The Whisky Shop was founded in 1992 in the Edinburgh Waverley Mall. In the years since, it has grown to become the largest retailer of whisky in the UK with 20 shops across the country and a boutique in Paris, France.
Back in 2006 the shop decided to launch a members club that would offer tastings and discounts to loyal customers. Originally known as the Glenkeir Club, it has developed today into The W Club, with thousands of members across the United Kingdom making use of in-store and online discounts, whisky tastings and a subscription to the quarterly magazine ‘Whiskeria’ as well as access to online auctions and members-only bottlings, the latest of which, is a single cask offering from Old Pulteney distillery in Wick. Distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2019 at 51.4%, it retails at £99 a bottle.
Membership to The W Club starts at just £30 per year. For more information, see here.
The Pulteney distillery was founded in 1826 by James Henderson and named after Sir William Pulteney, governor of the British Fisheries Society and the man responsible for employing the eminent civil engineer Thomas Telford to design the town’s herring port.
The distillery remained in Henderson’s family for the best part of a century before it was sold to James Watson & Co. of Dundee in 1920. Luck was not on the side of this new owner however. In 1922, the growing temperance movement won a siginificant victory in the passing of a law that allowed local burgh’s to hold a vote on the banning of alcohol. Wick became a dry town and despite soldiering on until 1930, Pulteney distillery was eventually mothballed, unable to survive without local custom.
Following the Second World War, the ban on alcohol was abolished and the government encouraged distillers to return to production, desperate as they were to grow the country’s exports. Pulteney reopened in 1951 and has been in constant production ever since.
Today the distillery is owned by Inver House Distillers, alongside Balblair and Knockdhu. Famously known as ‘the maritime malt’, the flagship 12 year old has become a mainstay of the whisky market over the years, but was joined in 2018 with a new core range comprising of the no age statement Huddart, 15 and 18 year old expressions.
Smell: Vanilla and lemon. Pastry – pineapple danishes! Sea salt and black pepper. Cinnamon. Pear, apple and lime. Lots of marzipan.
Taste: Toffee, apple and pear. Pepper. Brine. A ton of oak then cinnamon and a squeeze of lime juice.
Value for Money: A little on the steep side at £99 a bottle though it’s fair to say that single cask Old Pulteney doesn’t show up too often and therefore holds a certain appeal when it does.
Score: 41.5 / 50
Those who do fork out for a bottle should be pleased with what they find. Sometimes I find Pulteney’s ‘Maritime Malt’ nickname to be a little misleading, especially in the case of their regular 12 year old which speaks far less of the sea than some other coastal spirits. At full cask strength however, there is a significant blast of the North Sea in this dram that mingles well with the subtle influences of the cask. One of the better examples I’ve had from this distillery in a few years. I just wish they’d taken the price down £20 or so…
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