As you travel the Scottish Highlands, you’ll find an abundance of distilleries and breweries producing fine spirits and ales. These drams and brews are well-loved locally, and some have exported to far-flung countries or won prestigious awards. Today’s post showcases the amazing distilleries and breweries that you can visit in Caithness. During a distillery tour or tasting you can learn more about the production process, the history of the local area, and flavour profiles.
Book ahead for a tour or tasting, or drop in to a local stockist to purchase a locally produced memento of your trip!
CAITHNESS DISTILLERIES AND BREWERIES
Wolfburn Distillery: The Scottish mainland’s most northerly whisky distillery, overlooking the Pentland Firth in Thurso. It’s just a short walk from the ruins of the original distillery site, built in 1821. Their distillery tour (£15) runs Monday – Friday, and includes tastings of 4 whiskies, plus a free ‘Perfect dram’ glass! (01847 891051, Book a tour | Wolfburn Distillery, Thurso)
Dunnet Bay Distillery: Producer of world-renowned Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka, Dunnet Bay Distillery offers an educational (and delicious!) visitor experience. For 2021, the distillery offers a tasting experience (£20 per boat shed, seats 2), incorporating some north coast stories which celebrates 2021 as Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters. Advance booking essential (01847 851287 https://www.dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk/)
North Point Distillery: The newest distillery on the Caithness block, producing rum and gin from Forss, west of Thurso. Their signature Pilot Rum takes its inspiration from Northern Pilots who navigated incoming shops on the treacherous Pentland Firth! New for summer 2021 (July onwards) North Point Distillery hope to offer 2 tours per day. Please contact the distillery (01847 808120 https://www.northpointdistillery.com/) to book.
John O’Groats Brewery: Starting life as three homebrewers, the John O’Groats visitor experience is now located at the ‘Last House’ next to the famous John O’Groats signpost. A variety of pale ales and stouts await you in their tasting room! Just turn up for a tour! (07842 401 571 and https://www.johnogroatsbrewery.co.uk/)
Old Pulteney Distillery: Pulteneytown is brimming with nautical history, and Old Pulteney is known as the Maritime malt. At the time of writing (May 2021), there are no distillery tours in operation, but do check the website, or drop into the shop to pick up a bottle. (01955 602371 https://www.oldpulteney.com).
Local stockists and other distilled products
Find a list below of local stockists and other spirits made in Caithness, but look out for them in local bars and restaurants too.
JA Mackay is a family run independent grocer, with an excellent collection of local and Scottish food and drink! You can also order gift hampers. (4 Traill Street, 01847 892 811).
Bin Ends offers a fine selection of whisky, wines, and spirits. (Thurso branch – 28 Princes Street, 01847 893322. Wick branch – 2 River Street, 01955 606006)
Ice and Fire Distillery produces Crofters Tears Gin, Highland Gin and Caithness Raiders Rum just south of Dunbeath: iceandfiredistillery.com
Hellsmouth produces spiced and vanilla rum liqueurs: Hellsmouth.com/hellsmouth-rum.html