Isle of Man-based Fynoderee Distillery has named Berle Figgins Jnr as master distiller and distillery manager to help develop the site’s inaugural whisky.
Figgins will head up distillery operations for the site and will relocate to the Isle of Man this month, following his departure from Washington-based whisky and brandy producer XO Alambic.
At The Fynoderee Distillery, Figgins will play an “active role” in the site’s new public tours. He will also continue the distillery’s tradition of gin production.
“This appointment represents a fabulous opportunity, putting the ‘icing on the cake’ of my professional life,” said Figgins. “Joining a stellar gin producer in its next chapter and leading their entry into Manx malt whisky production is at once ground-breaking and exciting.
“As a proud practitioner of the craft, it has long been an aspiration to go where no one has gone before, as the distinctive barley grown on the Isle of Man begs to be crafted into malt whisky.”
The appointment of Figgins coincides with the opening of the distillery’s second site in Ramsey, Isle of Man.
The Fynoderee Distillery’s CEO, Paul Kerruish, said: “It feels like the stars are aligning for Fynoderee. Rusty’s desire to relocate to the Island just as Fynoderee is gearing up and expanding is serendipitous timing at its best.
“Together we share a kindred spirit for innovative and high-quality premium spirits, and we cannot wait to welcome Rusty and his family to the Isle of Man to take the Fynoderee story into its next exciting chapter.”
Career to date
Figgins is from the Washington-based family behind the Leonetti, Figgins and Toil Oregon wine estates. His career began in viticulture and oenology and his travels saw him make wine in France at Château Palmer, Australia and across Washington.
Figgins was a founder of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission and created Scythe & Sheaf single malt whisky. He is also a graduate of London’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling.
In 2008, Figgins co-founded The Ellensburg Distillery, which claims to be the first site in Washington to make rye and malt whiskies, brandy and gin. During his time at the distillery, he invented the Figgins Reciprocator distillation system, a pot and column hybrid still. Ten of these stills are in use at distilleries across North America.
The 11th unit, currently under construction, is said to be an “ultra-spec” model intended for The Fynoderee Distillery this autumn. At the new distillery, the 2,000-litre Figgins Reciprocator still will sit alongside a 2,000-litre Next Gen still and a range of copper pot alembics.