The new Wolfburn distillery has finally bottled their first casks...
After 150 years of neglect what they found was a barely discernible pile of stones but one thing remained from the yesteryears of Wolfburn distillery; the water. The cold clear waters that fed the mash tun and stills all those years ago were still flowing just as they always had, and if the Wolf Burn was still there then we reckoned the whisky could be too......
For the last three years The Wolfburn has been maturing in their Thurso warehouses, slowly gathering character. The spirit has been gently reawakened and now finally, Wolfburn is back!
The final dram is simply outstanding. Light and fragrant on the aroma, sweet with a big Malty base that coats the palate, with a subtle delivery of peat.
Lucky you, when you can taste The Wolburn this weekend for yourself on the Whiskyfestival in Groningen.
Those who have already tried the new whisky have given it tremendously good reviews!
In May 2011 one of the team went to locate the site of the old Wolfburn distillery in Thurso, Caithness. After 150 years of neglect what they found was a barely discernible pile of stones but one thing remained from the yesteryears of Wolfburn distillery; the water. The cold clear waters that fed the mash tun and stills all those years ago were still flowing just as they always had, and if the Wolf Burn was still there then we reckoned the whisky could be too.
A short walk downstream from the old site we found a small flat piece of land carpeted with thistles. We could take just a little of the water each day and once again turn it into whisky. The purchase of the land was finalized in May 2012 and the first ground was broken a few months later in early August. Things were on the move, plans were being drawn up, equipment was being sourced from far and wide and by the end of September the structures of the new buildings were beginning to take shape.
Forsyths of Rothes meticulously designed and redesigned every valve, pump, elevator and screw that would link up the vessels and make it all work. Every single stage in the process would be as efficient as possible employing energy saving devices alongside traditional mechanically operated systems. They worked side by side with the civil engineering construction team to ensure we were always ahead of the weather as winter approached.
Equipment starts to arrive
The old fermenters from the now closed Caperdonich distillery were the first and biggest vessels to arrive. Slid into place before the last wall went up they will be put to use for water and spent lees storage. These two old tanks have a few decades of life left in them yet, supplying the new Wolfburn stills.
Welding and grinding
In November sparks started to fly as Forsyths arrived and began to breathe life into the buildings. Stills beaten out by hand in whisky’s heartland Speyside were transported to the far northern extremes of the Highlands. Temperatures dropped, winter darkness fell and work carried on into the long nights as Christmas and Hogmany came and went.
A new year, a new spirit
Coaxed back into life the new Wolfburn distillery stands proud as its commissioning is completed, and on the 25th January 2013 new spirit started to flow.
“It has been a truly fantastic first year, with production levels far ahead of expectations,” remarks Shane Fraser, Wolfburn production manager. “Right from the start the distillery equipment performed beautifully – we have had very little downtime, which has allowed us not only to maximize yields but also to implement a rolling maintenance plan to ensure the plant continues to operate as efficiently as possible.”
Shane and his team have laid down spirit in a variety of casks throughout 2013. These include small (120 litre) “quarter casks”, ex-bourbon hogsheads (250 litres), and Spanish sherry butts (500 litres). Only the finest oak casks have been used, with the sole aim of making the best possible single malt scotch whisky.
“Those people lucky enough to have tried the new spirit have given it tremendously good reviews,” says Iain Kerr, assistant manager. “We’re aiming to make Wolfburn a very smooth, aromatic and pleasing whisky to drink. So far the results have been absolutely excellent.”
As a result of the huge interest shown by journalists and public alike, Wolfburn distillery has released a small number of casks of whisky to private investors and collectors. “The interest from serious enthusiasts has been very impressive,” comments Shane Fraser. “We plan to release a few more next year, particularly to overseas collectors.”