Old Pulteney single malt Scotch whisky has just announced underwater explorer and Blue Planet cameraman Doug Allan as the first partner in its new campaign, Rise With The Tide.  

The collaboration is using the Rise With The Tide campaign to follow inspirational stories of those whose lives have been shaped by the sea, something which ties in well with Old Pulteney as it is known as the Maritime Malt.

As one of the world’s best known and respected cameramen, Doug Allan specialises in wildlife filming, particularly underwater.

His 35 year career has seen him work on over 65 films and documentaries to date, including the renowned Blue Planet, narrated by David Attenborough.

His award-winning work includes eight Emmys and four BAFTAs – most recently, the BAFTA Scotland Outstanding Contribution to Craft Award in 2017.

An outspoken ambassador for protecting our oceans against the effects of climate change, his life has been shaped by the sea, starting from the moment he tried on his first diving mask and learning to dive in Scottish waters.

To launch the campaign, Old Pulteney invited Doug to their Highland coastal hometown of Wick to swap stories with distillery manager Malcolm Waring, and to learn how embracing the sea’s power has led him on an incredible journey – all captured to create the first short film in the new Rise With The Tide series.

The film explores Doug’s best moments and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, diving into the beauty of the UK’s coastline, and opens up about the significance of patience, an important virtue when working with nature.

Often shooting for days or weeks at a time, he recognises that the biggest rewards in life only come one way – with patience – something Old Pulteney is familiar with too.

Speaking of the new campaign, Doug Allan said: “Working with Old Pulteney has been a real pleasure – a wonderful insight into how the sea not only shapes our environment and our wildlife, but also our whisky.

“I was struck by how much the team at Pulteney Distillery view the sea as a silent partner in their whisky making.

“The passion from Malcolm and the team at the distillery was evident, and I quickly understood how much respect they have for the sea – it’s made them who they are. So, it’s no wonder they want to highlight its life-giving, awe-inspiring power.

“For me, venturing into wildlife photography has brought me everything I could have hoped for in life – from diving into the unknown underwater, experiencing the excitement of befriending wild animals and witnessing them in their natural habitat, and exploring vast landscapes in some of planet’s most extreme conditions – what a journey it’s been.”

Malcom Waring, Pulteney distillery manager said: “Meeting Doug was like meeting a kindred spirit.  He understands perfectly how the sea can be embraced for the betterment of people, place and product, and that’s a value we hold dear here at Pulteney.

“The sea is absolutely a part of everything we do…  we’re known as The Maritime Malt for a reason. Our collection has a beautifully fresh, briny quality to it thanks to our casks ageing in the sea air – and it’s been that way since the beginning, when our hometown really came into being thanks to the herring fishing industry and really, thanks to the sea.”

Doug Allen’s sustainable staycation recommendations

Doug Allen

Wick, Scotland

The far north east of Scotland has its own character and Wick’s a great place to be based while you explore. Castle Sinclair Girnigoe to the north sits right on the cliff edge, like somewhere out of a Harry Potter movie.

When I was filming with Old Pulteney in Wick, we went out along under the cliffs, the fulmars and kittiwakes gliding just over my head, taking the boat under this huge rock arch, poking the bows into the surging canyons. Back onshore, Malcolm the Distillery Manager at Old Pulteney took me on a fascinating tour, a chance to fully appreciate all the skills and crafts that go into creating a special dram.

With the saltiness of my boat trip still on my skin, I could sense even more acutely the pride they have in their own whisky’s maritime roots. 

Where to stay: Mackays Hotel, situated on the world’s shortest street. 

Where to eat: Whaligoe Steps café and restaurant 

Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

From the last layby before the Kyle, where the bridge crosses over the sea to Skye, take a look straight over to the island itself. If the tide’s right, you’ll see a line of metal plates breaking the water surface.

That’s the wreck of HMS Port Napier, an RN minelayer that sank over there in 1940 after a fire onboard. She’s now a superb dive, one that still feels very like a ship rather than a pile of wreckage on the sea floor. Great potential for memorable photographs.

