Wolfburn distillery was founded just to the west of the town of Thurso, Caithness, in 1821 by William Smith. The distillery was of considerable size for its day and ran as a successful commercial enterprise for several decades, being handed down through several generations of the Smith family. It is thought to have ceased production during the 1850s, although the exact date is a matter of debate. The distillery appears on the first Ordnance Survey map of the area, dated 1872, marked as a ruin. The reasons for its demise are unclear – very little remains of the original distillery and there are no known photographs. However, records of its annual production volumes of whisky can be found in tax returns, which show it producing 28,056 “Total Gallons of Proof Spirit” during 1826 (roughly 125,000 litres) – making it the biggest distillery in Caithness at the time.
In 2012 a private consortium gained approval from the Caithness planning authorities to build a new Wolfburn distillery in Henderson Park, Thurso. The new distillery is situated approximately 350 m from the site of the old one and draws its water from the Wolf Burn (stream), whence it gets its name. The reinvented Wolfburn site consists of four buildings: the distillery itself and three warehouses for the laying down of casks. Local fabricators Forsyths were contracted to install the distillery plant and equipment. Wolfburn is the most northerly whisky distillery on the Scottish mainland and produces single malt Scotch whisky. Production commenced in early 2013.
In February 2016 the new Wolfburn distillery commenced bottling operations, in a purpose-built on-site bottling facility. The inaugural whisky was launched globally in March 2016 and has gone on to win three gold medal awards in consecutive international competitions.
Wolfburn Whisky Reviews:
- Wolfburn 3 Years Old 2013 (46%, OB, 2016) - Massive potential but looking forward to trying some more mature expressions, this reminded me a lot of some of the earlier Kilchoman expressions. 78/100
- Wolfburn Aurora (46%, OB, 2016) - This light and delicate dram was a little lip-tingling and teeth cleaning attest to the youthfulness of this spirit, whose vigour is tempered by some complex maturation and marrying on the palate. The nose is a little underwhelming and the finish a little over-spiced but don't let this detract from the serious quality in this whisky which at only 3 years old is a great wee drinker and perfect starter dram. 82/100