Whisky is on a roll at the moment, and barely a week goes by without some new special whisky launch, quite often involving whiskies which command prices running in to thousands of pounds.
It’s a mad, crazy and mind-boggling world which has attracted the fashion set like moths around a flame, and if you go on to the internet you’ll find a world of bloggers desperately trying to outdo each other in pursuit of there latest releases.
Stand back a minute, though, take a reality check, and you’ll find that the world of single malt whisky is a lot more straightforward. It’s just a case of deciding what sort of flavour you’re after, setting a budget and then taking some advice from a member of the Whisky Shop team. And you really don’t need to spend a fortune to drink great malt. Indeed, that’s where this feature comes in.
Each week I’m going back to one the iconic whiskies, the classic malts which form the core of the Scotch malt whisky world, and reappraising them afresh. These are the malts which started it all off for so many whisky lovers and may have been forgotten by many as they seek out new and exciting tastes.
This week it’s the turn of Old Pulteney 12 year old.
Can you taste salt in whisky?
The subject’s been debated for years – with the voices of reason saying it’s not possible, and the romantics begging to differ. The latter’s argument is simple: if a cask spends 12 years beside the seaside on a windy Western isle where the sea crashes over the walls in winter and the air all but drips with saline, is it not at least feasible that that sea salt will influence the taste of the final spirit?
But the scientists won’t have it. They will tell you that you would have to pour eight pints of sea water directly in to a cask for the taste of salt to be present on the palate. There’s even a group in New Zealand who take the issue so seriously that they wear ‘no salt in whisky’ t shirts.
And then you taste this. Tastes like salt from here.
Old Pulteney comes from the most northerly distillery o mainland Scotland, in the town of Wick. Once a busy thriving port, the Pulteney area of the town was where all the immigrant workers who came to work the herring in the glory days. There’s little fishing left now, but the town still has its quaint distillery, which is cramped and intense and does a passable impression of the inside of a submarine.
The whisky itself is a refreshing, citrusy and mouth-filling delight, with sugar in the mix as well as salt. It’s a fruit and nut case, too, with some floral and heather notes, and it flits across the tongue like a surfie on a spring tide. It’s incredibly more-ish, what one of my colleagues describes as a t’hrow away the cork’ whisky. And in the drying, pleasant finish there’s something distinctly tangy.
No salt in whisky? I rest my case your honour.