Pulteney’s crown as the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland seemed pretty safe - until the Wolfburn distillery, 12 miles up the road in Thurso, reopened in 2013 and pushed it into second place. That’s not to take away from Pulteney’s extremity of location: at the distillery’s founding in 1826, it was supplied with barley by sea because it was so inaccessible by land. Many of the distillery workers were fishermen when not minding the stills, and this maritime tradition has contributed to a single malt whisky with every bit as much of a salty tang as those of the Western Isles, as the casks soak up the sea air in their coastal warehouses.
Presbytarian puritanism has - or, at least, had - strong traction in this part of Scotland, and the distillery was closed between 1930 and 1951 not due to a diminishing water source or lack of export demand, but because the local parish enforced prohibition laws. Luckily Pulteney has returned of late to its rightful place at the top of whisky drinkers’ ‘best-of’ lists: in addition to the enviable commercial success of the 12-year-old, their 21-year-old expression was ranked as the ‘World Whisky Of The Year’ by Jim Murray in his 2012 Whisky Bible.
The unusual shape of the bottles echoes that of their unique stills, and the golden spirit inside carries equally unique flavours of apple, vanilla, nutmeg and bursts of rich spices alongside the aforementioned salty tang.