Tag Archives: Scotland

Old Pulteney 12, 43% ABV, Highland Single Malt

Keeping with the maritime theme, my next review is for the official maritime malt, Old Pulteney 12. Distilled in Wick, Scotland, Old Pulteney easily marries the heritage of a bygone fishing industry into the spirit of their scotch. The 19th century saw a boom in herring fishing and with it came a seafaring burst of thousands of workers to Wick. The Pulteney distillery rode the wave (so to speak) and was founded at the same time. If you’re interested the Old Pulteney site  has a great lode of information.

Old Pultneney 12 – 43% ABV, Highland Single Malt, ~$40 USD Old Pulteney 12

Color: E150, brown/amber, new leather

Nose: Briny, fresh sea air, wet minerals/rocks, seaweed, wafting smoke, later a sweet and caramel malt

Palate Thin, brisk, airy, light, salty kelpy brine. Truly delightful and crisp with a tendril of smoke from an extinguished bonfire at low tide.

Finish: medium, smoky again and still light, hint of floral begins to play with this maritime heavy wind theme. enjoyable, but left me wanting

Overall this is truly a delicious dram worth repeating, you know, to compare your previous notes.

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Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV, non chill-filtered, Islay Single Malt

After trying the HP 12, my burgeoning palate really missed the peat and smoke found in Laphroaig QC. A little internet sleuthing lead me to a beast of a peat/smoke bomb, Ardbeg 10. Highly touted for it’s robust, take-no-prisoners smoke monster attitude, this little gem hails from Scotland’s Islay region. It is widely known as Islay’s smokiest and peatiest offering.

I had no idea if I was ready, but I was up to the challenge:

Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV, non chill-filtered, Islay Single Malt, $50 USD ardbeg-10-year

Color: Pale, light tan-yellow. Looks thin and when swirled creates fast-moving legs and sprites above the swirl mark showing its non chill-filtered ABV off nicely.

Nose: Like Laphroaig QC, this Islay packs a wallop. Smoke, tobacco, anise, acrid burnt wood freshly snuffed out, background of sickly sweet dense honeysuckle. A neighbor having a barbecue. Your kitchen a couple of hours after you have fried up some bacon for breakfast.

Palate: Like the sight of it suggests, thin. This whiskey sneaks right in there. When held in the mouth the thick summer honeyed floral arrives and as you move the whisky to the back of the palate sharp anise arrives. Then, nothing. For about a second, then PEAT AND SMOKE kick you in the molars. It’s like a strobe light of wood smoke, tobacco, barbecue notes, and a playful sweetness raving inside your gullet. Truly delightful and can really catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it. Beware.

Finish: Ardbeg has finish for what seems like an eternity. I’m surprised to not be exhaling smoke. The higher ABV does not add to burn so much as it adds to intensity of lingering peat, delicate honeyed floral sweetness, and bright anise. The finish, while heavy in notes, is light compared to what you may be expecting.

Overall: Yes, this one is palate puncher for sure. Bare knuckled. I thought the Laphroaig QC was hardcore, but Ardbeg 10 takes the cake. These are all good things. I really enjoy the fact that so much flavor, nuance, passion, and craftsmanship can be conveyed in a single sip. Truly a treasure to enjoy occasionally, but this is not an expression that I need to keep around. While it is exceptional at taking the Islay taste and turning it up to “11”, it’s a piano that only plays the one note.

 

Highland Park 12 year, 43%ABV, Island Single Malt

this next one is one of the most interesting and complex scotches I’ve had to date. Highland Park 12 is quite polarizing to its tasters as well. When I first go into scotch, I began following and reading the subreddit r/scotch. The community is very inviting, quite helpful, and an excellent repository for reviews and future scotch selection suggestions. However, they do not agree as to whether this scotch is great. Some love it, some hate it. It is a poor expression if you like Islay, it is a poor expression if you like Highland. However, I find the hybrid to be quite interesting. It composes both worlds nicely yet leaves you wanting for more from either side.

Highland Park 12 Year, 43%ABV, Highland Single Malt, Orkney Islands $50 USD Highland Park 12

Color: Amber with hues of gold in the sunlight.

Nose: At first is a light smokiness like off clothes worn in an evening next to a campfire. Light and it comes and goes as the nose evolves. Next is an overwhelming honey/nectar/sweet smell that is off-putting at first until the smoke comes back to play. They work well together, but I’m not at all sure I like the sweet by itself. I only get the malt notes with the tail of the honey wave prior to smoke returning.

Palate: This one really coats your tongue and you get a light warmth in your whole mouth before the flavors show up. Sweet honeyed smoke and a waft of grasses blossom as you swallow and then the peppery warmth trails behind the whisky as you swallow.

Finish: It lingers for a long time, pleasantly. I drank it neat and it was almost hot with alcohol at the very split second beginning, but the flavors of sweet smoke caught fire and warmed all the way to my stomach. A good all-round dram.

Overall: A very drinkable, middle-of-the-road scotch. I can see why it polarizes r/scotch so. It is neither an amazing islay, nor an amazing highland, but it is quite drinkable and unoffensive to the palate. As I get into the scotch world, I am finding more and more that I simply prefer big, bold Islay tastes. Highland Park ’12 touches that note, but does not play it very long.