Meet the man with the job of making Northumberland's first single malt whisky

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A head distiller has been appointed to lead the creation of whisky in Wooler.

Former Sunderland distiller Ben Murphy will guide Ad Gefrin towards producing the first single malt whisky in Northumberland.

Construction work on the £10.5m project to build a visitor centre and distillery on the former Redpaths yard began last month.

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Eileen Ferguson, of Ad Gefrin said: “Ben has the perfect blend of youth, passion, spirit of exploration and dedication to his craft. What is more he has an obsession for indigenous whiskies, and certainly knows his way around a range of spirits.”

Ben Murphy, head distiller at Ad Gefrin.Ben Murphy, head distiller at Ad Gefrin.
Ben Murphy, head distiller at Ad Gefrin.

A graduate of Heriot-Watt University's Brewing and Distilling School in Edinburgh, he gained an MSc with distinction in Brewing and Distilling.

The 35-year-old’s whisky journey has taken him from the USA to Norway and, most recently, to the Poetic License Distillery in Sunderland, where he was brought in specifically to develop new products and improve and refine operations.

He said: “North Northumberland and Glendale in particular were already very special to my wife and I, and we love to visit. The people have a great warmth and the landscape is stunning.

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"Ad Gefrin’s sense of community, mixed with an absolute commitment to provenance - with barley literally on our doorstep, Cheviot water drawn from under our feet – makes this an incredible opportunity for any distiller.

Architect Richard Elphick with Chris, Eileen and Alan Ferguson at the Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.Architect Richard Elphick with Chris, Eileen and Alan Ferguson at the Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.
Architect Richard Elphick with Chris, Eileen and Alan Ferguson at the Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.

“In taking up this role, I am especially excited and keen to explore the use of modern yeasts and heritage barleys, such as those that might have been around in the Anglo-Saxon times that inspired the vision for the Ad Gefrin; but, I am totally respectful of the traditional craft of creating great whisky, which is exactly what I aim to do. The ‘terroir’ couldn’t be better, and at the end of the day, it is all about the place.”

Ad Gefrin aims to be able to begin distilling its first spirit in late spring 2022. The very first single malt Ad Gefrin whisky will be ready exactly three years and a day after the distilling has commenced.

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