Wolfburn distillery information

Originally founded in 1821 by William Smith, the Wolfburn distillery is found on the outskirts of Thurso, in the very northern tip of the Highlands of Scotland. It is, in fact, the most Northern distillery on the mainland of Scotland; a title it took over from Old Pulteney, which can be found some 30 kilometers to the South-East. Back in those days, the Smith family made significant investments into the dfistillery, and with 125,000 litres of whisky annually produced, it was a major player in the region. The distillery remained in the hands of the Smiths until the 1850s or 1860s. The exact year has been lost in history, though local records initially indicated in 1872 the distillery was “in ruins”, though in 1877, those words had been removed. In any case, the distillery was closed, and fell to ruins somewhere in the second half of the 19th century.

The stills at the Wolfburn distillery in the Highlands of Scotland

The stills at the Wolfburn distillery in the Highlands of Scotland

The area surrounding the distillery, the county of Caithness, is well known for its water.Consisting of wetlands and blanket peat bogs, the land is unfit for farming, and thus largely untouched by man, making the waters particularly pure. The region is seen as the last real wilderness of Scotland, and has even been earmarked to be recognized as a UNESCO worlrd Heritage site.

In 2011, the new owners surveyed the site of the old distillery, and decided to move the new Wolfburn distillery some 350 meters downstream of the old location. The land was purchased in May 2012, and construction began shortly after. The first spirit was distilled late January 2013.

The view from THurso

The view from THurso

Wolfburn whisky

The distillery originally intended to use un-peated barley, but due to popular request, they changed their mind, and July 2014 saw the first batch of peated barley filling the mash tun. The intention is to do a limited batch of peated Wolfburn every year (though this might change if the whisky is well-received). Wolfburn want to create a light and fragrant spirit. This is intended to be done by taking their time during the whole distillation process, from when the wort leaves the mash tun, a long fermentation period, and ensuring a prolonged distillation by keeping the temperatures relatively low.

Maturation will take place in a variety of casks made from both European and American oak (ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry). Casks will be filled at 63.5% ABV.

Distillery info:

Founded1821 / 2012
Water sourceWolf Burn
Owned byAurora Brewing Ltd

Wolfburn Distillery
Henderson Park
KW14 7XW
United Kingdom

Visitor centreNo

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun1.25 tonnes1
Washback5,500 litres3 (Stainless steel)
Wash still5,500 litres1
Spirit Still3,800 litres1
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)190,000

Images courtesy of the Wolfburn distillery