Where to stay: The Greenhouse Glenelg 

Where to eat: Grab some fresh seafood at The Waterside restaurant

Connemara Coast, Co Galway Ireland

Magnificently empty hills, not as high or as extensive as Scotland, but just as challenging. My favourite route is the Cloaghan Horseshoe, a challenging eight mile hike where you might meet half a dozen other walkers on a good day. Great views all round, over the bog where Alcock and Brown landed after the first transatlantic flight in 1919, over to the wild Atlantic. Sailing, diving and of course the famous Irish craic are all to hand.

Where to stay: Connemara Coast hotel 

Where to eat: West Restaurant, complete with champagne bar.

The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

One of these places that has its own unique air of mystery. As a wee boy visiting for the first time, I remember running around on top of the hexagonal blocks, and trying to climb up some of the basalt columns. No idea about the geology, just excited by the strangeness of the place. 

Where to stay: This beautiful sea-front Airbnb cottage

Where to eat: Tartine Restaurant at The Distillers Arms, just a 6 minute drive away. 

Penzance, Cornwall, England

One of the best places to set out looking for UK’s biggest fish, the Basking Shark. For me as photographer, the bigger my subject, the better, and to have one of these guys swim past is awesome. No fancy dive gear required, these massive fish are just subsurface, huge mouths wide open, gulping in the plankton. 

Where to stay: This nearby cottage, Tea House, which is just 11 minutes away. 

Where to eat: Mackerel Sky seafood bar 

Shetland, Scotland

Picture: Geograph/Andrew Tryon

Huge skies, edge of the world feeling, the persistent all night glow – the simmer glim – in the sky over midsummer. And the draxies – the Shetlanders’ name for otters. Best to enlist the help of the local naturalists and photographers who know the draxie shore haunts. Be prepared for early starts and pack lots of patience as well as a flask of tea, but this is the best place in Scotland to see them, hunting in the kelp beds just offshore.

Where to stay: This stunning Airbnb in Sandwick, Shetland. 

Where to eat: Grab a lovely warming coffee and cake at Fjara coffee bar in Lerwick. 

Farne Islands, Northumberland, England

I like filming mammals. Humans are mammals, and so are whales, polar bears or gorillas. And like us, those wild mammals have personalities. You can develop relationships with them if you behave ‘properly’ in their presence, if you give off the right vibes. Out on the Farnes, the Grey Seals can be super curious.

They come up to your boat, they swim with you underwater. Enjoy their company, take your children and watch them turn them into sea respecters for life. We’ll all be better for the experience. 

Where to stay: The Bamburgh Castle Inn, a good base to stay on the mainland when visiting Farne Islands by boat.  

Where to eat: The Treehouse Restaurant, just a short drive away. 

Aberdeen Harbour Mouth, Scotland

OK so it’s blowing a force eight, whitecaps and lumpiness out at sea. Not a day to venture out. But there’s one place you’ll still have a good chance of seeing wild dolphins. There’s a fantastic viewing point at the old Torry Battery, overlooking the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour.

The resident bottlenose dolphins come right in, sometimes showing off their acrobatic ability with mad leaps well clear of the water as they socialise with each other.

Where to stay: Aberdeen Douglas Hotel 

Where to eat: The Silver Darling – right on the front to watch the dolphins.

May Isle, Firth of Forth

I come from Dunfermline in Fife. I grew up there and learned to dive there, so it’s not surprising I have fond memories of the area. I remember going out as a youngster to May Isle, and then doing the same with my own son.

There’s something special about taking a boat to somewhere isn’t there? Take out a picnic, wander around the cliffs, look at the colonies of Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and Shags. You’ll find a quarter of a million birds there in a busy breeding season.

Back on the mainland, in the bonny wee fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife, plenty of lovely gentle places to stay.

Where to stay: This stunning cottage in East Neuk

Where to eat: Reilly Shellfish –as fresh as seafood can get. 

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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