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Pulteney is the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland and is situated in the small fishing village of Wick. Once, the busiest herring post in Europe and named after the Viking word for bay, Wick is now host to one of the best-selling single malts in Scotland.

Pulteney Distillery

Interestingly, the solitary wash still comes with a giant ball, to increase reflux and a top that was chopped off as the still was too tall for the stillroom when it was installed! As will be seen from the following tastings, the sea breezes and salty air are very evident in the taste and character that is Old Pulteney single malt. Old Pulteney 17yo Single Malt 46% (a revisit) Sweetly maritme, salty stewed pears, Granny Smith’s apples, a sea scented breeze blowing through a summer fruit orchard. Vanilla ‘n salt combine exotically, warm, caressing like a dense honey-drenched ocean. Huge oily mouthfeel, liqueur-like in texture, apple and plum, then pepper ‘n spice that finishes with the dry, salty, sanguine mix of European oak. 91 Old Pulteney 21yo Single Malt 46% Unchill-filtered Funky sea-fog. The tide is out and there are heaps of salt-encrusted seaweed but on the sea breeze there is a strong whiff of berries; cranberries and blueberries to be exact with honey-soaked barley muted in the mist. Viscous and mouth-coating this dram is a sweet berry stew with waves of salt ‘n spice and a finish of salted stewed prunes. 93
Glencadam distillery is in the centre of what was once the ancient sandstone city of Brechin, featuring a magnificent medieval cathedral built around 1150. The distillery was built in 1825 and is the only surviving establishment in the Tayside area with a pair of small pot stills, whose lyne arms, unusually incline 15 degrees upwards, encouraging reflux. Today Glencadam is a very busy distillery that also runs a huge filling and bottling plant with 16 large tanks for blending malt and grain whisky, producing the likes of Ballantine’s and Stewart’s Cream of the Barley. Glencadam Distillery Glencadam 1991 16yo Single Malt 46% Single & Single (South Africa) Vanilla, over ripe bananas and Cape gooseberries. The palate has an initial sweetness that descends to an aloe bitterness with a dry grapefruit finish. The cask selection reflected by the palate. Not recommended. 70

Glencadam 22yo Single Malt Distilled June 1985 Hogshead Cask03996 43% Chieftains. Vinous and vanilla, so sweet in fact that a honeycomb must have been sprinkled with vanilla icing sugar. The barley is noticeable but timid against the honey-sweet onslaught of pear creme brulee. Silky sweet on the tongue, a chilli bite at the back and then the oak pulses with a hint of bourbon on the finish. A touch of aqua adds icing to the barley cake and makes for a delicious dram. 85 Glencadam 15yo Single Malt 46% Unchillfiltered and No Added Colouring. Wild honey, honeycomb, the barley evident but sweet and sticky with stewed apples and a grassy note. The honey sweetness, the malted barley are all reflected on the palate, deliciously moreish. Doesn’t need any water. A gorgeous dessert-wine dram. Highly recommended. 86 Glencadam 1990 19yo Single Malt Cask0996 46% Montgomerie’s The Single cask Collection (Unchillfiltered and Colouring Free). Wow! Bees to honey on this nose, the barley in repose, happy to be coated in so much vanilla and honey, green table grape, Muscadel and creme brulee. A liquid icing sugar liqueur coating on the tongue, spicy, sweet chilli and the wood, so American, having the last laugh on the finish. Bourbon and vanilla sweet once a dash of water is added. 87

Glencadam 14yo Single Malt 16 Months Oloroso Sherry Finish 46% Unchillfiltered and No Caramel Added. Richer, bolder and fruitier than the 15yo. The Oloroso element dominant. The sweet sherry combining beautifully with the honey and vanilla, almost masking the malted barley in the background but introducing wine gums and chewy fruits. Again, on the palate, this dram is more viscous, creamier than the 15yo, coating the tongue with intensely sweet vinous and barley flavours, then a touch of peppery spice with the Oloroso sherry lingering on the finish stamping its authority again. An outstanding whisky, the sherry element adding so much more depth and complexity. Best tasted untouched, undiluted. 88
Glen Scotia 1992 16yo Single Malt 55.7% Berry’s Own (Original tasting October 2010) Musty oak wrapped in dark toffee with a hint of smoke in the depths. The palate is all rich spicy fruit cake drying to a tannic finish. A splash of water opens the nose to more musty and sherried oak. However the palate is now explosive with chewy Sugus sweets, stewed fruits and finishing with a spiced peaty dryness that lingers into a peppery smoke and medicinal finish. Could have been an Islay malt….92 24th January 2012 Sweet tobacco leaves, barley drenched in maple syrup, the sweetest dark toffee, molasses and the Scotia peat delicately holding this beautiful dram together. This whisky is so gorgeously balanced with the palate reflecting the nose almost note for note. The maple syrup so evident initially, then sweet peppery chilli and the peat smoke lingering on the finish. Again the drop of water is so significant releasing pineapple on the nose, the palate now infinitely more syrupy sweet, the peat now medicinal, distinctly and deliciously Islay. Outstanding! 94
In 1887, there were 21 licensed distilleries in Campbeltown, today there are only three, Glen Scotia being one of the survivors, the other Springbank with Glengyle reopening, after reconstruction, in 2004. Glen Scotia was built in 1832 and is a small distillery, comprising one steel mash tun, six steel wash backs and a pair of swan stills. In 1930, a previous owner Duncan MacCallum committed suicide by throwing himself into the Campbeltown Loch and his spirit apparently still returns to haunt the night shift…. Some of the matured ethereal vapour, I have listed among my all time favourites…..

