40% RARE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Proprietors: J. & G. Stodart Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
8 years old
7% RARE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Proprietors: J. & G. Stodart Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
15 years old
40 % RARE SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY The Northernmost Distillery on the Mainland Trademark of Proprietors: J. & G. Stodart Ltd, Wick, Caithness Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
40% RARE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Proprietors: J. & G. Stodart Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
33 years old
40% RARE SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY The Northernmost Distillery on the Mainland Distilled 1964 Bottled 1997 Trademark of Proprietors: The Pulteney Distillery Co, Ltd. Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
31 years old
46% RARE SINGLE HIGHLAND MALT SCOTCH WHISKY The Northernmost Distillery on the Mainland Distilled 1968 Bottled 1999 Single Cask No. 3248 Proprietors: The Pulteney Distillery Co., Ltd Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
12 years old
43 % THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Distilled 26/4/90 Bottled 6/11/2002 Cask no. 25005 Matured in a Bourbon Barrel Genummerde flessen The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L.
26 years old
58,3 % PEERLESS CASK STRENGTH RARE AULD SCOTCH WHISKY A Unique Whisky of Distinction Fons et Origo Distilled 1977 Bottled 2004 Cask No 3078 209 numbered bottles
15 years old
46 % Distilled 1986 Bottled September 2001 Non Chill - Filtered Limited Edition Pulteney Distillery Co.
20 years old
57,5% Distilled 1983 Bottled Februari 2003 Cask No. 6181 Single Cask Bottling Limited Edition Pulteney Distillery Co.
15 years old
43 % LAST BOTTLE AND EMPTY THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Distilled 27/10/89 Bottled 29/3/05 Matured in a Bourbon Barrel Cask no. 12172 Numbered Bottles The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L
21 years old
INFO 1983 - 2004 NINETEEN EIGHTY THREE THE GENUINE MARITIME MALT Limited Edition Special Edition No Chill Filtration No Colouring Pulteney Distillery, Wick
16 years old
46 % THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY SELECTION Single Highland Malt Distilled: 27/10/89 Matured in a Bourbon barrel Cask no: 12179 Bottled: 13/02/06 Numbered Bottles Natural Colour Non Chillfiltered The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L.
Aged 17 years
46 % THE GENUINE MARITIME MALT Special Edition Cask Bottling Non Chill-Filtered Pulteney Distillery Co, Wick
Aged 28 Years
58,6 % RARE AULD SC0TCH WHISKY CASK STRENGHT Unique Whiskies of Distinction ´Fons et Origo´ D T C date distilled 07.1977 date bottled 11.2005 cask no. 3077 204 Numbered Bottles No Chill Filtering or Colouring of any kind Duncan Taylor & Co, Ltd, Huntly, Aberdeenshire
Aged 15 Years
54,9 % 1991 NINETEEN NINETY ONE CASK STRENGHT THE GENUINE MARITIME MALT Numbered Bottles Old Pulteney Distillery Co, Wick
Aged 30 years
INFO Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distilled, Matured & Bottled in Scotland Neither coloured nor chill - filtered by Pulteney Distillery Co, Wick
VINTAGE 1 9 9 8
14 years old
ighland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND
Selected by Van Wees
Cask Type: 1st Fill Bourbon BarreL
Cask No: 1060
Specially Selected Produced and Bottled by
Speymalt Whisky Ditrubutors Limited, Elgin
OLD PULTENEYINFO ISABELLA FORTUNA
46 % W K 4 9 9 2ND RELEASE Exclusive to Travail Retail Unchill - filtered Natural Colour Pulteney Distillery, Wick
INFO G O O D H O P E W K 2 0 9 LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE TO TRAVEL RETAIL Natural Colour Unchill - Filtered Old Pulteney Distillery Co, Wick
INFO THE MARITIME MALT S P E C T R U M W K 2 1 7 LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE TO TRAVEL RETAIL Natural Colour Unchil - Filtered Old Pulteney Distillery, Wick
