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 into a local stockist to purchase a locally produced memento of your trip!
Updated July 2023 with a sixth distillery!
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 runs Monday - Friday, but you can contact the distillery if you wish to visit at a different time. The tour includes tastings of Wolfburn whiskies, plus a free 'Perfect dram' glass! (01847 891051, Book a tour | Wolfburn Distillery, Thurso)
North Point Distillery: One of the newer distilleries 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, and they are winning lots of awards for flavour and sustainability! if you're a designated driver, you can attend and leave with a miniature bottle of your choice! Please contact the distillery (01847 808120 https://www.northpointdistillery.com/) to book your place on tours.
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, and stay to peruse their shop or for a drink in the 'Last House' tasting room! (07842 401 571 and https://www.johnogroatsbrewery.co.uk/)
Dunnet Bay Distillery: Producer of world-renowned Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka, Dunnet Bay Distillery offers an educational (and delicious!) visitor experience. Advance booking for their tours is essential (01847 851287 https://www.dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk/). Whisky fans should take note Dunnet Bay Distillers are expanding, and their current restoration of Castletown Mill will house the production of Stannergill Whisky from 2024.
Old Pulteney Distillery: Pulteneytown is brimming with nautical history, and Old Pulteney is known as the Maritime malt. There are a range of tour packages to choose from, on the Old Pulteney website. Being one of the older distilleries in the county, there's some amazing stories and things to see on the tour (01955 602371 https://www.oldpulteney.com).
8 Doors Distillery, John O'Groats: 8 Doors Distillery is worth a visit, as they have a stunning tasting room and also offer tours of their whisky production area - which filled it's first cask in September 2022. They also open year round with hot drinks, cakes and snacks to pair with a tasting flight. Even though I'm not a whisky fan, their 'Five Ways' blended liqueur is delicious! Book a tour: 8 Doors Distillery | Whisky Distillery, Scotland
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 other Scottish food and drink! You can also order gift hampers. (4 Traill Street, 01847 892 811 or on Facebook).
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 or https://whiskycellar.scot/)
Ice and Fire Distillery produces Crofters Tears Gin, Highland Gin and Caithness Raiders Rum just south of Dunbeath, look out for them in local stockists: iceandfiredistillery.com
Hellsmouth produces spiced and vanilla rum liqueurs: Hellsmouth.com/hellsmouth-rum.html
Above and Beyond Tours offer 'Taste & Tipple Tours' so you can enjoy a taste of Caithness for a full day without having to argue about who's driving!