Glen Scotia Distillery

Glen Scotia 17yo Single Malt 46% Duthies Honeycomb with a hint of a previous smoking, coconut ice, barley sugar with a touch of cereal poking through. A little thin on the palate, the honey notes splash the tongue but then there is a huge grapefruit hit, salty with the barley drying on the finish…not the best example from this distillery. 78% Glen Scotia 12yo Single Malt 43% Honey’n malt. The cereal is dominant with lashings of vanilla and honey. A touch of new rubber in the background indicates the low peating levels. Light and sweet initially on the tongue, then a sprinkle of pepper and a spoonful of salt season this maritime dram and leaves the palate with a lingering light smokiness. 82 Glen Scotia 17yo Single Malt Refill Bourbon Cask 58.9% SMWS 93.35 Maritime, pureed strawberries and salt, sprinkled with icing sugar, the alcohol prickly but pleasant. Thick with vanilla on the tongue, then a touch of chilli as the mid-palate moves through to a lingering lightly braaied(barbecued)barley. A dash of aqua introduces the peat on the nose, boosts the honey and finishes on the palate with warm, sooty, tarry embers. 85 Glen Scotia 1992 16yo Single Malt 55.7% Berry’s Own Musty oak wrapped in dark toffee with a hint of smoke in the depths. The palate is all rich spicy fruit cake drying to a tannic finish. A splash of water opens the nose to more musty and sherried oak. However the palate is now explosive with chewy Sugus sweets, stewed fruits and finishing with a spiced peaty dryness that lingers into a peppery smoke and medicinal finish. Could have been an Islay malt….92 Glen Scotia 1999 11yo Red Wine Cask 58% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Woah! What a recipe! Stewed berries with a peat ember thrown in for good measure, then warm rich toffee and honeycomb syrup slowly ladled into this exotic mix. The palate has rumtopf and anis with rich fruit spice and smoke on the everlasting finish. Water opens up dark toffee with the spiced fruit and smoke gorgeously balanced on the finish. Moreish comes to mind …and more moreish….93 Glen Scotia 1992 18yo 50% Old Malt Cask Wow! A nose of sherry trifle, fudge cake, spicy stewed fruit and dark toffee. A bold mouthfeel of sherry-sweetened stewed dark fruits with a long lingering Oloroso finish. Once opened the nose becomes phenomenal with vanilla, sherried toffee, creme brulee and a hint of parsley. The palate has now developed beautifully with honeyed fruits balanced by a long slightly dry finish. Awesome! 94

This Clan Denny blended malt was released by Douglas Laing’s sister company Hunter Hamilton and contains malts from Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunahabhain, Caol Ila and two others that shall not be named!

Ardbeg Distillery on Islay Clan Denny Blended Malt 46% So familiar, that Islay coastal, salty nose, vanilla and a hint of scorched rubber, salty toffee apple and a touch of horse sweat. Oh yes! They’ve got this one right, the balance is nigh on perfect. The initial intense vanillas, a la Ardbeg, creamily coating the mouth, then a peppery mid-palate with a tarry, seaweed and salty finish. A masterful blended malt that truly captures the spirit of Islay…92. Available at the Wild About Whisky bar in Dullstroom.
CHIVAS REGAL Strathisla Distillery is, without question, the prettiest distillery in Scotland and is the heart and home of Chivas Regal. Set in the picturesque medieval town of Keith, on the banks of the River Isla and with its distinctive twin pagodas, water wheel and gabled granite buildings, Strathisla is well worth visiting. To safeguard the critically important component of the Chivas blends, Strathisla single malt, Chivas Brothers bought the distillery in 1950 and in 2001 The Chivas Group was bought by the French multi-national Pernod Ricard, who have maintained Chivas Regal as one of the top five bestselling blends in the world. CHIVAS REGAL 12 YEARS OLD BLENDED WHISKY 43% On the nose a mixed fruit cornucopia of dark berries, toffee apple swirling with caramel and toffee custard, with some Islay peat misting in the background. Velvety sweet on the tongue initially, then hot peppered spice drying to a woody charcoal finish. Water mutes the stunning nose and does nothing for the mediocre palate. Best neat or straight on ice. 82


Rich vanilla with loads of sweet spice, cardamom and toffee on the nose. The palate is silky smooth with a hint of the vanilla, then a rush of spicy pepper, finishing with a bitter, short, dry aftertaste of old sherried oak. 80

CHIVAS ROYAL SALUTE 21 YEARS OLD BLENDED WHISKY 40% Almonds, Oloroso sherry, a hint of mint, dark toffee and a touch of anise, richly spiced stewed dark fruits with a hazy trail of smoke…what an astonishing nose! Sweetly oily and viscous, coating the tongue with sweet toffee essence, light pepper ‘n spice with sherried wood on the finish. Despite the gorgeous, moreish nose on all three expressions the palate always disappointed, unbalanced with short finishes that went nowhere, which leads me to think that this Chivas range is highly over-rated. 83