Two of the north’s rejuvenated whisky brands are celebrating a successful end to 2016.
During its first year of single malt sales since re-opening in 2013, Wolfburn Distillery, near Thurso, laid down a record amount of whisky for future customers.
Situated yards from the original Wolfburn site, which was founded in 1821, the new facility recently reached its annual production target.
Distillery manager Shane Fraser said 2016 had been “an incredible year.”
He added: “We increased our workforce by taking on two apprentices and we commissioned a fourth fermentation vessel.
“Combined, this means we have been able to increase our rate of production while maintaining excellent quality control.”
The distillery had a production target this year of just under 28,600 gallons of alcohol, equivalent to around 400,000 bottles of whisky. It was reached during the first week of December, leaving time for equipment maintenance before the Christmas shut-down.
“We filled a record 1,162 casks during 2016,” added Mr Fraser.
“The volume is great, of course, but equally important is that we have consistently managed to acquire really top-notch casks. Maintaining quality is the key to producing first-class whisky, and we have managed to do this very well throughout the whole year.
“We’re going to need these increased production levels to keep up with demand. Producing this volume now ensures we will have great quality single malt scotch to sell in years to come.”
The Benromach Distillery Company Ltd, based in Forres, is also celebrating after picking up two awards.
Benromach 35 Years Old single malt has won a Spirits Masters award, while the distillery’s manager Keith Cruickshank was named Distillery Manager of the Year at the Icons of Whisky 2017 awards.
The Spirits Masters judging panel was impressed with the design of the single malt laid down to mature in the 1980s.
The distillery worked with Edinburgh design agency,Stuff Creative to create the packaging. The decanter-style bottle is encased within a wooden presentation box, reflecting the various elements that went into making the whisky; the copper stills, the dark, grained wood of the original washbacks, and the white of the limewashed distillery walls.
Mr Cruickshank, said: “Benromach continues to go from strength to strength and we’re delighted to finish 2016 on a high with a fantastic accolade from the Spirits Masters.
“I am also extremely honoured to have been awarded Scotch Distillery Manager of the Year from Icons of Whisky – I love my job and to be recognised by the industry is a real privilege.
“We have some exciting plans for 2017 so here’s hoping we can continue our success next year.”
Originally built in 1898, Benromach Distillery was brought back to life when leading whisky specialists Gordon & MacPhail, of Elgin, purchased it in 1993.
The distillery’s owners recently announced plans to increase production there by around a third next year.