OLD PULTENEYINFO Aged 16 years
54.6 % SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY FROM A SINGLE CASK Date Distilled: 21st Nov 1997 Society Single Cask: Code 52.19 Cask Type: Refill Hogshead / ex Bourbon Outturn: One of Only 269 Bottles The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh Flapping sails and ship's timbers
PULTENEY VINTAGE 2 0 0 8 6 years old
46 % THE ULTIMATE SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY Highland Single Malt Distilled: 27/05/08 Matured in a Bourbon Barrel Cask no: 800001 Bottled: 06/05/15 Natural Colour Non Chill Filtered Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company.NL
Highland Malt The Northern Highlands OLD PULTENEY (1826)
Wick, Caithness. Licentiehouder: The Pulteney Distillery Company Ltd. Het eigendom van Inver House. Gesticht door James Henderson in 1826, is Pulteney de meest noordelijk gelegen distilleerderij op het vaste land van Schotland. Sir William J. Pulteney, directeur van de Britse Visserij vereniging is naamgever van de stad. Wick was in die tijd een heel belangrijke vissershaven. James Henderson had aanvankelijk een distilleerderij iets meer landinwaarts, maar verhuisde die naar een plek, meer aan de kust gelegen. De familie Henderson bleef tot 1923 eigenaar van Pulteney, maar ze zagen zich ge-dwongen de distilleerderij te verkopen als gevolg van de crisis jaren na de eerste wereldoorlog. James Watson & Co, Ltd, ook de eigenaar van Parkmore en Ord werd de nieuwe eigenaar. James Watson & Co, Ltd werd een paar jaar later overgenomen door John Dewar & Sons, die vervolgens fuseerden met John Walker en in 1925 samen gingen met de Distillers Company Ltd. (D.C.L). en Pulteney werd gesloten. Pulteney bleef gesloten tot 1951 toen R. Cumming, een notaris afkomstig van Banff en al de eigenaar van Blablair sinds 1947, de distilleerderij kocht. Robert Cumming verbouwde de distilleerderij, maar vond geen afzet genoeg voor zijn whisky en verkocht de beide distilleerderijen aan Hiram Walker, nu Allied Domecq. Allied Domecq ging door met het verbouwen en verbeteren van Pulteney, de ketels (twee) werden vervangen door één grotere en de moutvloeren werden buiten gebruik gesteld. In 1995 koopt Inver House zowel Balblair als Pulteney. Old Pulteney heeft als bijnaam de Manzanilla of the North. Het is een heel snel rijpende whisky. Het koelwater komt van Hempriggs Loch, het proceswater is leidingwater. Old Pulteney kan ongeveer 900.000 liter spirit per jaar produceren. De Mash tun is 38.440 liter. De zes Wash backs zijn elk 23.200 liter. De Wash still is 16.100 liter en de Spirit still 13.200 liter en ze worden met stoom verhit. De distilleerderij kat van Pulteney heet Kipper. William Johnstone Pulteney ( 1729 - 1805 ) Both the whisky and the town are named after Sit William Pulteney, a prominent figure and influential M.P. and once Governor of the British Fisheries Society which had commissioned Thomas Telford to lay out the new township in 1803. In 1790 William Johnstone Pulteney also endowed the first Chair of Agriculture in Britain at Edinburgh University and nominated Dr. Andrew Coventry to be the first Professor. ( 1790 - 1830 ).
Pulteney's Sensational Still: Aside from its unique taste, Pulteney has another claim to fam - the unusual shap of one of its stills. There are two stills at Pulteney, one for each of the distillations needed. The wash still, which was originally purchased from McTaggert of Campbeltown was slightly too large for Pulteney distillery. The manager of the distillery, wa that time, felt there was only one way to resolve this problem, cut th still top off! Although one can never strictly indentify all the factors which lead to a malt's style, such are the number of variables, iy is highly problable that the slightly unusual shape of this wash still contributes to the depth of character present in this single malt.
