Wolfburn | The past
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The past

Origins of the Distillery

In 1821 William Smith founded a distillery on the outskirts of Thurso and named it Wolfburn after the watercourse it drew from, “burn” being the Scots word for stream or small river.

 

The distillery was constructed from hardy local Caithness flagstone and the remains of its foundations can still be seen today. Smith invested heavily in Wolfburn and it quickly became a significant producer of malt whisky – tax records from the early 19th Century show it being the largest distillery in Caithness.  In 1826 its annual production was 28,056 “Total Gallons of Proof Spirt” – roughly 125,000 litres.

 

The new Wolfburn distillery building is just a short walk along the burn from the old site towards the sea.

Lost in Time

Wolfburn distillery was kept in the Smith family until at least the 1850s, when production seems to have ceased.  The exact date of its closing is lost in time, with some records indicating that it may still have been producing whisky in the 1860s.  In 1872 the first Ordnance Survey map of the region was published and this showed the distillery to be in ruin, yet in 1877 when the next edition of the map was released the words ‘in ruins’ had been removed.  It may be that the distillery worked intermittently towards the end of its past life.