Whisky Advent Calendar 2015: Day 15

15 12 2015

Only 10 days and 2 statutory holidays until I get to stop writing about whisky on a continual basis!  We have reached the 60% mark of whisky Advent, and what better way to celebrate than to crack something that looks and sounds like it would be at home being cracked on the streets of a little Scottish town:  Old Pulteney 12 Year Single Malt, possibly better known as The Maritime Malt.  Nestled in the coastal town of Wick (“once known as the herring capital of Europe”) on the very northeastern tip of Scotland, this is the most northerly distillery on the mainland, in the far reaches of the Highlands.  Old Pulteney was established back in 1826 and is known, at least to itself, for producing whiskies that have a whiff of the sea about them.

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The colour of old sap, the Old Pulteney 12 Year had a baffling series of aromas given that it was matured in ex-bourbon casks, which usually impart sweet flavours.  Not so much:  this whisky smelled funky, grimy, cheesy and salty, like the inside of an old boat (not the whiff of the sea I was expecting, let’s just say).  Casting about (damn it, maritime metaphors!) for aroma descriptors, I settled in my notes for “locker room, Sharpie, bouncy balls, Cheetos bag, pretzels”, so do with that what you will.  There was a surprising and immediate alcohol burn on the first sip despite the whisky being diluted to the usual minimum 40% abv, and some harshness remained in the spirit even after I (begrudgingly) added water.  It tasted more along expected scotch lines, but its lemon and grilled pear fruit was surrounded by hot rocks/sauna, hickory bark and shoe leather, and it was almost tannic in its textural dustiness.  I summed up my thinking by writing:  “This is cheap, right?”  Yes it is:  at $65, possibly the cheapest single malt in the calendar.  This all sounds predominantly negative, but I didn’t have that bad a drinking experience with this scotch; I just felt that it lacked some of the finesse and style of the other malts.  It’s a blue-collar fishing village dram…what else from The Maritime Malt?

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