During the nineteenth century, the town of Wick was the herring fishing capital of Europe and as many as 1,000 boats used the port. Indeed, Pulteneytown, the area of Wick south of the river, was built for this purpose in 1810 by its namesake, Sir William Pulteney. The Pulteney distillery itself was founded by James Hendersen in 1826. Lying close to the coast to the south of Wick, the distillery was only accessible by sea and to this day remains Scotland’s northernmost mainland distillery. The whisky was exported on boats and barley was shipped in and its maritime traditions were such that distillery workers also moonlighted as fishermen.
Pulteney operated under Buchanan-Dewar, who became part of Distillers Company Limited in 1925. Five years later the stills of Pulteney fell silent. It was not before two decades had passed, that production restarted, following Robert Cumming’s acquisition in 1951. Allied Breweries purchased the distillery along with parent company James & George Stodart Ltd in 1961.
Following the acquisition of Pedro Domecq, Allied sold the Pulteney whisky distillery to Inver House Distillers who remain the owners, though since 2006 they have been under Thai Beverage control. The distillery is relatively small with a capacity of just one million litres annually. Single malt whisky is bottled under the name Old Pulteney and there have been both official and independent releases over the years.