1824 James Henderson sticht de distilleerderij en geeft de distilleerderij de naam Pulteney, naar Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, directeur van de Britse Visserij Vereniging 1920 James Watson is de nieuwe eigenaar 1923 Buchanan - Dewar neemt James Watson & Co over en wordt eigenaar van Pul- teney 1925 Buchanan - Dewar gaat deel uitmaken van The Distillers Company Limited (D.C.L.) 1930 De produktie stopt 1951 Pulteney wordt weer opgestart, na te zijn overgenomen door Robert Cumming een advokaat die ook Balblair koopt 1955 Robert Cumming verkoopt de distilleerderijen aan James & George Stodart Ltd, het eigendom van Hiram Walker & Sons 1958 Pulteney wordt herbouwd 1959 De mouterij wordt gesloten 1961 Allied Breweries neemt J. & G. Stodart over 1981 Allied Breweries verandert zijn naam in Allied Lyons na de overname van J. Lyons in 1978 1994 Allied Lyons neemt Pedro Domecq over en verandert zijn naam opnieuw: Allied Domecq Plc 1995 Allied Domecq verkoopt Pulteney aan Inverhouse Distillers 2001 Pacific Spirits of wel Great Oriole Group, neemt Inverhouse over voor £ 85 miljoen 2005 Kapaciteit: 1.000.000 liter spirit per jaar.
2006 Inverhouse changes owners when International Beverage Holdings acquieres Pacific Spirits U.K.
Highland Malt The Northern Highlands (OLD) PULTENEY Inver House Ontstaan door een management - buy - out, onder leiding van Bill Robertson en Angus Graham, die € 8,2 miljoen investeerden. November 2001 werd Inver House voor E 56 miljoen gekocht door Pacific Spirits, onderdeel van de op de Virgin Islands gevestigde Great Oriole Group van de Thaise zakenman Charoen Sirivadhanabakdi. Manager van Pacific Spirits is Ooi Boon Aun. Robertson en Graham ontvangen samen € 37 miljoen en ook de 130 medewerkers ontvangen geld, sommigen € 50.000. Inbegrepen in de koop zijn de vijf distilleerderijen Knockdhu, Speyburn, (Old) Pulteney Balblair en Balmenach.
Established in 1826 in the town of Wick, Pulteney Distillery is the most northerly distillery on the mainland and at that time was only accessible by sea. The barley was brought in by sea, the Whisky shipped out by boat and many of the distillery workers were also employed as fishermen. Sadly the fishing industry is no longer part of daily life in Wick but Pulteney Distillery continues to operate using the same traditional distilling methods first introduced in the 1800's to create one of the finest Highland Malts available. Pulteney is one of the most unique Scotch whisky distilleries. The wash still has no swan neck and it is thought that when the original still was delivered, it was to tall for the stillhouse and the manager insisted it was 'cut off. The spirit still resembles a 'Smuggler's kettle' and both undoubtedly contribute to the distinctive character of the whisky. Once distilled, the spirit is filled into a selection of specially selected bourbon and sherry casks and laid to rest in the distillery warehouses, until the distillery manager decides the optimum time for bottling each od the casks. Throughout the years of maturation, the casks have taken time to absorb the Northen Scottish sea breeze and as a result, Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky is often referred to as 'The Manzanilla of the North'.
Our Maritime History
One of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, the Pulteney Distillery was founded in 1826 in Wick by James Henderson, during the town's 'herring boom'. At the time, the town was only accessible by sea; barley was shipped into Wick and the whisky shipped out. Many of the original distillery workers were also herring fishermen
The herring industrie was vital to Wick, which became the busiest fishing port in Europe, with the fleet reaching its peak of more than 1000 boats in the 1850s and 1860s
At this time it was said that you could walk across the harbour from one pier to another without getting your feet wet
With over 7000 workers arriving in the town each herring season, Wick became a wild, lawless place where rioting was common. With the Reverend Thomson claiming that more than 500 gallons of whisky were being drunk in the town each day, and troops and gunboats being called in to keep the peace, the authorities imposed prohibition. Although prohibition was not lifted until 1947, the Pulteney Distillery continued to produce whisky in the town, even though it was by law, dry. In 1997, 50 years to the day after the repeal of prohibition, Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky was launched
A Unique Distillery
The most northerly distillery on the British mainland, Pulteney Distillery is one of the few distilleries to be named after a person; Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, who gave his name to Pulteneytown in Wick. Pulteneytown was built (along with the harbour and bridge) by the world - famous engineer Thomas Telford using money confiscated from the Jacobite chiefs after Bonnie Prince Charlie's failed revolution.
