The most northerly distillery on mainland Britain and one of the most remote in all Scotland has won the coveted title of World Whisky of the Year in the 2012 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
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’.
Jim Murray’s Tasting Note:
Old Pulteney 21-Years-Old: If you had the formula to perfectly transform salt, citrus, the most delicate smoke imaginable, sharp barley, more gristy barley, light vanilla, toasty vanilla, roasted hazelnut, thinned manuka honey, lavender honey, arbutus blossom and cherry blossom, light hickory, liquorice, and the softest demerera sugar into the aroma of a whisky, you still wouldn’t quite be able to recreate this perfection…; t24 the sugars arrive: first gristy and malt-laden, then Demerara. This is followed by a salty, nerve-tingling journey of barley at varying intensity and then a slow but magnificently complete delivery of spice…; f24 those spices continue to buzz, the vanillas dovetail with the malt and the fruit displaying a puckering, lively intensity. Ridiculously long fade for a malt so seemingly light, the salts and spices kiss the taste buds goodnight…; b24.5 by far and away one of the great whiskies of 2012, absolutely exploding from the glass with vitality, charisma and class. One of Scotland’s great undiscovered distilleries about to become discovered, I think… and rightly so!
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012 – World Whisky Awards
2012 World Whisky of the Year – Old Pulteney 21 Years old
Second Finest Whisky in the World – George T. Stagg
Third Finest World Whisky in the World – Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheated Mash Bill Bourbon Aged 10 Years
Scotch Whisky of the Year Old – Pulteney 21 Years Old
Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks)- Old Pulteney 21 Years Old
Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask) – Scott’s Selection Highland Park 1981
Best Scotch New Brand – Clan Gold Blended
Scotch Blend of the Year – Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
Scotch Grain of the Year – Clan Deny Cambus 47 Years Old
Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year – Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Years Old
Single Malt Scotch
No Age Statement (Multiple Casks) – Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX
No Age Statement (Runner Up) – Laphroaig Quarter Cask
10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks) – Ardbeg 10 Years Old
10 Years & Under (Single Cask) – SMWS 126.2 Aged 10 Years (Hazelburn)
11-15 Years (Multiple Casks) – The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old
11-15 Years (Single Cask) Berry’s Own Selection Clynelish 1997
16-21 Years (Multiple Casks) – Old Pulteney 21 Years Old
16-21 Years (Single Cask) – The GlenDronach Single Cask 1992
22-27 Years (Multiple Casks) – Highland Park Aged 25 Years
22-27 Years (Single Cask) – Malts of Scotland Port Ellen 1983
28-34 Years (Multiple Casks) – Benromach Years Old 30
28-34 Years (Single Cask) – Scott’s Selection Highland Park 1981
35-40 Years (Multiple Casks) – Balvenie Aged 40 Years Batch 2
35-40 Years (Single Cask) – Peerless Glen Grant 40 Years Old
41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks) – Highland Park 50 Years Old
41 Years & Over (Single Cask) – Gordon and MacPhail Glenlivet 1954
No Age Statement (Standard)- Ballantine’s Finest
No Age Statement (Premium) – Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute
5-12 Years Johnnie Walker – Black Label 12 Years Old
13-18 Years – Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
19 – 25 Years – William Grant’s 25 Years Old
26 – 50 Years – The Last Drop 50 Years Old
Irish Whiskey of the Year – Powers John’s Lane Release Aged 12 Years
Irish Single Malt of the Year – Sainsbury’s Dún Léire Aged 8 Years
Irish Blend of the Year – Jameson Rarest 2007 Vintage Reserve
Bourbon of the Year – George T. Stagg (143 proof)
Rye of the Year – Thomas H. Handy Sazerac (126.9 proof) Bourbon
No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels) – George T. Stagg (143 proof)
No Age Statement (Single Barrel) – Four Roses Single Barrel
9 Years & Under – Virgin Bourbon 7 Years Old (101 Proof)
10-17 Years – Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheated Mash Bill Aged 10 Years (124.2 proof)
18 Years & Over (Single Barrel) – Elijah Craig 18 Years Old Single Barrel
18 Years & Over (Multiple Barrel) – Evan Williams 23 Year Old
No Age Statement – Thomas Handy Sazarac (126.9 proof)
11 Years & Over – High West Rocky Mountain 21 Year Old
Canadian Whisky of the Year Crown – Royal Special Reserve
Japanese Whisky of the Year – Hibiki Aged 21 Years
European Whisky of the Year (Multiple) – Mackmyra Moment “Urberg”
European Whisky of the Year (Single) – Penderyn Bourbon Matured Single Cask
Indian Whisky of the Year – Amrut Two Continents 2nd Edition
New World Whisky of the Year – Kavalan Solist Fino Single Cask
Jim Murray Liquid Gold Awards
Created to recognise whisky-making excellence around the world some 231 new whiskies, scoring 94 points or more, have been awarded Liquid Gold Awards in the 2012 Whisky Bible.
Representing just 5.1 % of all the whiskies tasted for the 2012 edition they are, says Mr. Murray “the elite; the very finest you can find on whisky shelves around the world. Rare and precious they are liquid gold”.
A full account of the 2012 World Whisky Awards can be found in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012 published today (24 October 2011). And with over 4,500 tasting notes, including 1,200 of the very latest releases, the ‘Whisky Bible’ remains the definitive and most up to date guide available.
Published by Dram Good Books priced at £12.99 ($19.99), the ‘2012 Whisky Bible’ is available through good book shops. Signed copies by the author can be purchased from www.whiskybible.com.