Old Pulteney - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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13th November 2014
You can visit Pulteney Distillery a thousand times and you may still not fully appreciate our rugged coastal location completely unless, at least once, you approach it from the direction of our original supply and export route – the sea.
Many things have been said about terroir in whisky-making over the years. Some suggest it's a factor contributing so little to the finished product as to be verging on insignificance yet others say that no amount of understanding and control over the process can replicate the sense of belonging to a place.
For us, the unique Caithness climate undoubtedly shapes the way Old Pulteney matures, not to mention that the briny sea air inexplicably leaves a mark on our single malt, and, crucially, our way of understanding and applying the craft of making whisky and the little quirks and idiosyncrasies of our site here in Wick come together to create a phenomenally complex picture. A picture of a spirit which we believe can not and will not be replicated exactly.
Recently we had the great pleasure of hosting a few good friends here at our Disitllery. We thought it would be a good idea to show them both sides of the story. So we told them all about our milling obsession, the mashing regime, the unique dried yeast strain, the impact of our famous wash still and the robustness the traditional worm tub condensation leaves in the Pulteney new make. We told them all about the importance of slow maturation in our warehouses on site.
But what we could not explain, we had to show.
We set out in the early afternoon in a sturdy RHIB with the great people of Caithness Seacoast. We left the Harbour and sailed north along the cliffs, passing Noss Head, the lighthouse after which one of our exclusive Travel Retail expressions is named, and eventually turning west into the Sinclair's Bay to admire the incredible ruins of the Girnigoe Castle.
As soon as we turned around the Nose, the sea, calm and inviting thus far, swelled, swirled and rippled, exposed to the northern winds and currents and as if sensing the proximity of the treacherous Pentland Firth gave us a gentle taste of its might. Knuckles went white as we held on and cameras landed in dry bags. With a flick of a finger the North Sea warned us and our guests that it was a force to be reckoned with. It was a mere grumble of a sleeping giant, of course, nothing out of ordinary and nothing dangerous to us in our seaworthy boat.
As we sped back into the Wick Harbour, the sun peered through the clouds revealing Thomas Telford's engineering masterpiece in its full glory. Somewhere there, a few minutes walk up the hill, on Huddart Street, Pulteney's stills hummed their monotonous sea shanty. It all comes together here in Wick, you see. The Distillery with its process and heritage, the town with its people, and the sea – the quiet witness and the keystone ingredient of the Maritime Malt.
To arrange a tour with Caithness Seacoast visit their website here: http://www.caithness-seacoast.co.uk/