Pulteney Distillery is itself one of the most unusual malt distilleries, with the wash still having no 'swan neck'. It is thought that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the stillhouse and the manager simply cut the top (of the still) off. This, combined with the distillery's windswept location and the use of traditional 'worm tubs' to condense the spirit, is credited with contributing to a malt that has been described as "unashamedly excellent" by leading whisky writer Jim Murray
All Old Pulteney is bottled in a unique bottle, the shape of which mirrors that of the still at Pulteney Distillery. Aged for 30 years, this expression features single malt whisky matured in ex - bourbon (American oak) wood. It is neither coloured nor chill - filtered
Established in 1826 in the town of Wick, the Pulteney Distillery is the most northerly on the and at that time was only accessible by sea. The barley was brought in by sea the whisky shipped out by boat and many of the distillery workers were also employed as fishermen.
During the 19th century, Wick became the capital of the "Herring Boom"which saw the
town transformed from a remote Highland village into "the greatest fishing station In the world" with more than 1000 drifters harboured there. The fishing industry was dominated by the "Herring Drifter"fishing boats, originally sail boats, with the first recorded steam drifter built in Wick in 1869. All boats from Wick are indentified by the letters "W K " in their registration. At the peak of the "Herring Boom" steam drifter
numbered more than 1,800 of which only two seaworthy examples remain intact today.
The fishing industry is no longer part of daily life in Wick but Pulteney Distillery in the heart the the town, continues to operate using the same traditional distilling methods first introduced in the 1800's to create a astonishingly complex single malt, with a rich mineral - salted spiciness that is the very essence of this remarkable place.
ISABELLA FORTUNA W K 4 9 9
Originally called Isabella and launched in 1890 powerd by two big lug sails she plied the waters of the north east for 86 years. In 1919 she was fitted with a 15 hp Kelvin engine which was upgraded in 1928 and then again in 1932. All this time her name changed to Fortuna. In 1976 she was purchased and restored and became the Isabella Fortuna incorporating both original names. She was acquired in 1997 by the Wick Society where she remains to this day, the last drifter in Wick harbour.
6th February 2013
The Spirit Safe is replaced , built by Blairs of Glasgow, but not brand new, is was originally at the Glenflagler distillery in Airdrie which closed in 1985.
The Spirit Safe had only been used for 19 years.
In addition th this the cooper on the stills has been newly - lacquered and also a new mash tun is installed.
GOOD HOPE W K 209
Built in Wick in 1948 and powered by a Gardner 152hp engine she was 55 feet In length and weighed in at 24 tons. The Good Hope was the first boat in Wick to install an echo sounder, using radio navigation to find the ever elusive shoals of herring.
SPECTUM W K 2 1 7 Built in 1920 and made famous as one of the first Wick drifters to use a pioneering type of fishing called Anchor Seine Netting. She was also used in the 1939 - 45 war for harbour service duties.
1 September 2013-09-06
The Lighthouse Collection:
This Collection features 3 different additions: Noss Head, Duncansby Head, Pentland Skerries, each bears the name of a lighthouse close to the Pulteney Distillery.
Pulteney an Old Pulteney yacht is one of the ships of the Clipper 2013 -2014 Round the World Yacht Race, skippered by Dutchman Patrick van der Zijden.
A feature that has not changed since the foundation of Old Pulteney is its water source. Both process and cooling water comes from Loch of Hempriggs, via the longest lade or millstream in Europa, 3 ½ long with a drop of only 3,8 m feet, is was designed by Thomas Telford to supply water to all Pulteneytown and is still in perfect working order and until 1920, the water drove a waterwheel which supplied all the power to the distillery.
Wick by the middle of the 19th century, Wick had become the leading herring port in Europe, with 1122 boats fishing from here at the height of the Herring Boom.
This provided employment for 3800 fishermen and 4000 people from associated trade creating a ready market for whisky.
