The Pulteney distillery in Wick, Caithness, scored a record-equaling 97.5 points out of 100 for its 21-year-old Old Pulteney single malt. It is only the third time that a single malt has ever won the prestigious award, and just the second Scottish distillery to do so.
This year Jim Murray tasted over 1,200 new whiskies plus many more re-tastes for the latest edition of his best-selling annual whisky guide.
Pulteney distillery, which dates back to 1826, is located in the heart of Wick and is much prized as a blending whisky. It is still relatively unknown as a single malt.
But Mr Murray, who has long admired the Highland malt, hopes that will now change – though he is the first to admit that even he was surprised when he encountered the 21-year-old.
He said: “I was on the home straight after four months of continuous tasting. By that time I was pretty sure I knew what the winner was going to be. With what I still had to taste it needed something exceptional to knock the leader off its perch. But that’s exactly what happened. To be honest, I was amazed. I knew the Old Pulteney 17-year-old was likely to be exceptional, and it was. However, I had never come across a Pulteney 21-year-old like it. Talk about coming out of leftfield…
“I first went to Pulteney nearly 25 years ago and I have never known them to produce anything other than top rate malt. Owned by a relatively small company, without the financial muscle of the major whisky barons to market their malts on the global stage, I hope that this award helps Pulteney to become better known around the world; that is the whole point of my Whisky Bible, after all”.
Second and third Whiskies of the World went to went to US bourbons George T. Stagg and Parker’s Heritage collection Wheated Mash Bill Bourbon Aged 10 years, respectively.
In picking up the second placed title with its bourbon brand, George T. Stagg, Buffalo Trace distillers continues to outperform all other competitors in the World Whisky Awards, which were first presented in1994. Since this date, Buffalo Trace has won no fewer than seven top awards including three World Whisky of the Year titles and this year’s runner up place for its George T. Stagg bourbon. “Buffalo Trace continues to be one of the greatest distilleries in the world today”, continues Mr Murray. “Their ability, drive, and passion to produce whiskies of the highest quality year in, year out, without exception is truly and unreservedly astonishing’.