Review: Old Pulteney Noss Head Lighthouse

In an age of disposable technology and packaging, the presence of lighthouses and their built to last heritage is refreshing. Nowadays everything seems to have an accepted shelf or lifespan and thereafter you have to purchase a complete replacement. Just why exactly? This consumer society is built around the need to upgrade and replace whereas those that designed and constructed Noss Head lighthouse only thought about durability and reliability.

I was reminded of this whilst on the Isle of Skye recently and undertaking the crazy drive to the Northwest side of the island to reach Neist Point Lighthouse. I’ve never been to the Noss Head (hence the photograph of Neist Point below), but can appreciate their importance to the local community and the dedication of those who constructed these vital safety landmarks in the most dangerous of places. 

Whereas Neist was built in 1909, Noss Head was completed much earlier in 1849. Situated near the Wick Caithness Head, it is a fitting inclusion into Old Pulteney’s maritime ancestry. Both Pulteney and Talisker (on Skye) are proud of their sea-faring roots and influences that come through upon tasting their whiskies.

This Noss Head edition is exclusive to the travel retail sector and forms part of a trio of releases from Old Pulteney that make up the lighthouse collection. These are all No Age Statement whiskies that retail from £40-£55 and Noss Head forms the entry point at £40. As I tend to purchase my own whiskies to review here I picked up this rather dinky and splendid 35cl edition of Noss Head for around £25.

Distillery: Old Pulteney
Distilled: this is a no age statement release
Strength: 46% vol
Price: £40 for a 70cl or around £25 for a 35cl bottle via travel retail
Casks: ex-American Oak bourbon casks
Additional: natural colouring and non-chill filtered

Colour: pinot grigio

Nose: vanilla by the bucket load which I’m seeing more of in these no age statement whiskies. Then we more onto green apples, coconut, white onion and some spice with cinnamon and then lime and melon. In summary a fresh, lively young nose that doesn’t offer much complexity.

Taste: more cooking apples and sour cream. A brief touch of smoke and then coconut with a sifting of icing sugar. Rounding it off a limited palate is lemon zest.

I can see a place for this in the summer months when the sun is out and you’re wanting to relax without having to engage too much with the dram in hand. However would I buy it again? No without question as you can pick up better experiences outside of the airport for much less. 

A classic example of a whisky created to meet a travel retailer brief and their requirements, which undoubtedly has the profit margin in pole position. If I was returning from holiday and this was my treat, well I’d be thoroughly disappointed in my selection.  


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