Wolfburn Distillery – rediscovering Thurso’s whisky heritage

Scotland is famous for its whisky production all over the country, and Caithness has two distilleries on the North Coast 500 route, both with tours available for visitors. In early 2018 we took advantage of cut-price tour tickets at Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso.

Wolfburn has a distinctive story, with the original distillery being founded in 1821 and ceasing production well before the end of the 19th century.

The original building can still be found just a short walk from the new site which has been producing whisky for 5 years. Records show that in 1826 the distillery produced 125,000 litres of the spirit, and that it was the largest distillery in the county.  However no trace of the original whisky remains, so we can assume that the locals of Caithness were keen to drink it!

Since production recommenced in 2013, all elements of the production process take place by hand at the distillery in Thurso by the four employees of Wolfburn, which is not the norm - many distilleries are now assisted by a  computerised system. Distillery manager Shane Fraser took a lead in the design of the distillery, and deciding the processes and flavour profiles of Wolfburn.

Using the local water running from the burn just uphill, the site is a short distance from the Pentland Firth and this video gives a great insight into the local area and scenery.

My favourite part of the whisky tour is always the warehouses where the whisky is poured into casks and stored - while I'm not the biggest whisky fan, it always smells incredible in the storehouses! At Wolfburn, a combination of oak quarter casks, ex bourbon casks and ex sherry casks are used which all contribute to the flavour profiles,

A distillery tour is always a good way of learning about the spirit made on site, but what was really impressive to us was the commitment to continuing the distillery's story and reawakening the heritage of whisky from days gone by.

You can take a tour of Wolfburn - more information can be found here.