WICK, WHISKY AND THE HERRING BOOM
Silver and gold… The history of the remote Highland town of Wick is all about the ‘silver darlings’ – the shoals of herring that brought 19th-century prosperity – and whisky, the golden ‘nectar of Caithness’.
Pulteney distillery has endured through most of Wick’s rollercoaster history
Whisky flows through the teeming pages of Wick’s rich history, from 17th-century battles through the Victorian herring boom and into the crusading efforts of the temperance movement in the 1920s.
In that time, ‘the nectar of Caithness’ has killed people and lured them to their ruin; it has provided a livelihood to many, and been source of relief to many more; and it has, in its darkest days, inspired a period of Prohibition twice as long as that endured in the US.
The shoals of herring – the ‘silver darlings’ that brought so much prosperity to this place – are a distant memory now, and the town hasn’t been ‘dry’ in 70 years. Still, the Pulteney distillery lives on as a physical reminder of Wick’s tribulations, surviving temporary closure and multiple owners to enjoy altogether better times in the early 21st century.
On first impressions, the town has a serious, even severe look about it, drawn up around the focal point of the harbour – which now boasts a modern marina populated by pleasure craft, and RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) offering tourist trips to explore the dramatic coastline and its teeming wildlife.
That’s some contrast to the picture 150 years ago, when there were so many fishing boats moored here that a person could reputedly walk from one side of the harbour to the other without getting their feet wet.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; whisky first. As in so many parts of Scotland, in this north-eastern corner of the country the national spirit recedes into the mists of history; but, as long ago as the 17th century, it was part of everyday life.
Still standing: But Pulteney distillery was closed for more than 20 years from 1930
In July 1680, a dispute over the earldom of Caithness between Lord Glenorchy and George Sinclair led to a violent battle near Wick – the last of its kind on Scottish soil, and one in which whisky played a decisive role.
The story goes that Sinclair’s troops were quartered in Wick on the eve of battle, thinking that its comforts would give them the edge the following morning. They reckoned without the scheming of Glenorchy, however. Historian Thomas Pennant reports:
‘Glenorchy thought proper to add stratagem to force. He knew that in those days whisky was the nectar of Caithness, and in consequence ordered a ship laden with that precious liquor to pass around, and wilfully strand itself on the shore. The Caithnessians made a prize of the vessel, and in indulging themselves too freely, became an easy prey to the Earl.’
The battle the following day was one-sided to say the least, with Sinclair’s hung-over troops driven into the river, many of them drowning.
Shortly after Pennant visited Wick in 1769, a new trade came to the town that was to utterly transform its fortunes for the next century and a half. Herring fishing began to take off from the late 1780s, but the intervention of the British Fisheries Society in the early 1800s led to the creation of Pulteneytown on the southern banks of the Wick river – and the foundation of what was then the world’s biggest herring port.
The scheme was the brainchild of Sir William Pulteney, a remarkable character who, when he died in 1805, was one of the wealthiest men in Europe, with a fortune equivalent to £5bn after judicious investments in the Americas (he is said to have owned half of Manhattan Island).
Governor of the British Fisheries Society, Pulteney commissioned protégé Thomas Telford to draw up plans for a new town and fishing port to fully exploit the nascent herring boom. Pulteney died before it could be completed, but the town (and, later, the distillery) was named in his honour.
Pulteney’s and Telford’s plans were ambitious, but they could scarcely have foreseen what was to come: by the 1830s, the volume of ships was such that an outer harbour had to be added – and that was just the beginning.
More than 1,000 boats moored in Wick every year in the mid-19th century (Photo: The Johnston Collection/The Wick Society)
In 1862, more than 1,100 fishing vessels were based at Wick for the summer season; the population of the town, normally just a few thousand, multiplied by three or four times when the herring fleet was in.
Some lived on their boats, others in dormitories above the curing sheds, or in attics, cellars and outhouses. Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and diphtheria were a frequent threat.
Robbed of home and livelihood by the Highland Clearances, many had trekked for 100 miles across wild country for a chance of work and pay. Most had little or no experience of fishing; accidents and fatalities were frequent as a result.
