Old Pulteney - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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Founded in 1826 by James Henderson at the height of Wick's celebrated herring boom, the Pulteney Distillery is one of the most northerly Scotch whisky distilleries on the British mainland.
At a time when road links to the town were yet to be established, the distillery was dependent on the sea for its supply of barley and for the shipping out of its malt whisky. Wick became known for the barrels of silver (herring) and gold (whisky) which left the port in vast numbers.
When the distillery was being bought by James Watson in 1920, the new owner could not have suspected that only two years later, following a majority vote in the local ward, Wick would become a 'dry' town. The complete ban on alcohol licences within the Royal Burgh remained in force for twenty five years to a day, twice as long as the Prohibition in the United States. And so every year on the 28th of May Wickers celebrate the repeal with a wee dram or two.
The prohibition in Wick as well as the economic depression that followed spelled trouble for Pulteney Distillery. In 1930 the production ceased and the distillery was mothballed for over twenty years. In 1951, when the demand for whisky in post-war Europe started growing, the site was acquired by Robert “Bertie” Cumming, a solicitor from Banff. The production restarted soon after and has not stopped since.
Following another change in ownership in 1955, this time to James & George Stodart Ltd, a subsidiary to Hiram Walker & Sons, the distillery underwent major refurbishment from 1958. The traditional floor maltings were decommissioned as part of the project. Today the space is adapted for a Visitor Centre.
Through acquisitions and changes in company structures the distillery ended up with Allied Domecq who in 1995 sold it to the current owners – Inver House Distillers. Under the new new ownership the Maritime Malt is launched in its now iconic guise – in 1997 Old Pulteney 12 Year Old is presented to the international audience. This hails the beginning of a new era.
Old Pulteney celebrated its Maritime heritage through partnership with a renowned British explorer and adventurer Jock Wishart. As a result, the brand took part in a daring expedition which as its name – Row to the Pole – suggests, resulted in Jock and his team reaching the North Pole using a solely man-powered boat. This extraordinary feat of adventuring is recognised as one of the great 'firsts' in the history of Polar exploration.
Old Pulteney continued to broaden its portfolio of single malts, introducing a 17 Year Old in 2004 and a 21 Year Old a year later. Together with the much-loved 12 Year Old they now form Pulteney Distillery's core range. But it isn't until late 2011 that the world truly learns of these mature expressions. Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, the most influential publication on whisky in the world, names Old Pulteney 21 Year Old the World Whisky of the Year 2012, starting one of the busiest and most exciting periods in distillery's history.
Following a year-long epic journey, the Old Pulteney, a yacht competing in the Clipper Round the World Race 2013-2014, completes the circumnavigation of the world and arrives safely at the starting point in London. Skipper Patrick van der Zijden and his crew help to write another beautiful chapter in the Maritime Malt's history, carrying the unmistakable bulging bottles to the furthest corners of the globe under Old Pulteney's navy and white sails.
Our tours are currently limited in line with Government guidelines. However we open to prior bookings for our whisky tasting masterclass.
+44 (0)1955 602371
Here at Pulteney Distillery we offer a range of behind-the-scenes tours to allow you to experience our unique location for yourself.Book a distillery tour