Some people never fulfil a dream, others wait a lifetime for everything to be right before they take the plunge. Luckily, the New World of Whisky is filled with stories of pursuing a dream and our next founder did it exactly that. Max, for many years, had wanted to make a whisky that captured the provenance of Derbyshire, and a collection of events allowed many small steps to be taken towards the distillery dream becoming a reality. Since their first Wire Works whisky was released in 2022, there has been a great response, with further releases and awards there after…
MAKING SPIRITS THE PROPER WAY
Back in 2016, there was a striking absence of all the things required for a distillery; no premises, partners, staff, permits, insufficient experience and a lack of funding. Yet, amidst these humble beginnings, Max had a dream that had been nurtured over the years, of crafting whisky in the heart of his beloved Derbyshire. Fortune smiled upon him as he crossed paths with several investors who wholeheartedly embraced his vision, and serendipity brought two exceptional distillers into his life. These pivotal moments allowed Max to cement his plans and move his past aspirations, his dreams, his passion into future possibilities.
The question of where, was never in doubt, as it was always to be amidst the breath-taking landscapes of Derbyshire and the Peak District where they would find a home for their endeavour. A stroke of serendipity early on, meant they found the former Johnson & Nephew Wire Works (hence the name of the whisky) at Ambergate, near Belper. Nestled alongside a meandering river within an ancient woodland, a site steeped in a storied past and is so extraordinary that it is a World Heritage Site.
White Peak Distillery stands proudly as the first full-scale craft distillery in Derbyshire, dedicated to the art of creating acclaimed whisky, gin and rum that exemplify the regions rich heritage. In their relentless pursuit of flavour, they delve into every intricate facet of the whisky-making process, carefully selecting local brewer’s yeast, mixing with water from the river Derwent and intertwining with an exceptionally long fermentation period. They use Copper Pot Stills that were meticulously handcrafted to exact specifications that bring forth an alchemy and yields a new make of exceptional quality, brimming with character.
They acknowledge the importance of the casks used and choose those from family-owned businesses, where fostering meaningful relationships is paramount. To ensure the provenance of Derbyshire can impart a truly unique character on to their spirits, all their whiskies are distilled and matured on site.
Max - Inspired by a lifelong love for whisky passed down from his father, Max embarked on a mission to create a distillery that would craft genuine English whisky while providing a haven to honour the art of distillation. After seven years of dedicated effort, the distillery has flourished, the inaugural whisky has reached maturity and the team continues to grow.
When it comes to Max’s preferred White Peak drink, Wire Works Whisky takes centre stage; served neat without any ice to enjoy the full-bodied essence of the whisky.
Claire - Whilst retraining as an interior designer, following 20-years as a teacher, she was also nurturing a passion for whisky. From the very beginning, Claire has been an integral part of the Distillery, immersing herself alongside Max, as they forged ahead with their ambitious vision. Claire takes charge of curating the White Peak brand, overseeing package design, and crafting exceptional visitor experiences, among a myriad of other responsibilities that come with running a thriving start-up enterprise. Her favourite White Peak spirit is Wire Works Whisky.
The Wire Works
The Distillery is helping to breathe new life into the Victorian Wire Works that was operational for over 120 years, before closing down in 1996, and was responsible for producing the suspension cables for the Humber Bridge, along with many power cables for train and tram lines and barbed wire fencing. The distillery currently occupies the old maintenance shed and the old site provides plenty of space, which the distillery is gradually expanding in to as their production grows and the need for cask storage increases.
The Malt - They wanted to create a whisky that could offer an introduction to peat for those who don’t normally drink it, whist offering enough for those who already have a love for peat. To achieve this, they blend a combination of non-peated and heavily peated English Barley. By exacting the quantities, they are able to achieve a phenol level of 8ppm (parts per million), which provides a subtle undertone and compliments the other flavours created.
The Yeast - They use two different types of yeast, a traditional distiller’s yeast and a spent brewer’s yeast that is used to make a local IPA, which again brings more fruity flavours to the forefront of their spirit.
Fermenting - Whist the industry standard is around 4-days, at which point the sugars have been converted into alcohol, the team have stretched their fermentation time out to 6-days. This utilises secondary fermentation, which encourages wild yeast and bacteria into the process and helps provide for more of the fruiter esters they want for their whisky.
Distillation - Twin Copper Pot stills, made to their own specifications by Macmillan, are used, with a 3000-litre wash still and a 2100-litre spirit still. Shell and Tube condensers are used that take water from the Derwent to help cool the spirit, which was something that was previously done at the Wire Works to cool the cables after production. Also, a slight incline on the Lyne Arm works the spirit harder to help produce a lighter profile.
Maturation - The house style is a vatting of two cask types; STR casks with all American oak and some with French oak heads to help capture more spice, and ex-bourbon American oak barrels. They currently use about 70% STR for their whisky, as they provide more flavour at a younger age, but this will probably be reduced as the bourbon ages and grows in strength.
Their full-size bottles are beautifully crafted with the lid showing a cross-sectional view of a cable, as if you had chopped it and were looking down the strands. The strands of wire then untangle as they move down towards the bottom of the bottle, which signifies the importance of the distilleries surroundings and helps capture part of the story.
This was the house brand of wiring produced by the old Wire Works, being used for train and tram lines for many years. The distillery decided to take on this name for their latest release, which is a representation of the house style of whisky they are trying to create.
The Whisky - A Focus on Flavour and Provenance!
Every stage of the whisky process has been considered to ensure they respect tradition but put their own Derbyshire marker on the whisky. This approach has led to a complex and well-balanced whisky that is lightly peated, with notes of fruit, bonfire toffees and sweet vanilla, with a rich mouth feel and long finish.
Caduro - Is an award-winning, limited-Edition that is meticulously aged in a harmonious fusion of American and French oak casks. Comprising of first fill ex-bourbon and their distinctive STR casks, which contribute to the distinct character of this exceptional whisky. The calculated proportions of STR to French oak imparts an additional layer of luscious fruitiness and heightened intensity to the subtly peated essence.
Our members will be enjoying 100ml of the award-winning Wire Works Caduro in June, which we feel There will also be a live tasting with one of the Founders plus some delicious serving and pairing suggestions…
Join us now on The Journey for your chance to enjoy 100ml of these wonderful whiskies from under £17.50 per month, or head to The Shop if you would prefer to buy a single 100ml or full-size bottle.