In 1826, during a period in the Wick county town history known as the Great Herring Boom, a small distillery was established right in the heart of ‘Pulteneytown’. This Old Pulteney Distillery was and still is one of the most northerly distilleries on the Scottish mainland. Before roads were layed out this Highland Distillery was quite inaccessible. Barley was brought in by sea and the whisky was shipped out the same way. Many of the distillery workers were also employed as fishermen. Wick became known for the barrels of silver (herring) and gold (whisky) which left the port in huge numbers. The distillery itself has an interesting history, with its distinctive pot stills defying convention to this day.
Earlier this year we received a Ballantine’s Finest Whisky as a gift from good friends. Neither John nor I had ever tried a Ballantine’s so we did not know what to expect. We were blown away by what we found. Not only was it an amazing whisky, it earned our first Divine rating for 2014. No blend has every received a ‘Divine’ rating in our books. We grabbed our trusted Whisky Bible and scanned it to see what the great Jim Murray’s views were. And lo and behold, he liked it as well. We were not that wrong. But we noticed that he liked the Ballantine’s 17yo even more. Our friend Marc from WhiskyBrother tweeted that he had a few Ballantine’s 17yo’s in stock. And so we added a second Ballantine’s to our collection.
Last week Friday, I invited some friends for our regular girls lunch. I wanted to spice things up and served an Indian curry lunch combined with a whisky pairing. Research on the internet indicated that Indian food and whisky fit well together. Especially the more peaty whiskies, pair well with the spicy South Indian food. I also found various combinations where the more floral and fruity Speyside whiskies were paired with Indian finger food and seafood. The matching of Indian food and whisky is a delicate balance between the spicy food and the subtle flavours of the whisky. The one should not overwhelm the other, but bring out the best of each element.
On our whisky journey, we seek to obtain a bottle of single malt from every single malt producing country in the world. We were fortunate to get our hands on a bottle of Belgium single malt – The Belgian Owl. This single malt whisky is the first to be produced in Belgium. It shows just how whisky creation has expanded around the world. The Belgian Owl distillery is in the town of Grâce Hollogne, near the city of Liège. It was founded by Etienne Bouillon. The distillery was originally named Pure and the company was set up by Bouillon and two partners in 1997. The first barrel was filled during October 2004, so the first Single Malt Whisky ‘The Belgian Owl’, matured during October 2007.
I grew up with a dad who enjoyed blended whisky. His favourite drams were Dimple and Chivas Regal. This shaped the way I enjoyed whisky in my younger days and I gravitated to blended whisky too. But then a friend poured me a Glenlivet 12 yo and I was blown away. The smooth complex flavours just knocked me over. Needless to say, I still hold the Glenlivet 12 yo as one of my favourite whiskies of all times. The main distillery product range is The Glenlivet single malt , but whisky from this distillery is also used in Pernod Ricard’s other blends, including Chivas Regal and Royal Salute. Too this day, The Glenlivet has a very emotional connection to special events in our life.