The distillery was established in 1826 in the name of Sir William Pulteney, who sadly died in 1805. The distillery was the most northerly on the Scottish mainland and was quite inaccessible, except by sea, when established. Barley was brought in by sea, and the whisky was shipped out the same way. Many of the distillery workers were also employed as fishermen. The herring fishing industry is no longer part of daily life in Wick but the distillery continues to operate, producing a Highland single malt with a reputation as one of the finest available. Characteristics of the whisky are attributed to exposure to sea air during maturation.

The distillery closed in 1930 due to declining trade after the local parish enforced prohibition laws but re-opened in 1951 when the vote was rescinded after the law was abolished. It is now owned by Inver House Distillers.

The Pulteney site uses water from an old mill lade, constructed by Thomas Telford. This stream flows out of Loch Hempriggs, 3 or 4 kilometres (2 miles) to the south/southwest, and is reputed to have powered a barley mill at or near the site of the distillery.

Old Pulteney is a multi-award-winning collection of whiskies that has secured some of the top awards around the world. Including the prestigious ‘World Whisky of the Year’ in ‘Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible’ awarded to Old Pulteney 21 Years Old.