World’s Best Single Malt Whisky of 2016 at the prestigious World Whisky Awards. The Old Pulteney 1989 was bottled in 2015, which makes it 26 years old. It has been matured in second-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, which had previously held heavily peated malt whisky. It’s quite unusual to see many whiskies like this, which (a) proudly wear the second-fill label on its sleeve, but (b) has unpeated spirit maturing in casks that are caked in peat from another whisky. It’s a form of flavouring, in a way, but all within the law.
Colour: pretty pale for its age – old gold, yellow gold perhaps. That’ll be the second-fill cask.
On the nose: peated, yes, but very coastal. Brine. Flecks of citrus. Lots of esters, with green apple notes. Pineapple. Grapefruit. Quite floral, in fact, with a touch of rose. Grassy and vegetative. Unassuming.
In the mouth: Viscous and oily. Gorgeous texture, with a lot of intense levels of what are usually quite subtle flavours. Lime juice and soda. Oat biscuits. Boiled pork. Dried hops. Light and fresh. Orange peel, or rather blood oranges. Stewed apples. Grapefruit juice. Honey. A little briny, coastal quality on the finish – and really, the peat comes across only in a gentle warmth rather than anything in your face. There’s none of the earthiness or sweetness; the peat is more on the nose, and the spirit’s inherent oily, coastal qualities take over.