Stemster distillery

Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

There were four farms called Stemster (one written Stempster) dotted around Caithness in the early 19th century, all of which could be the location for Stemster distillery. One source pinpoints it at Stempster House, five miles west of Thurso near the Forss Water. Other potential sites are near Wick, near Halkirk and seven miles north-west of Latheron on the A9 to Thurso, where there is a Stemster Hill and Loch Stemster. Current maps show no Stemster Farm in the area, but some long-abandoned farms or crofts are marked.

Stemster, west of Wick, is most likely to have been home to this distillery. The other possibilities are far more isolated and it is logical that distiller James Henderson chose somewhere close by to establish his Pulteney distillery. Crucially, he both stopped distilling at Stemster and started up Pulteney in 1826. It would have been a significant task to achieve that move from a distant Stemster.   

  • Region
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status
  • Previous names

Stemster History

Stemster distillery was licensed to James Henderson in 1821 and he distilled there until 1826. That year, he established Pulteney distillery in Wick, which remained in the Henderson family until 1920 and is currently going strong in the ThaiBev portfolio.


  • 1821 Stemster distillery opens under license to James Henderson
  • 1826 The distillery is closed and Henderson moves his operation to Pulteney in Wick


Stemster House
United Kingdom

See also

  • Bowertower Bowertower Bowertower Distillery


    A rural distillery near Wick, Caithness, which opened in 1826.

  • Brabster Brabster Brabster Distillery


    The farm distillery near Wick was licensed for a brief period in 1798.

  • Brawlbin Brawlbin Brawlbin Distillery


    An early Caithness distillery near Halkirk that at one point encompassed two sites.

  • Dunbeath Dunbeath Dunbeath Distillery


    One of the very earliest registered distilleries in Caithness, indeed the whole of Scotland.

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