Wolfburn is a distillery which as a whisky geek and a blogger I’m following closely for it’s always exciting to track and see how a new distillery shapes itself, both on whisky and business fronts, so I knew I want to pay them a visit when I get back to Scotland and visit the northern highlands region.
The staff at the distillery are very friendly. They happily booked the visit and even endured us being late for a hour. After all, it was that ‘late-late-late’ day and I had troubles locating the distillery as it’s not your average looking distillery. They are located in a set of hangers in an industrial park and not somewhere pretty off the road with a pagoda and lots of fields and cattle around them.
Wolfburn is a new and small distillery, producing around 115,000 liters of alcohol a year. Just wow small is it? Everything fits in a single hangar!
Everything is new and shiny even after 2.5 years of production. We were warmly welcomed and were guided through the distillery, were given time to check everything and with lots of patience while taking pictures (I like that ‘feature’ in tours!).
As we were late, we arrived just when the end of day activities started, with the staff preparing for the next day distillation cycle. That gave us the opportunity to see the innards of the still, showing the steam coils in all their glory.
Even though Wolfburn resides in an industrial zone, it’s a small park and Wolfburn distillery are located on the skirts of the park and so when it’s too hot or too cold, climate control is activated and we see that outside it’s beatiful. (In case it wasn’t clear, Wolfburn climate control is opening or closing the shutters 🙂 )
If you had looked at the Panorama picture, you probably noticed something is missing. Right, no casks! in fact, the spirit is pumped from the hangar to the adjunct hangar which serves as a warehouse and there the casks are filled. As the warehouse is full, the full casks are then rolled to the 3rd hangar (A.K.A the second warehouse).
I wondered (worryingly) if there’s enough space in those warehouses for their future casks and they assured me that they have enough space to expand and build 2 more warehouses. In fact, they can even double the distillery capacity (doubling everything in the first hangar)!
- Fermentation time is 67 hours but sometimes it’s longer due to time constraints and weekends (when distillery isn’t working)
- Average spirit ABV from the distillation process is 69% (as the heart they cut in the distillation process starts at 74% and ends at 62%). Then it’s diluted to 63.5% before filling the casks.
- In 2014 Wolfburn started producing peated spirit. It’s a lightly peated spriit at 10 ppm and I’m so happy as love peated whisky!
- There are no plans for a visitors center in the distillery, but they will welcome visitors upon pre-arranged booking
- In January 2016, Wolfburn distillery will be 3 years old, and the initial special bottling will probably be released in February 2016. There will be 800 bottles, each one costing £175
- The annual/regular bottling will probably be shipped April/May 2016 and the plan is for 60,000 bottles a year.
Then we went back to the main hangar and proceeded into tasting a quite mature spirit and the peated new make.
Wolfburn Cask sample (Quarter cask #55, 2.5 yo, 61.3%)
Nose: Robust nose, bold and solid oily and vanilla foundation. Salty and with sweet fruits behind a very thin curtain.
Palate: Oh it’s quite spicy, vanilla, honey, oak, retaining the oily note and get salty towards the end.
Finish: Short finish with oak, vanilla and a dash of honey. The length was disappointing but it’s pretty good.
Thoughts: It’s pretty much ready for a release. Can’t wait till 2016!
What a small and lovely distillery. I’m eagerly waiting for their official bottlings!
Name: Wolfburn Distillery
Water source: Wolf Burn
Stills: 1 Wash still, 1 Spirit still
Capacity (yearly): 115,000 litres
Tour in a nutshell
Tours availability: Upon prearrangement
Cost of tour: –
Length of tour: 45min
Distillery Exclusive bottles: No.
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Hi Yoav, I assume that the first bottlings from the Quarter Casks are Ex-Bourbon and/or Virgin oak? No ex-sherry influence. (At least that’s what your tasting notes implied).
I produce a list of non sherry/wine/port influenced single malts so it’s important for me t know.
Interesting that you talk about it being peaty. At 10 ppm I would normaly not consider whisky to have a particulary peaty flavour although there will obviously be some influence. Ardmore peats their barley at around 12 to 15 ppm but I believe that they continue taking more towards the faints (which holds more peat ihttp://rebmordechaireviews.blogspot.co.il/nfluence).
Ardbeg also has a long distilling process from the middle cut onwards which is why people describe it as more peaty even though it’s 40-45 ppm than a whisky at 50 ppm or higher.
I have demonstrated this by giving a group a glass of Bruichladdich Octomore (between 167 and 200+ ppm) and a glass of Ardbeg 10 (40-45 ppm) and in every case they say that the Arbeg is more peaty.
The inaugural release will be without sherry influence. I do not know what casks will be used for the regular bottles. I can only assume it will be mostly ex-bourbon/QC.
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