No bottles or even memories of the original Wolfburn whisky remain from when the distillery last operated. From what little the records show, Wolfburn distillery was at the time one of the largest producers in the county, yet all would have been consumed within the borders of Caithness, such was the demand for ‘uisge beatha’ (‘the water of life’) by the locals. Few if any bottles made it down the rutted road or by sea to the capital’s Georgian drinking houses and if any did, none remain.
Using un-peated malt the stillmen of Wolfburn distillery today are crafting 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. A variety of casks continue to be filled with new Wolfburn spirit and are laid down in the warehouses to mature. Some will remain there for many years to come and it will be a while yet before the first bung is extracted to see what the cold air of the north shore has delivered for the next generation of Wolfburn drinkers.
First thoughts on what kind of spirit Wolfburn should be were that it should be a light and fragrant spirit. This would come about by a number of key processes; slow drainage of the mash tun to give a clear wort; long fermentations and a gentle distillation but keeping the spirit collection above 20°C.
Nosing comments read: ‘Sweet and malty, like Weetabix with warm milk added.’ These thoughts are still there with each subsequent spirit run.
It now smells of dried apricot but with a slight spice behind it. With a splash of water added it softens the aroma and you get more of a banana smell with a slightly perfumed background.”