Wolfburn Distillery was a legend in the 19th century in Scotland. It was located in Thurso, Caithness, as the northernmost distillery in mainland Scotland. Wolfburn was founded in 1821 by William Smith. Water source was from Wolf Burn. "Burn" in Scotland means stream or river and this was reason why the distillery was named Wolfburn. The annual production according to tax record was around 125,000 litres in 1826. However the distillery production ceased suddenly in around 1850s without known reasons and there was no record of the exact closing day. The distillery was marked as a ruin in 1872 in the first Ordnance Survey Map.
The location of the distillery (Thurso), Source: Google Map
In 2011, the owners of Wolfburn travelled to Thurso to find the old distillery and planned to have the Wolfburn Distillery reborn. In 2012 the owners got the permission from authorities to rebuild the distillery and it was located at 350m from the ruins of the original distillery. The production commerced in 2013.
Speaking of the production facilities, Wolfburn has one wash still and one spirit still with capacity of 5,500 litres and 3,800 litres respectively. Wolfburn retained old way of production- long fermentation and slow gentle distillation. The fermentation time is longer than that of normal distilleries (up to 72hrs) to release the fruity and floral characters that can be carried to the finished product as a delicate whisky. The spirits are matured in combination of second fill American oak quarter casks, first fill American oak ex bourbon casks and first and second fill Spanish oak ex sherry casks cask.
The first batch of the Wolfburn whisky was bottled in early 2016 and available globally in March. It was the first production after 150 years since the unknown ceasing. A limited quantity of 62,000 bottles were produced for this 3 years old whisky. They had an Inaugural Special Edition bottling released at the same time. The limited 875 bottles were crafted from the very first casks from the distillery. The first batch production is now renamed as Northland in the signature range with American oak quarter cask maturation. Apart from Northland, Wolfburn has just released the second whisky in the signature range with a vatting of 20% Spanish Oloroso sherry cask into American oak named Aurora.
Wolfburn Single Malt Whisky (Northland), First Batch Production, 46%, American oak quarter cask, limited to 62,000 bottles
Picture source: Amathus UK website (www.amathusdrinks.com)
Appearance: Straw yellow-green
Aroma: First comes with lots of greens and mild sweetness: green apple, pear, mix of lime & citrus zest with a hint of grass and a touch of green bell pepper. Then some senses of youth in malt, dry hay, hint of yeast and hint of savoury. There are a touch of white pepper & black pepper mixture at the back of the nose. Very clean whisky that you can feel the freshness and youth.
Palate: Medium body, fruity and malty with lots of peppers first hitting. Green apple, pear, citrus, half-ripe green plums and white currants, hint of honey water, and a touch of grass, malt and lemon zest. Pretty zesty and chewy. There is quite a warm alcohol feeling in throat and mouth yet the body is fuller and rounder than expected.
Aftertaste: Medium(-) to medium length. Still with fruit driven of lemon zest, green apple, half-ripe white currants, a touch of malt and grass
Conclusion: Apparantly, the nose of this whisky is very young but palate has gained lots of points. It doesn't taste like only a 3yo whisky but much older like 5,6yo. I personally like a lot more the palate than aroma as the aroma has some grassy characters of Lowland whiskies despite it is from highland, probably because of its young age. Of course tasting a new and young whisky should "judge" with the system of young whisky. The nose of this whisky does remind me of a new make and would be really interested to taste the Wolfburn new make one day to feel the 'evolution' of the spirit.
However it has a lot of potential as a 3yo whisky. You can find a lot of characters in the drink with the complexity, pureness and freshness. The most surprised me is the texture of the body with the round and oily feeling at only 3 years old. I would to know and see how does it taste when it is getting older. Really looking forward to see the future launches of this reborn distillery!
Special thanks for my Danish friend Thomas for the sample! :) -81points