Not just men, either. The ‘herring lassies’ descended on Wick in their many hundreds, spending 12 weeks each summer gutting and packing the ‘silver darlings’ before following the herring south to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
The peak was reached in 1867 when, it is said, 3,500 herring lassies gutted 50 million herring at Wick in just two days, packing them into barrels for export to England, to Scandinavia, to Russia and the US.
Some 650 coopers were resident in Wick at this time, coopering 125,000 barrels a year to cope with demand. When the local oak was exhausted, they used larch, birch and fir; when that too was gone, birch, ash and Scandinavian fir were imported from Norway.
This was thirsty work, as one James Henderson was swift to recognise. The records state that he had ‘attended to a small distillery owned by himself’ at the family farm in nearby Stemster from about 1819, but seven years later he abandoned this ‘unofficial’ enterprise to go legit in partnership with local businessman John Kirk. The licensed distillery – then making Henderson’s Whisky and later to become Pulteney – was soon very busy indeed.
Some 50 million of the ‘silver darlings’ were gutted in only 48 hours at Wick in 1867 (Photo: The Johnston Collection/The Wick Society)
During the 1840s, the town had no fewer than 41 licensed premises (20 in Wick, 21 in Pulteneytown) and, in 1844, it’s reckoned that more than 800 gallons of whisky – roughly 5,000 bottles – were being consumed every week. And this wasn’t mature, 40% abv whisky, but fiery new make at about 69% abv.
‘They used to fish every night, starting in the evening when the herring came up to the surface,’ says Malcolm Waring, Pulteney distillery manager. ‘They took stone flagons [of whisky] with them, and they drank.
‘They would sell their catch every day and get paid every day, get their money and go to the pub. There was heavy drinking.’
Despite all of this, Wick was also God-fearing, with the Sabbath strictly observed and prayer meetings heavily attended. There was a strong temperance movement – led, as you’d imagine, by the women who saw precious little of their husbands’ wages – and it is perhaps surprising that Prohibition took so long to come to the town.
When it did, in 1922, times were already radically different. The First World War had taken its toll on the young male population, and the conflict, combined with changing tastes and rampant overfishing, had all but killed the herring boom. ‘There were 18,000 casks of salted herring sitting on the docks when the First World War broke out,’ says Waring.
Fishing continued, moving on to white fish and cod; then, more recently, crab, lobster and scallops – but it never regained the heights of the Victorian age.
Counter-intuitively, Prohibition did not mean the end for the Pulteney distillery; after all, it was a big world beyond the borders of Wick and, even in the town itself, ‘wayfarers’ could still enjoy a drink (but only with a meal).
Pulteney’s stills ran on until 1930, through a few changes of ownership, until the Depression succeeded where Prohibition had failed. The distillery remained silent until 1951, four years after Prohibition in Wick was lifted.
Pulteney distillery was a busy place while the herring boom lasted (Photo: The Johnston Collection/The Wick Society)
It has been in operation ever since, again with several different owners, before passing to Inver House Distillers in 1995. And, though much has changed – most notably through refurbishment in the late 1950s and post-1995 – this quirkiest of distilleries retains a flavour of the past in its cramped conditions, Heath Robinson-esque layout and two of the weirdest stills you’ll ever come across. The spirit, to its credit, is similarly characterful and distinctive.
And now, beyond the distillery doors and downhill to the harbour, there’s a fresh scent of renewal in the air – and not just in the marina and the tourist-carrying RIBs.
Up to £3bn is being invested in offshore wind farms here: a first tranche of 80 or 90 turbines, then – if all goes to plan – another 250, which would create one of the biggest projects of its kind in Europe.
For Wick, this means jobs. About 200, in total, as most of the services for the farms will be located in the town. Some of the old buildings designed by Telford for the fishing trade are being restored, discovering a new life more than two centuries after they were built.
And so the sea is once more bringing a livelihood to the people of Wick. One that may lack the scale of the 19th-century herring boom, but which promises to be far more environmentally sympathetic.
