Whisky regions

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Old Pulteney is an environmental innovator. In conjunction with the North Highland Council, they use excess thermal heat from the distillery as fuel to heat over 1500 local homes in Wick

Old Pulteney marked on a Scotland map

Old Pulteney map
Country - Scotland
Region - Highlands

Old Pulteney

Old Pulteney Distillery Old Pulteney Distillery
Huddart Street
Wick
Caithness
KW1 5BA
tel - +44(0)1955 602 371
web - www.oldpulteney.com

Tours through the Old Pulteney distillery - available all year round. Telephone to arrange a tour

Old Pulteney's story
Old Pulteney is the most northernly distillery on the UK mainland, lying just 18 miles (30km) south of John O'Groats. It is located on the outskirts of the north Highland town of Wick and is the only distillery to be named after a person, Sir William Johnstone Pulteney. He was director of The British Fishing Society and the biggest name in the fishing industry in the early 1800s. The town of Wick used to carry his name being called Pulteneytown, until it merged with Wick Harbour on the opposite side of the river estuary in 1902 and was officially named Wick. The current owners, Inver House Distillers, saw potential for its whisky in the growing single malt market and chose to promote this rather than fulfilling old blending contracts. By 2006, Old Pulteney had broken into the world top 20 for single malt sales and despite the relatively low production capacity of one million litres per year, the plan is to grow sales even further.

Old Pulteney's history
The town of Wick grew from virtually nothing, thanks to the fishing industry in the early 1800s. By 1840, Wick was the herring capital of Europe and over 1000 boats operated from its newly constructed harbour. Workers came from all over Scotland to work there and they drank a lot of whisky! The number of small illegal stills located in the town struggled to cope and in 1826, one of these locals decided to build a legal still. His name was James Henderson and he named the distillery Pulteney, after Sir William Pulteney. Pulteney supplied the town with a peaty, salty whisky until the herring industry collapsed during the First World War. By the end of the 1920s, unemployment in Wick was high and drunkenness was even higher. In a bid to curb this behaviour, the town council (along with over 50 other councils in a similar situation throughout Scotland) decided to ban the sale of alcohol. This ban remained in place in Wick until 1939 and as a result the distillery closed in 1930.

Pulteney remained closed for 20 years before being rescued and restarted by the Robert James ‘Bertie’ Cumming who owned the Balblair Distillery, that is located further south down the north east Highland coast near Tain. During the late 1950s the distillery was sold to Hiram Walker of Ballantine’s whisky who rebuilt and expanded. The whisky produced there contributed significantly to major blends such as Ballantine's. Pulteney struggled on through the difficult whisky crash of the 1980s while other remote distilleries were closed. In 1997, the distillery was purchased by Inver House Distillers. They changed the name to Old Pulteney and decided to concentrate on the single malt market by launching a 12, 17 and 21 years old as a core range. These decisions breathed new life into the ailing distillery and put it back on the whisky map.

Old Pulteney's whiskies
Old Pulteney 12 years old whisky
  • Old Pulteney 12 years old
  • Vanilla and fruit are joined by Old Pulteney's characteristic saltiness from the coastal sea air that is plentiful in Wick
  • click for tasting notes
Old Pulteney 1994 sauternes wood finish whisky
  • Old Pulteney 1994 Sauternes wood finish 'Private Collection'
  • Produced by Gordon & Macphail, this whisky has been finished in a Sauternes wine cask giving it an edge of dried fruit, honey and butter. Limited release of only 2050 bottles
  • click for tasting notes
Old Pulteney 'Isabella Fortuna' WK499 whisky
  • Old Pulteney 'Isabella Fortuna' WK499
  • The name is taken from a herring trawler that served the local port of Wick for over 80 years. Crisp, salty, intense and tangy.
  • click for tasting notes