One of the most remote distilleries in Scotland has won the coveted title of World Whisky of the Year.
Old Pulteney 21-year-old single malt scored a record-equalling 97.5 points out of 100 in the 2012 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
The Scotch is bottled at the Pulteney distillery, the most northerly in mainland Britain in the Caithness fishing port of Wick.
Whisky connoisseur Mr Murray tasted over 1,200 new drams for the latest edition of his renowned annual almanack, which is launched on Monday.
Explaining what set the winner above the rest, he said: “The 21-year-old Old Pulteney absolutely exploded from the glass with vitality, charisma and class.
“It has a ridiculously long fade for a malt so seemingly light; the salts and spices kiss the taste buds goodnight. To be honest, I was amazed.
“I hope that this award helps one of Scotland’s great unsung distilleries to become discovered around the world.”
Pulteney – which dates back to 1826 - has a chequered history within the Caithness town.
In the 19th century, when Wick was a hub for the North Sea herring fleet, locals reputedly downed as much as 500 gallons of whisky a day, causing outbreaks of drink-fuelled violence.
Author Robert Louis Stevenson described the place in 1892 as “one of the meanest of man's towns...fights are common, riots often possible; even when I was there, a gunboat lay in the bay to assist the authorities.”
The people of Wick voted to ban the public sale of alcohol in 1922 following new temperance laws and growing rights for women. It was 25 years before the ban was lifted and Pulteney, which had closed in 1930, reopened in 1951.
Its 21-year-old champion costs £74.99 a bottle and is matured in American oak casks.
A Pulteney spokesman said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award. It is a tribute to the traditional craftsmanship we have honed over the centuries and also to the unique character that the town lends to our whisky.”