The Old Pulteney Distillery takes it’s name from Sir William Pulteney, who founded Pulteneytown where the distillery is based. Sat on the coast line of Wick, the area was once at the heart of the herring fishing industry. James Henderson founded the distillery in 1826 at the height of the herring boom, with many of the workers moonlighting as fishermen. As the most northern distillery on the British mainland it is only accessible by sea, with barley being brought in by boat and the whisky shipped out.
It’s water is sourced from Loch Hempriggs, approximately 2 miles to the south, with it travelling to the distillery using an old mill race which once powered an old barley mill situated on the site.
In 1920 Old Pulteney was purchased by James Watson, however only two years later the local ward voted for Wick to become a ‘dry town’, forcing the distillery to close soon after in 1930. This ban remained in place for exactly 25 years, twice as long as the US Prohibition.
In 1951, after the ban was lifted and the demand for whisky began to rise post World War II, the distillery was purchased by Robert Cumming, a solicitor from the nearby Banff.
Numerous changes, both in ownership and to the distillery itself, have gone on in modern times. Now owned by Inver House Distilleries new ages have been released, ushering in a new era with their Old Pulteney 21 year old named World Whisky of the Year in 2012 by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.