From the harbour, up through the streets of Pulteneytown to the distillery, things are looking up again in this far-flung, but eternally fascinating, corner of Scotland.
Pulteney’s stills are a reminder of the distillery’s past, producing a characterful spirit
The Wick Heritage Museum is a remarkable institution. Staffed by volunteers, it is an incredible resource of artefacts, documents and information, including the Johnston Collection – 100,000 photographs taken between 1863 and 1977 by three generations of the same family. Rabbit warren? Aladdin’s cave? Take your pick – and take your time.
The Wick Heritage Centre, 18-27 Bank Row, Wick, Caithness KW1 5EY; telephone +44 01955 605393. Open from Easter to the end of October, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.
You’re advised to book in advance if you want to visit Pulteney distillery. Tours take place at 11am or 2pm, and the visitor centre is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm between October and April; and Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, plus Saturday 10am-4pm, between May and September.
Caithness Seacoast promises ‘exhilarating sea tours’ (and they’re not kidding), exploring the East Caithness coastline using its two-engine RIB. Various options, open April to October and in winter by arrangement.
You can’t really come all this way without visiting John O’Groats, taking the obligatory selfie next to the signpost and gazing wistfully across the water to Orkney. There’s not much to the place, with the stunning exception of Natural Retreats, which offers a selection of luxury apartments and lodges. The view’s not bad either.
Natural Retreats, John O’Groats; telephone 01625 416430.
Old Pulteney 25YO and 1983 Vintage launched
28 September 2017
Old Pulteney 25YO and 1983 Vintage launched
The launches follow the withdrawal of the distillery’s 17-year-old and 21-year-old malts.
Old Pulteney to withdraw 17yo and 21yo
22 June 2017
Old Pulteney to withdraw 17yo and 21yo
Lack of stock means expressions will be discontinued – but no increase in NAS products.
Though Pulteney is no longer mainland Scotland’s most northerly distillery [see Wolfburn] its stills remain the country’s oddest. It is possible that they retain a similar design to that installed by James Henderson which were described as being similar to those as used by smugglers, though these are considerably larger.
Pulteney’s wash still has a massive boil bulb almost as large as the base of the still and a flat top. This helps to produce high levels of reflux and separate specific alcohols. The spirit still has both a purifier pipe and a very convoluted, coiling lyne arm. Again, reflux is maximised here, with that purifier conceivably adding oiliness to the character. Condensing takes place in worm tubs which add weight.
Old Pulteney (as the brand is named) demonstrates this balance between the heavy, leathery and oily, with a fragrant almost ozonic freshness.
From the late 18th century until the start of WWI, the northern port of Wick was the capital of the herring trade. Its huge harbour was built in 1808 and a decade later 822 boats were operating out of the port. By 1860 that number had risen to over 1,000.
This explosion in trade in turn necessitated housing and in 1810 Thomas Telford built a new town on the south bank of the river which he named Pulteneytown after Sir William Pulteney MP, who as head of the Fisheries Board was instrumental in Wick’s expansion.
This rapid increase in population then, inevitably, cried out for a distillery and in 1825, James Henderson, who had been distilling out of sight of the law in Stemster, moved into Pulteneytown and started making whisky.
The Henderson family retained ownership for almost a century before selling in 1920 to Jas. Watson of Dundee. Two years later under the influence of an American evangelist, the Wick town council voted to make the town a ‘dry’ one with no sales of alcohol permitted. Whether this had any influence on Graham is unclear, but in 1924 Old Pulteney had been passed on to John Dewar & Sons and from there was brought within DCL. The distillery remained in production until 1930 when a downturn in the market forced it to close.
Its doors re-opened in 1951 – four years after Wick’s ‘Prohibition’ ended – when local businessman Robert ‘Bertie’ Cumming bought it. He sold it and his other distillery, Balblair, to Canadian giant Hiram Walker in 1955 and from there through a series of mergers it ended up in the Allied Distillers’ stable. When Allied sold it and Balblair to Inver House in 1995 it was in dire need of repair.
Since then, the distillery has been renovated, a visitors' centre has opened and the Old Pulteney brand has been successfully established.