I’ve been writing a lot about whisky lately and right now my office is scattered with 30ml miniature bottles of golden booze. Lots of Scottish whisky, Japanese whisky and all kinds of American bourbons and ryes, along with miniatures from more unlikely countries such as France and South Africa. I’m pretty good at avoiding the temptation to sip my way through them while working during the day, although the current cold snap is pushing that temptation to the limit.
As I write it’s approaching 5pm and the heater under my desk is failing to fight off the chill, so I’m shivering. I reckon right now is a perfectly acceptable time to twist off a whisky bottle seal and take a warming swig, so I’m diving in to a dram that I’ve previously overlooked to consider how it shapes up against the global gathering of spirits around me.
Introducing Wolfburn Distillery
The Wolfburn Distillery is located in Thurso, the most northerly town on British mainland. The current distillery began life in 2012, but Wolfburn whisky first emerged from the same site in 1821 and kept going for around 20 to 30 years before closing down. After 150 years the first new whisky was released in 2016, reviving Wolfburn and putting to good use the local supply of natural water from where it gets its name (‘burn’ means ‘stream’ or ‘small river’). Aurora is a single malt whisky created from a combination of bourbon and sherry casks and is the first of the distillery’s output that I’m getting my chops around.
Wolfburn Aurora, 46%: Tasting Notes
Of the small clutch of bottles that Wolfburn Aurora sits among, it is by far the lightest. A bright straw colour that would probably twinkle beautifully in the sunlight if the sunlight ever managed to enter my office on a grey winter day. On the nose the straw freshens, becoming meadow-like and there’s lots of sweet sherry too: it smells clean, light and immediately approachable.
That sherry sweetness has a sticky honey coating to it and is the first thing that hits the palate. With a 46%, young looking whisky that has some bourbon cask ageing behind it, I might’ve expected more of an immediate hit of alcohol, and maybe even some rough edges, but the sweetness neatly smooths everything out so when the nuttier, spicier flavours do come through they’re perfectly balanced with the overall lightness of the whisky. Vanilla flavours are evident throughout, marrying well with the upfront sweetness, accentuating some almond notes in the middle and drying out a touch at the finish to lend the whisky warmth I was looking for.
As a 5pm whisky, Aurora has hit the spot: it’s delicate, easy to drink, sweetly delicious and gently warming. The heavier hitting whisky miniatures will be steadily consumed in front of the fire during cold evenings but the half-dram-bottle of Aurora I’m left with stays on the office desk – I’m sure it will come in handy the next time the heater fails to do its job.
Wolfburn Aurora is available from Master of Malt, £48.80 for a 700ml bottle