While looking through some photos shared on our Clan Sinclair page recently, there was a photo from an inn that had a bottle of Wolfburn whisky. The bottle read “Wolfburn Distillery, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland”. Could there really be another “family” whisky I’ve never heard about?
Being in the U.S., it’s understandable that we don’t have access to every bottle produced in Scotland. Not even close. I never imagined I could find a bottle all the way here in Texas. To my surprise, I started finding bottles around, and asked my friend Stuart who was raised in Thurso if he’d heard of the distillery. He hadn’t. And for fairly good reason.
Wolfburn Distillery was originally in Thurso, and was the Northern-most distillery on the Scottish Mainland in 1821. They were only in successful business for a few decades. Afterward the distillery was closed and fell into ruin. In 2013 they lit the fires again under the direction of Mr. Shane Fraser. Today you’ll find his signature on each bottle.
Like a number of guys who like great whisky, and cling to the idea of only concerning themselves with age statements, I found myself intrigued by the idea that a 3 YO dram could garner so much notice. “Could this stuff really be this good?”. Yep. Wow. I stand corrected.
There’s plenty of science already posted on liquid volume versus surface area in cask aging towards maturity so I’ll leave those to you to find.
What Wolfburn offers in each bottle is a real taste of Scotland without modern artifice. You’ll find no caramel coloring and none of their three bottlings I have seen offered here are chill filtered. That means none of the goodness is stripped away in processing before bottling.
Under a nicely done thick wooden cap and cork, you’ll find a real taste of the north. My bottle of Morven, which is lightly peated, pours a very pale straw color. With a turn of the glass, legs hang long then fat tears slide down the glass. Upon nosing, I get sweet smoke. Pardon my making comparison, but not the kind of medicinal smoke you get from, say….Laphroaig (which I cannae drink). This smoke is a bit unique. To me it’s a combination of what I like in an Islay whisky like Lagavulin, or the Highland/ Islands whisky from Highland Park, just not near as intense.
Wolfburn's smoke is its own.
I’d wager Morven area peat is more akin to Orkney peat having more Heather flowers in it. The smoke is so nice….. After the smoke, you’ll get sweeter honey and vanilla notes plus oakiness from the casks.
Very smooth on the tongue! Dried fruits, malty, smoky, a tad bit sweet but with a dry finish. The dry finish is interesting to me too…..as it begs the next sip. The smoke lasts. So nice.
I’ll admit a guilty pleasure with whisky. I’m fond of not rinsing glasses immediately after finishing. I like to go back 30 minutes or so later to nose the glass again, enjoying and sharing what aromas are left with the angels.
One look at both of my parents family trees and you’ll see 99% of every Highland and Scottish clan and family represented there, and there are plenty of distilleries left on old clan lands. I'm really chuffed this one has reopened! Hopefully the angels are sharing their bit with my ancestors long since past. Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle to share with your friends. You’ll be as addicted to the next sip as I am.