It is difficult to find new or unique labels to introduce to our patrons seeing that the Scotch Whisky history dates back several hundred years; however, the occasional gem strikes my eye.
Tucked away at the northernmost edge of mainland Scotland lies Wolfburn Distillery, a newcomer with a rich tradition and heritage in whisky production. In 1821, Wolfburn Distillery was formed by William Smith; however it discontinued production in the mid-late 1800s. Modern production began once more in 2013, and during spring of 2016, the new whisky found its way into bottle.
Though the whisky may be new, the tradition of Wolfburn is as aged as many prominent figures leading the pack. The new distillery is located just downstream the ruins of the original. Because the high local demand for the spirit in the 1800s, no bottles exist today, so when the production began in 2013, there was no template to work from. Instead, the whisky is made as nature intended - long fermentation due to cool temperatures and a hands-on approach to distillation (none of the processes are automated).
Pale in colour, as it proudly states "natural colour" on the bottle, this whisky shows its youth. However, it is clear the distillers are not green, as there are not obvious flaws in the nose. The first impression shows a whiff of smokey peat, but it is not overbearing. Perhaps, it is rather a gentle nod to the fact the region is home to one of the largest peat bogs in the world. A mixture of fruit aromas begin to surface, from dried banana to citrus, but if you explore the prior, you can easily fade into beautiful floral notes with a touch of light tea.
The palate is saltier than the nose suggests, but it is balanced among its elements. There is sweetness from both fruit, honey and vanilla, though it is not cloying. A sudden edge of spice is enhanced by a bite of alcohol, but it slowly relaxes into smoke and malt. A second sip with some dilution presents more of the smokey malt character, but it still retains great length.
As a young whisky, this brand shows great maturity. There are two other current releases, hopefully with more on the way. You can look forward to a great contribution from this northerly distillery.