Northumberland distillery releases first whisky blend ahead of opening next year

Northumberland’s newest museum and first whisky distillery has announced the launch of its inaugural spirit.

Ad Gefrin, which is due to open in February 2023, has already been named one of the world’s most anticipated museum openings and it is hoped will give the town of Wooler a “significant” tourism boost. The museum will showcase the court of the Northumbrian kings and queens who drew people from all over the world to visit their summer palace in nearby Yeavering.

And ahead of next year’s much-anticipated opening, its first blended whisky has been launched – though it will be some time before the single malt follows. Tácnbora, meaning ‘Standard Bearer’ in Old English, is a combination of Scottish and Irish whiskies and aims to reflect a brand built on ancient hospitality and bringing everyone together.

The Venerable Bede recorded that King Edwin was always preceded by a standard bearer carrying a standard with a goat’s head effigy. The goat’s head is now central to Ad Gefrin’s brand marque.

Discussing the notes of Ad Gefrin’s first whisky, Ben Murphy, director of distilling, said: “The Tácnbora whisky blend features Scottish and Irish whiskies, reflecting two of the peoples that would have made up the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria (Scottish, Irish, English, and Scandinavian). Tácnbora is made with a mix of malt and grain and finished in Northumberland in Virgin American oak and oloroso casks, creating a distinctive and palatable spirit.

food, northumberland distillery releases first whisky blend ahead of opening next year

Ad Gefrin’s Tácnbora

“On the nose, it has notes of honey, vanilla, candied citrus peel and spices, backed up on the palate with the flavours of sultanas, cream soda and nutmeg. The finish lingers and coats the mouth with the tastes of honey, vanilla and sweet citrus.”

The other nationalities will feature in future editions and all four will make up Ad Gefrin’s exclusive blend for their Corenkyn (meaning “Chosen Family” in Old English) founding members. However, the distillery’s single malt won’t arrive until 2025 – at the very earliest.

This is because legally, whisky must be aged in a wooded cask for at least three years before it can be called as such. Along with Ben Murphy, Ad Gefrin’s distilling team includes Canadian Craig Stock, who has experience from Durham Distillery; and Germano Molinari, of Sambucca heritage; while former President of the Malt Distillers Association of Scotland Alan Rutherford is on board in a non-executive position.

food, northumberland distillery releases first whisky blend ahead of opening next year

Ad Gefrin’s distillers group: Germano Molinari, Ben Murphy and Craig Stock

The launch of Tácnbora follows on from an announcement that the museum has secured several loans of “treasures” from Anglo Saxon times. In September, the museum announced that the Castle Eden claw beaker and a replica of Frank’s Casket from the British Museum would be coming to the North East, as well as a shield boss on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Tácnbora is available to purchase online at £42.50 for a 70cl bottle. For more information on Ad Gefrin and Tácnbora, visit the website.

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