On a recent visit back to Old Blighty I had the opportunity to more than sample some Old Pulteney 21. I had never heard of the distillery since my interests have tended to focus on Islay, Speyside and Highland single malts. It was merely one bottle, an unopened office gift amongst several, to a friend who very rarely imbibed and had only a vague inkling as to what good Scotch was – there were the obligatory over-marketed, over-packaged and over-priced blends of Chivas and Johnny Walker Blue Label office/Christmas gifts. With even the most pedestrian of single malts far more interesting than Chivas and JW, one has to wonder why people think that Chivas and JW are class acts – well not really, they are just ignorant and fall for the over-the-top coffin-like packaging, the sort of aesthetic that was characteristic of “Posh and Becks” wedding. Anyway back to Old Pulteney. I did enjoy it immensley despite it not being really to my default taste – i.e. the smokey Islays. I have since discovered that Old Pulteney 21 had recently won World Whisky of the Year. I wouldn’t read too much into this but I do think that the Old Pulteney distillery is thoroughly underrated and though hardly a favourite of mine, is producing very interesting and quite different tastes. (Of this trip’s single malt “sampling” the old favourites Laphroaig, Dalwhinnie, Talisker and Ardbeg never let me down). As with all single malts the characteristics are determined by location (the most northerly on the British mainland). Furthermore, for Old Pulteney:
The wash still, in particular, is a source of fascination to visitors due to the absence of a ‘swan neck’. Legend has it that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the still house and the manager simply decided to cut the top off!