In 2011 the founders of Wolfburn Single Malt Whisky travelled to Thurso in Caithness, the most northerly town on the British mainland, in search of the old Wolfburn distillery.
After 150 years of neglect, what they found of what was once one of the largest whisky producers in the county was a pile of old stones. The only thing that remained was the flow of water that once fed the mash tun and stills all those years ago.
The team were convinced that if the water was still there, then the whisky could be too. In May 2012, the purchase of the land was finalised.
By January 2013 the new Wolfburn distillery was complete and on Burns Night, a cask of Wolfburn whisky - the first for nearly 150 years - was laid down in Thurso.
Using unpeated malt, master distiller Shane Fraser and his team have crafted the latest incarnation of Wolfburn whisky from a blank canvas by pot still distillation, the old way; no automation, no rush and a lot of care. The worts are fermented for roughly 75 hours, allowing the yeast activity to mellow the wash, releasing a series of floral notes that carry through to distillation and maturation and are present in the finished whisky.
The spirit is double distilled, slowly, first through the wash still and then through the spirit still, which were specifically designed and handcrafted by coppersmith Forsyths of Rothes.
Once the distillation is complete the whisky is left to mature on site, in Spanish and American oak casks that are stored using traditional dunnage methods; on their side, bung up, on stows, never higher than three. The end result is a famously smooth, full bodied, and enjoyable whisky bottled at 46% abv.
We recently interviewed Master Distiller Shane Fraser on what it is like to run a craft distillery. You can read all about his typical day and more here.
Key people - Shane Fraser
Shane started work at Royal Lochnagar Distillery as a day-shift operator when he was just 17 years old. Since then he has gained over 23 years experience in the production of fine single malt Scotch whisky and is passionate about his craft. After three years at Oban Distillery he became production manager with J&G Grant and responsible for ensuring the continued quality of the prestigious Glenfarclas range. Shane has been involved with Wolfburn from the early stages of the project, ensuring that the new Wolfburn single malt is in experienced hands from inception to cask.
Key people - Iain Kerr
Star Production Operator
Iain joined the whisky trade at a young age after a brief period in Engineering. Though relatively young in whisky terms, he has spent the past 15 years learning and refining his craft and is a capable hand in all areas of the process at Wolfburn. Achieving a distinction in the General Certificate of Distilling along the way he has worked with Balmenach Distillery, Allt a Bhainne Distillery and Glenlivet. He is the newest member of the Wolfburn team and an enthusiastic, practical addition to an already blooming partnership.
Wolfburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky