The Caithness Way No. 17 – Wolfburn Whisky

The final in our The Caithness Way series for 2018 is another fabulous distillery in Caithness – Wolfburn Whisky, the most northerly ‘whisky’ distillery on the mainland!  We pip them to the post as the most northerly distillery on the mainland 😉

Can you tell me a little about your business? 

Wolfburn is the most northerly whisky distillery on the Scottish mainland. The original distillery was founded in 1821 but it fell into ruin in the 1870s – nobody is sure exactly why; the story is lost in the mists of time. The new Wolfburn distillery was built just a few hundred yards from the site of the old one, and we draw our water from the same source: the Wolf Burn (from where the distillery gets its name).

What inspired you to start-up your business? 

A passion for single malt Scotch whisky, and (we hope) a good business opportunity!

Has anything unusual or surprising happened while you’ve been in business? 

Lots – but perhaps the best is the camaraderie we’ve experienced from other local businesses, and other whisky distilleries across Scotland.

What makes your business special? 

The people who run it. Our aim is simply to produce the best possible single malt Scotch whisky, and to put a smile on people’s faces when they try it. We’ve been very lucky in that the team of craftsmen at Wolfburn are absolutely fantastic and they love what they do. I think that comes across in the character of our whisky.

What are the highlights of being a business based in Caithness? 

Without a doubt the best bit is the support we receive from local people. The magical scenery in the area is also hugely uplifting, and of course it’s great to be situated on the North Coast 500 route as well.

Describe your business or product in 3 words? 

Beautiful, easy-drinking whisky.

What makes Caithness special to you? 

The enormous sense of history, and the wonderful wide-open spaces. It’s unlike anywhere else in the UK.

What, to you, is the Caithness Way? 

It’s an extension of the camaraderie and support mentioned earlier, in which local businesses and folk look out for one another.  It’s uniquely Caithness!

What is a normal day to you? 

Up at 5am, a quick cuppa then into the distillery to get the boiler on and the first mash of the day started.  I’ve always been an early bird and I like to get a head start on the rest of the team – though in fairness they’re usually all onboard by 6.30 in any case.  I’ll usually hand over the mash to one of the apprentices and crack some emails before heading over to the warehouses to select casks for the week’s bottling.  Around 10am the bottling staff will arrive and we need to ensure that the vatting tanks are full and all systems ready to go before they arriv

e.  After lunch we’ll crack the second production run.  I’ll usually run the stills myself for an hour or two, then show visitors around the distillery during the afternoon – we have a daily tour each weekday at 2pm, and during the summer months especially the place is very busy with visitors, which is great to see.  I try to finish by 5pm and head home – and if I’m lucky I’ll catch some football on the TV of an evening.  And that’s my day!

Where is your favourite place in Caithness and why? 

Dunnet Beach – miles and miles of wide open space, where I can walk my dogs without anyone bothering me!

Does Caithness inspire your business? 

Not really with ingredients, as we are very traditional in the way we make our whisky, which means there isn’t much leeway to change!  But operating in the region gives us a bit of an edge – Wolfburn is the only whisky distillery on the north coast, and the freedom of expression we have up here is lovely.

Share any exciting news you have for us! 

Keep your eyes peeled for a great new expression from Wolfburn this September.  It’s called ‘Langskip’, which means ‘longship’ in Norse. It’s cask-strength, bottled at 58% ABV, and it’s a truly sumptuous dram – smooth and sweet.  I’m hugely proud of it.