Old Pulteney single malt whisky logo.

Old Pulteney Distillery

  • Scotland
  • World’s Best Single Malt – 1989 Vintage, World Whisky of the Year – 21-Year-Old
  • https://oldpulteney.com/
Phone Number
  • +441955602371
  • Huddart St, Wick KW1 5BA, United Kingdom

Old Pulteney distillery warehouse entrance with wooden doors.

History of Old Pulteney Distillery

Establishment and Founder

Old Pulteney Distillery, renowned for its maritime malt whisky, was established in 1826. It is in Wick, a former herring fishing port in the Scottish Highlands. The founder, James Henderson, chose this location due to the abundant supply of local barley and the proximity to the sea, which influenced the whisky’s unique character.

Development through the Years

Initially, the distillery thrived due to the booming herring trade. However, introducing the ‘Highland Line’ by the Excise Act of 1823, which defined the Highlands for taxation purposes, left Wick outside of this line. Consequently, the distillery operated in a more favourable tax environment than its Highland counterparts.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Wick became a ‘dry town’ due to the Temperance Movement, impacting the distillery’s local sales. Despite this, Old Pulteney continued to produce whisky, relying more on exports.

Modern Era and Ownership Changes

Throughout its history, Old Pulteney Distillery underwent several ownership changes. The most notable change occurred in 1995 when Inver House Distillers Limited acquired it. This acquisition marked a significant turning point, leading to increased investment and modernisation of the facilities.

Contribution to the Community

Throughout its history, Old Pulteney Distillery has been a vital part of the Wick community. It provided employment and contributed significantly to the local economy, especially when the herring industry was declining.

Awards Won by Old Pulteney Distillery

  • World’s Best Single Malt – 1989 Vintage:
    • Awarded at the World Whiskies Awards.
    • The 1989 Vintage was named the “World’s Best Single Malt” out of 21 regional winners globally.
    • It also received the title of “Best Highland Single Malt”.
    • This whisky was matured in ex-Bourbon barrels previously used for peated malt whisky​​.
  • World Whisky of the Year – 21-Year-Old:
    • Recognised in Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible Awards.
    • Old Pulteney 21-Year-Old won this prestigious title among approximately 1,500 whiskies.
    • Additionally, it was awarded Scotch Whisky of the Year, Single Malt (Multiple Casks) of the Year, and Single Malt (16-21 Years) of the Year​.
  • Other International Recognitions:
    • Old Pulteney whiskies have been acknowledged in various international spirit competitions.
    • These include the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the International Spirits Challenge, and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Old Pulteney Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Old Pulteney Distillery, situated in Wick, Scotland, invites visitors to experience the art of whisky making. This northernmost distillery in Scotland is easily accessible, with Wick John O’Groats Airport just a mile north of Wick, offering flights to and from Aberdeen and connections to the UK, including Edinburgh and London.

Tour Availability and Booking

  • Operating Hours:
    • April to September: Monday to Friday, and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
    • October to March: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Advance Booking: It’s advised to book in advance due to limited spaces.
  • Holiday Closures: The distillery will be closed on specific dates for staff training and festive holidays.

Location and Contact Details

Located at Huddart Street in Wick, Caithness, the distillery can be reached at +44 (0)1955 602371. Despite its northern location, the distillery is within convenient reach for whisky enthusiasts and tourists.

Tour Experience

Experience the unique character of Old Pulteney’s award-winning whiskies through a guided tour. The tour showcases time-honored production methods and allows visitors to sample a range of single malts. Visitors can choose from standard, premium, and private tour options, each offering a distinct experience of the distillery’s rich history and whisky-making process.

Planning Your Visit

To plan your visit, consider the seasonal operating hours and the necessity of advance booking. Visitors are encouraged to check the distillery’s holiday schedule to ensure the distillery is open during their planned visit.

A visit to the Old Pulteney Distillery is not just a tour; it’s an immersion into the world of traditional whisky making. With its rich history, unique location, and diverse tour options, the distillery offers an unforgettable experience for whisky lovers and curious visitors alike.

Flask & Barrel Review of Old Pulteney Distillery

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s toured more distilleries than I can count, my recent visit to Old Pulteney Distillery was a standout experience. I’d rate it a solid 4.7 out of 5.

First off, the location in Wick gives Old Pulteney a unique edge. There’s something special about a distillery that’s so intertwined with its coastal surroundings. The sea breeze seems to infuse the air – and the whisky – with a subtle, maritime character.

The tour itself was both informative and engaging. Having seen my fair share of distilleries, I appreciated the balance of historical depth and technical insights offered by our guide. They were knowledgeable without getting too technical, making it accessible for both novices and enthusiasts like myself.

Tasting the whisky was, of course, the highlight. Old Pulteney’s range has a distinct maritime quality that sets it apart. The 12-Year-Old was a great starting point, but the 21-Year-Old truly stole the show. It’s clear why this expression has bagged so many awards. Its complexity and balance are remarkable.

The visitor center and the staff there also added to the experience. Everyone was welcoming and seemed genuinely proud of their whisky and heritage. This level of personal touch makes a big difference in these tours.

If I had to pick a downside, I’d say the distillery’s remote location might be a bit challenging for some to reach. But honestly, that’s part of its charm. It feels like discovering a hidden gem.

The Old Pulteney offers an immersive experience that marries history, craftsmanship, and exceptional whisky. It’s a must-visit for any whisky enthusiast. A solid 4.7 out of 5 from me, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

What To Do Nearby Old Pulteney Distillery

Wick Heritage Museum (0.6 km from the distillery): This museum offers a deep dive into the local history of Wick, showcasing the town’s past, especially its herring fishing heritage.

Old Wick Castle (1.3 km): A short distance from the distillery, Old Wick Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest castles, offering historical insights and scenic views.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe: Explore the ruins of this castle, which provides a glimpse into Scotland’s medieval past. It’s a scenic spot that’s steeped in history.

John O’Groats Brewery (0.3 km): Close to the distillery, this brewery is a great spot to explore local beer making. It’s a nice complement to your whisky experience.

Wolfburn Distillery (22 miles in neighbouring town Thurso): A short drive away, Wolfburn Distillery is another excellent spot for whisky enthusiasts, known for its smooth blends.

Noss Head Lighthouse: A bit further away, this lighthouse offers picturesque views and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s a nice place for a leisurely walk.

Ebenezer Place (0.9 km): Known as the world’s shortest street, it’s a quirky and quick stop to add a bit of fun to your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Old Pulteney Distillery?

No.1 Bistro: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at +441955602323 and their location is 1 Ebenezer Pl, UK.

Sabz Spice: This restaurant has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. It’s located at 15 Bridge St. You can contact them at +441955606688.

DeVitas Pizzeria & Cafe Bar: DeVitas boasts a 4.3-star rating on Google Maps. They are situated at 97 High St. You can contact them at +441955602803.

What hotels are near Old Pulteney Distillery?

Norseman Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. The hotel’s address is Riverside, Wick KW1 4NL, United Kingdom and their contact is +441955603344.

The Clachan Bed and Breakfast: It has a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. The hotel’s location is 13 Randolph Place, Wick KW1 5NJ, United Kingdom, you can contact them at +441955605384.

Mackays Hotel: With a 4.3-star rating on Google Maps, Mackays Hotel is another excellent choice. You can contact them at +441955602323, and their address is Union St, Wick KW1 5ED, United Kingdom.