Monday, 31 July 2017

Newer Distilleries 1 : Wolfburn

This is the first in an occasional series about newer distilleries - mainly because I wanted to find out a little more about them and I thought if I wrote a blog entry - you could too!

The first entry is about the Wolfburn Distillery


Wolfburn Distillery is located in Thurso in the far North east of Scotland, it's the most Northerly mainland distillery.


Although there was a Wolfburn Distillery on the site in the 19th century, there is little trace of it or its whiskies still around. The present distillery was started in August 2012 with the first new make flowing in January 2013.

The name Wolfburn comes from the nearby Wolf Burn (stream) which supplies the distillery with it's water. Wolves were once a common site in Scotland and the logo comes from a woodcut by Konrad Gesner, a 16th Century zoologist.

Photo :

Photo :
Production process
Wolfburn have a great process diagram on their website explaining how their whisky is created.

Diagram :
Wolfburn have two traditional pot stills of 5,500 litres (Wash) and 3,800 litres (Spirit) with a weekly output of c 3,500 litres. There is no automation in the process.

Shane Fraser, the Master Distiller, decribes the new make as "Sweet and malty, like Weetabix with warm milk added" there is also some "Dried apricot but with a slight spice behind it, with a splash of water added it softens the aroma and I get more of a banana smell with a slightly perfumed background.”

The spirit is casked at 63.5% abv and matured in a mixture of 2nd fill American Oak Quarter casks (120 litres), 1st fill American Oak ex Bourbon casks (200 litres) and 1st and 2nd fill Spanish Oak ex Oloroso Sherry casks (500+ litres) and matured in dunnage warehouses on site.

Photo : John O'Groat Journal
Bottling also takes place on site, all of the whisky produced is non-coloured and non-chill filtered.

Photos : @Wolfburn_Whisky
Wolfburn currently bottles the:

Northland - matured in the Quarter Casks this is a fruity malty dram with a hint of peat. Bottled at 46%, priced at round £45-£50 for 700ml

Aurora - matured in the ex Bourbon and Sherry casks with is a sweet sherried nutty dram with a hint of spice. Bottled at 46%, priced at around £45-£50 for 700ml

Small Batch No. 128 (from Warehouse No.1, Stow No. 28) - matured in small 100 litre first-fill ex-bourbon casks, a lightly peated smoky dram with sweet honey. In case you don't know, I didn't, a stow is a row of casks in a dunnage warehouse!

Morven - a lightly peated whisky coming in September 2017. Bottled at 46%, priced at around £45-£50 for 700ml

Specially selected or experimental casks are also bottles as the Kylver Series.

Link to the distillery website

Link to the promo video

The distillery is open 10am - 4,30pm Mon-Fri with tours at 2pm. Weekend and holidays may be different - always a good idea to book in advance!

email :
phone : +44 1847 891 051 (note: the office is not always manned – email is the best way to reach them)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

#BlindTasting - Review

If you're reading this post you must have read my previous posts on our recent Series of #BlindTasting sessions Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 where @jwbassman_, @SpiritAndWood, @GentlemanGrimm and @WhiskyWings swapped some samples and blind tasted them!

We had three brilliant evenings, drinking lots of whisky and more importantly sharing lots of laughs! This post gives an overview of the 15 whiskies we tried with some geeky stats and some final thoughts!

Strength wise all but 3 were over the standard 40%

Region wise we tested more from Speyside, and there were 3 blends

After the final session I asked the guys to vote for their top 3 for the three sessions, in each case first got 3pts, second got 2pts and third got 1pt. There wasn't a bad whisky amongst them!

So overall there was only 1 dram which made it into all our top threes and it came out top overall - the fantastic Glengoyne Teapot!

A number of surprising stats:
  • We tasted 3 blends but none of us identified them as such until a few clues had been given!
  • A blend came out joint second in our ratings!
  • There was only one dram which appeared in all of our top threes!
  • None of the drams were bad, even the Haig Clubman! I think a lot can be said marketing and word of mouth putting you off a whisky which if you blind tasted you might like!
  • We had a laugh and loads of fun!

If you want to organise your own #BlindTasting, here's some hints!

Once again many many thanks to @jwbassman_, @SpiritAndWood, @GentlemanGrimm and @WhiskyWings for joining in what was a complete unknown and you for reading the blog!

Friday, 28 July 2017

The blind leading the blind #BlindTasting Pt3

Following on from our two successful #BlindTasting sessions over the last month we followed up with Part 3!

In case you missed the idea was very simple, the five of us would each bottle up five sets of three identical samples of our own whiskies, they didn't have to be expensive, just the ones we were drinking ourselves at the time. Then we'd post a set of three to each of the other members of the group. At £2.90 a parcel it cost us just over a tenner each and we'd each receive 12 'new' drams to try.

My samples were labelled A1, A2 & A3 @jwbassman_ had B1, B2 and B3. @SpiritAndWood had C-red, C-blue and C-green. @GentlemanGrimm had D1, D2 and D3 and finally @WhiskyWings bottled and posted E1, E2 and E3. We were all set!

Obviously apart from our own we don't know what they are so there's #NoPreconceivedIdeas we're tasting each on it's merits.

This time we'd be tasting the third set of samples we'd swapped.

Another great selection of drams with quite a range of colours and aromas!

So first up was my A3 sample - here's some of our thoughts:

We were a bit flummoxed on this one, it turned out to be Dufftown's The Singleton

Here are Gentleman Grimm's thought's on the dram!

On to the second of the evening B2 from @jwbassman_

This one needed a little water!

Then things started getting a little silly....

This one turned out to be a beautiful dram from Glenlivet - a 17yo Cask Strength edition.

Here are Gentleman Grimm's thoughts on the dram!

Third of the evening was ample C-yellow from @SpiritAndWood

We started to get somewhere with this one


This one turned out to be the Macallan Edition No. 2

Here are Gentleman Grimm's thoughts on the dram!

Next up, the fourth, was @GentlemanGrimm's D4

This turned out to be a Douglas Laing bottling of a 15yo from Speyside Distillery

Here are Gentleman Grimm's thoughts on the dram!

And so on to the final dram of the night and of this series E5 from @WhiskyWings and this one turned out to be a little decisive...!

So our final dram turned out to be Northern Harvest Rye from Crown Royal in Canada!

Here are Gentleman Grimm's thoughts on the dram!


Another fantastic evening of whisky sampling with friends - what more could you want?

Final words...