Thus post, the latest in my series about my Scottish holiday (May 28 to June 5), covers a visit to the Wolf Burn distillery and my cooking of the subsequent evening meal.
THE WOLF BURN DISTILLERY
In it’s current incarnation, using a couple of warehouse buildings just outside Thurso this distillery is a mere eight years old, though many years ago there was another distillery of the same name. The name comes from a local river, the Wolf Burn (a burn in Scotland is a small river – probably the best known to the world at large under this designation is the Swilcan Burn which crosses St Andrew’s golf course).
The tour began with an explanation of how the malt is prepared before the distillation process can even start, before describing the latter. Incidentally if anyone ever tells you that a peaty element in a whisky comes from the water they are fibbing (as the guy at Talisker on the Isle of Skye did when I visited their establishment) – that flavour element is created by the malt being smoked by burning peat.
The other major contributor to the final flavour of a whisky is the type of cask in which it is matured – this distillery uses casks that have previously been used for Sherry, Madeira, Bourbon and others, and each has its own influence on the final flavour of the product.
The casks are stored up to three high and no higher – heat rises and one does not want the product to overheat while it is maturing.
The experience ended with a sampling of the products. This started with something called Aurora which had been matured in sherry casks and which I found overly sweet and not very much like a whisky. Second up was Northland, matured in American Oak quarter casks. This was preferable to the first. The third sample was an unscheduled bonus, and was decent but not great. The Langskip was is the strongest of their products, 58% alcohol, but for me it was outdone by the final product, the Morven, of which I purchased a bottle to go with the free glass we were each given as souvenirs.
I enjoyed this visit and hope that things go well for the distillery.
VARIATIONS ON A FAMILIAR THEME
That evening I cooked the main meal, doing my chicken and coriander concoction. There were a few tweaks by necessity: the house had no blender, so I created the ginger paste by grating ginger into a cup, adding a bit of water and using the plastic handle of a chopping knife as a mixer. I also had to assess quantities of ground cumin and ground coriander by eye as there were no measuring spoons. Also none of the pans were non-stick, which meant that the chicken needed careful attention while it was cooking. However, the only thing I had come up short on in the early stages of the cooking was the salt, quite a lot of which I had to add at the last checkpoint to generate sufficient flavour. In the event the meal was good and every scrap of it got eaten, though the flavour was not quite up to my usual standards. Given the circumstances however I am pleased with the result.
Here are some photos from the distillery…