Hello and welcome to everything you need to know about this special edition whisky from Old Pulteney.

The Old Pulteney Pineau des Charentes is a part of their Coastal Series and is described as Wine Cask Matured.

The label reads; Matured in ex-bourbon casks, and casks from the oceanic Charente region north of Bordeaux. Fruity, sweet and balanced.  

Before we break this open, a very quick look at the Old Pulteney distillery itself: 

Established in 1826, Old Pulteney distillery is located in Pulteneytown area of Wick, in the very most Northern part of the Scottish Highlands. As the Coastal Series name suggests, this is a coastal area with strong connections to the sea and related industries. 

The distillery is not in fact named after the Pultneytown area in which it is situated, but was rather named in honour of Sir William Pulteney - a Scottish advocate, landowner and prominent politician who sat in the House of Commons in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds until his death in 1805. And it was he who the Pulteneytown area is named after. 

The Old Pulteney distillery was the northern on the Scottish and British mainland until 1822 until that accolade was taken by the Wolfburn Distillery near Thurso, just 20 miles up the road. 

In its early years, the Old Pulteney distillery was rather inaccessible by land, as a result barley was transported in by sea, and the resulting whisky was shipped out the same way. Characteristics of the whisky are attributed to exposure to sea air during maturation.

Like many Scottish distilleries, Old Pulteney was forced to close its doors in 1930 due to declining sales after the local parish enforced prohibition laws but re-opened in 1951 when the vote was rescinded after the law was abolished. 

So, why Pineau des Charentes? And more importantly what is it? Pineau des Charentes is often just referred to as Pineau and is considered a regional aperitif of western France - and in this instance specifically, in the Bordeaux region. Although it is popular within its regions of production, it is less well known in other regions of France and the world in general.

It is a fortified wine - which for those who are unaware is a wine with a higher ABV spirit added - this process provides the fortification. In the case of Pineau des Charentes - the added higher ABV spirit is brandy - which itself distilled wine - and again in this case is typically brandy also produced by the same producer as the base wine itself. 

According to the Old Pulteney website their Pineau des Charentes offers a lighter, sweeter taste layered on signature Old Pulteney flavours, delivering a truly wonderful dram. 

Let us find out if they hit that mark.

Visual: Rose-tinted gold; rich golden tones with subtle suggestions of strawberry and raspberry hues.

Aroma: Unpeated earthy tones, candied orange peel, light zest spritz and subtle mineral sea-spray.

Taste: Straight up, the initial impression is sweet and fruity - very reminiscent or some dessert wines, which given the cask choices should be no surprise. The earthy notes from the aroma blend with some of the more zesty acidic tones to emulate something of a herbal medicinal quality.

On the swallow, it leaps back in to wine-country. Big, warm heat in the form of boozy sultanas and raisins really take over, quickly transforming in to something more akin to a brandy or cognac experience.

Towards the finish the oceanic salt-spray experience comes to demonstrate with a slight drying of the lips and palate. The after-taste isn't extensive but some subtleties do remain for a reasonably duration; sun dried fruits kick it off, followed by a return of the candied orange peel, and finally, a few festive notes, not dissimilar to a heavily toasted Christmas pudding, to finish off the show.

Once a drop of water is added the fruit becomes even more bold and present, but the alcohol burn also ramps up significantly. All aspects of the Pineau des Charentes charm really take over - the earthy and coastal experience gets dulled down and strong boozy fruits dominate entirely.

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