Figgins will continue with the distillery’s gin production and take forward an aged spirits programme, including the development of Fynoderee’s expansion into Manx single-malt whisky.
Figgins has joined from XO Alambic, a whisky and brandy producer in Walla Walla, Washington and comes from the wine-producing family behind Leonetti, Figgins and Toil Oregon wine estates.
“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 American began his career in viticulture and oenology, making wine in France with Château Palmer, Australia and across Washington State.
In 2008 Figgins moved into craft distilling, becoming a founding signatory of the American Single Malt Whisky Commission.
That same year he co-founded The Ellensburg Distillery, the first in Washington to produce rye and malt whiskies, brandy and gin. Figgins has also invented his own hybrid pot-and-column still called the Figgins Reciprocator.
Ten of these stills are now in use at commercial distilleries across North America. The 11th unit, currently under construction, is an ‘ultra-spec’ model designed for The Fynoderee Distillery this autumn.
Figgins’ arrival will coincide with the opening of the distillery’s new premises in Ramsey, the island’s second largest town, where a 2,000-litre Figgins Reciprocator still will sit alongside a 2,000-litre Next Gen iStill and a range of copper-pot alembics.
Fynoderee CEO Paul Kerruish added: “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.”
Fynoderee was founded in 2017 by local Manx couple Paul and Tiffany Kerruish and to date the distillery has focused on gin and vodka production.
The name Fynoderee comes from an ancient Manx folklore tale, based in the north of the Isle of Man in a region where the last Manx juniper tree was reputed to grow and where juniper is now being re-introduced.