Worm tubs vs shell-and-tube condensers | Old Pulteney | Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Worm tubs vs shell-and-tube condensers

By Old Pulteney

Pulteney Distillery is one of a handful of whisky distilleries in Scotland to still use traditional worm tubs. We are firm believers that the type of condensers you use has a real impact on the spirit and gives our new make spirit its beefy, full-bodied characteristics.






Old Pulteney

Read Time

4 Minutes

To understand just how much worm tubs impact the new make spirit we produce here at Pulteney, we caught up with the man behind our whisky, our Distillery Manager Malcolm Waring.

1. Why do you still use worm tubs?

The equipment we use to make our whisky is very different to what you would see at most other Scotch whisky distilleries. It’s very similar to the original kit that would have been used back in the early 20th century, and to this day we still use the original design of our worm tubs which very few distillers do. Worm tub condensers shape the integrity of our new make spirit and give our whisky it’s full character and charisma.

2. Are there any unique difficulties you encounter while using worm tubs?

The worm tub condensers we use at Pulteney require regular, specialist maintenance and so we usually schedule this during our downtime in the summer months. It can be a challenge to detect leaks and we need to frequently sample the water for any traces of alcohol. Worm tubs need an artisanal approach to maintain, but the end result is worth it in my eyes.

3. What are the benefits of using a worm tub over something like a shell and tube condenser?

Only a couple of Scotch whisky distilleries in Scotland continue to use worm tubs today. At Pulteney, we have two uniquely shaped stills which are both connected to worm tub condensers. Worm tubs generally yield a thicker, more robust spirit, while shell-and-tube condensers often make for a lighter, fruitier spirit. I find using this more traditional method of condensation adds greater body and depth to our whisky.

4. How does it impact the whisky itself?

Using worm tub condensers helps shape Old Pulteney’s rich and robust character. Worm tubs give us a bolder, beefier and more vivacious new make spirit. Once in American oak casks, these develop into notes of vanilla and butterscotch with any sulphury compounds drawn out during maturation, giving our whisky its distinctive taste and character.

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