lesson. The distillery uses water which is sourced from the nearby Loch hempriggs. It is incredibly pure and soft, and helps give their whisky its unmistakable character. Remember how we said this distillery celebrates its roots? Well, another example is the fact that the distillery gets its water from an old mill lade which was constructed by legendary Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.  

The whisky produced here is unpeated and is aged by the sea. Because of this, you can expect plenty of coastal influences in the finished product. Make no mistake about it, it’s a wonderful wee dram and sticking with just one glass requires more willpower than we here at Great Drams can muster up, that’s for sure.

Old Pulteney Single Malt Whisky Range

Old Pulteney age their whisky right by the sea, primarily in American oak and Spanish oak casks in a racked warehouse along with a traditional dunnage warehouse.

Incidentally, a dunnage is like a scaled-down version of a warehouse, much like you would find centuries ago. It is much smaller in height (roughly 3 barrels stacked on top of one another). Typically, they have a slate roof, thick stone walls, and an earthen floor.

The dunnage is designed to promote superior air circulation, and because of its size, means that the barrels have to be shifted and moved by hand as there simply isn’t room to get a forklift inside. Plus, we’re not sure how well a forklift’s wheels would handle the earthen floor of the dunnage either (though it would probably perform better than many of the rear-wheel drive cars we get in this country when we get more than a light dusting of snow).

Anyway, Old Pulteney have both a dunnage and a racked warehouse, and because of their coastal location, you get plenty of maritime seaside influences shining through in the finished product. So, expect plenty of salty, brine-rich, seaweed-y notes in many of the drams we’re about to review.

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Even though the Great Drams team specialises in Scotch, we are very partial to a good bourbon, so any chance to combine the two together, we welcome with open arms. So then, imagine our delight, when we were fortunate enough to review this gorgeous single-malt Scotch, matured entirely in ex-bourbon casks.

The salty sea air works beautifully with the American Oak casks, complimenting the sweet notes of the oak and bourbon whiskey once stored within beautifully.

This whisky is a smooth 40% ABV and is the perfect introduction to Old Pulteney Whisky. It has a gorgeous amber-copper red colour with a slight pink hue that conjures up images of the sun setting over the North Sea.

On the nose, you should get the seaside influences shining through straight away, with briny notes and a touch of that gorgeous sea sir that clears your lungs every time you get a whiff. Sniff again, and the salt has been replaced by sweet vanilla, honeycomb, Scottish oatcakes, and a touch of lightly toasted oak.

On the palate, expect plenty of honey and cream flavours, coupled with salted caramel, citrus zest, chocolate peanuts, slightly peppery notes, and again, a touch of sea air. There’s a lot going on here, and we can’t get enough.

The finish is smooth and full-bodied, leaving you with sea-salted toffee, brine, and caramelised lemon peel.

Old Pulteney 15 Year Old

The next Old Pulteney expression that we’re looking at today is this gorgeous 15 year old offering.

Having matured for 15 long years, this is Old Pulteney’s smoothest, most balanced single malt so far. It’s a firm favourite for many, and we can immediately understand why that is. Somehow, they have taken two complete opposite flavour profiles, from two opposite sides of the flavour spectrum that absolutely should not work, and have made them work. It is intense, yet smooth and rich at the same time, and is balanced perfectly.

Expect sweet and spicy notes with this rich amber coloured whisky, coming in at a warming 46% ABV.

On the nose, you should detect generous amounts of dried fruit, honey, crisp apples, chocolate malt, creamy oatmeal, and a touch of salty sea spray to marry the flavours together perfectly.

On the palate, your first sip should reward your tastebuds with sea salted caramel chocolates, straw, sea air, spiced Christmas cake, toffee apples, and a very, very faint floral note.

The finish is medium and full-bodied, leaving you with a hint of Jamaican ginger cake, dark chilli chocolate, and a whisper of black treacle.

Old Pulteney 18 Year Old

If you like your flavours even more intense, and your whisky even spicier than usual, Old Pulteney 18 Year Old should definitely be on your list to Santa this year (or your shopping list if you’re reading this in the summer).

Having matured for 18 years, this whisky is drawn from a combination of both Spanish ex-Oloroso Sherry and American oak ex-bourbon casks. It’s deep tawny amber colour comes entirely from the casks in which it has aged, as is its character. It is a spicy, warming, slightly sweet and salty whisky that is a little zestier and more vibrant that some of their previous expressions.

At 46% ABV, you certainly get the “burn” you’d expect from a single-malt, without it being overpowering in any way, shape, or form.

On the nose, you should get the spicy notes straight away, with winter spices in particular, shining through almost immediately. You should also be able to detect warm chocolatey notes, sweet honey and vanilla, mature oak, and a very slight hint of charcoal influence from the bourbon.

On the palate is where the whisky really explodes to life. Expect sweet and bitterness in equal measure, thanks to the sweet apple and dark chocolate flavours you get straight away. You will also pick up plenty of sweet honey, iced Christmas cake, lime zest, and a touch of sea spray.

The finish lingers, offers a wonderfully spicy mouthfeel, and will leave you with more citrus notes, sea salt, and a touch of damp straw with orchard fruity notes lingering in the background.

Old Pulteney Huddart

The final expression from the Old Pulteney Whisky range we’re reviewing today is Huddart.

Named in honour of the street in which their visitor centre is located, and indeed, their spiritual birthplace, this whisky is unlike many of the others found in the Old Pulteney range, in that it offers a slightly smoky note.

The whisky first ages in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, before being transferred into ex-peated whisky barrels, where it picks up a slightly smoky, earthy, peaty note, without being too overpowering. If you like your whiskies with a very slight hint of peat, you’re going to adore this great dram.

At 46% ABV, you get a little more bite thanks to the peat notes. The rich gold colour looks absolutely gorgeous in both bottle and glass, and the whisky itself is probably the most intense to come out of this particular distillery.









On the nose, you should get caramel and apple pie, combined with creamy vanilla fudge, oily leather, and a murmur of bonfire smoke lingering in the background thanks to the peat. There is also a touch of sea spray to be enjoyed, if you really put your nose to good use.

On the palate is where the intensity of this wee dram really becomes obvious. Here you should pick up caramelised sugar, ripe bananas, Caribbean spices, and sea salted caramel with a touch of brine. There is again a very light touch of smoky peat fire.

The finish is lengthy and drawn out, offering earthy malt notes, honey and thyme, and again, a suggestion of smoke. There is also a wonderful oily mouthfeel to be enjoyed.

If you’re a fan of whisky, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t, be sure to head on over to GreatDrams.com and check out the range of whiskies we have available.

Primarily Scotch, we offer a wide range of exotic, rare, award-winning, and unique whiskies that you can’t find anywhere else. We also have an extensive array of whisky blogs where you can learn more about your favourite drams from here, and all over the globe.

Whether you want smooth and fruity, peaty and smoky, blended, rich and balanced, or any other whisky, we’ve got drams to suit all palates, budgets, and preferences. Don’t take our word for it, though, head on over to the Great Drams website and see for yourself.  

Tags: Old PulteneyScotch Whisky RangeSingle Malt


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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