Although the herring trade that dominated Wick's commerce is no more, Old Pulteney is still going from strength to strength.
The Pulteney distillery was founded in 1826 and after spells under the ownership of Buchanan-Dewar, DCL, Hiram Walker and Allied Domecq the distillery was sold to Inver House in 1995, since when it has been the centrepiece of the company's portfolio.
Old Pulteney has a few distinctive features. Apart from being the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland, it is one of the very few remaining urban distilleries -sited, appropriately, in the 'Pulteneytown' area of Wick. In the distillery itself, the wash still is extremely unusual in that it is without a swan neck - supposedly the result of emergency surgery after it was discovered that the still was too tall for the building in which it was to be housed. In addition, Old Pulteney is one of only a handful of distilleries still using a worm tub condenser - more unusual still in that it is made out of steel rather than wood.
The standard expression is a delightfully clean, tangy 12 year-old with a distinctly salty finish prompting the company's marketeers to name it "The Maritime Malt". The 17yo and the rarer 21yo official bottling are also held in extrememly high regard by malt fans. Independent bottlings are rare, although Gordon & Macphail have released a handful of vintage expressions in the last few years.
Tim F (with additional info from Ingvar Ronde's Malt Whisky Yearbook, Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion and Misaka Udo's The Scotch Whisky Distilleries)
From the website:
Established in 1826, The Pulteney Distillery is found in the heart of 'Pulteneytown', the town created to house fishermen during Wick’s 'herring boom'. The most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland, the spirit crafted here is a distillation of this unique location.
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.
The distillery itself has an absorbing history, with its unique pot stills defying convention to this day. The wash still, in particular, is a source of fascination to visitors due to the absence of a 'swan neck'. Legend has it that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the still house and the manager simply decided to cut the top off!
The Old Pulteney bottle now incorporates a bulbous neck to reflect the shape of the stills.
Over time, the distillery has passed through the hands of various owners, and even closed during times of trouble for the industry in 1930.
However, throughout this history what has endured is the quality of the whisky. Traditional craftsmanship and the distillery's windswept location continue to contribute to the award-winning whisky that is Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch.
Old Pulteney is the flagship single malt Scotch whisky brand in the Inver House portfolio, and is an individual and evocative maritime-influenced single malt Scotch whisky. The core 12 year old expression has demonstrated double digit growth in the mature UK market as well as strong performance in all other key markets throughout the world in recent years.
The whisky itself is a deep amber colour, with the nose detecting a hint of sea air and it has a dry, medium-bodied and smooth taste with a clean, dry finish: faintly salty and with a slight sherry note.
When the Pulteney Distillery was established in 1826 it was only accessible by sea. The raw materials required for production being brought in by sea, and the whisky was shipped out again by boat. Many of the distillery workers at that time were also employed as fishermen. Sadly, the herring fishing industry is no longer part of daily life in Wick but Pulteney Distillery continues to operate, distilling one of the finest malts available today.
Character and Style of Old Pulteney