Malcolm Waring is the distillery manager at Old Pulteney, until recently the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland. He tells us how Old Pulteney got its name, his reaction to winning the most coveted award in the whisky world, and his approach to whisky-making.
‘The distillery is named after Sir William Johnstone Pulteney who was quite a vocal guy. People would go round saying “Did you hear that Old Pulteney was talking about this and that?”’
‘When we won the top award in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible – well, Jim Murray is a Marmite guy but it really opened things up for us. A lot of people hadn’t heard of Old Pulteney before that. You can take his Bible with a pinch of salt but he’s clearly got a very educated palate because he thinks that Old Pulteney 21 Year Old is the best whisky in the world!’
‘When the 21 Year Old won the Whisky Bible award, if people couldn’t buy it, they’d buy the 17 Year Old. And if they couldn’t buy the 17yo, they’d buy the 12 Year Old! In three days we sold what we would normally sell in three years’
‘Eighty per cent of what you taste you get from the cask’
‘We take from the land. It gives us what we want in spirit and we return it. Everything taken from the land is returned’
‘A longer fermentation gives a more fruity character; shorter ferments bring out the cereal notes’
‘The DNA of Pulteney is coastal, briny and floral with a banana note – but it’s not salty’
‘The coastal note is easy to explain: look out through any window on a stormy day and you’ll see that it’s salted up. It’s salt city round here; we’re only 200 yards away from the North Sea’
‘The story about our [famously shaped] stills? We got our calculations wrong and we couldn’t get the roof back on…’
‘Distilling is all about experience. You make it with your senses, not with a machine’
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