After a global search, Isle of Man craft spirit producer, The Fynoderee Distillery, is proud to announce the appointment of Berle ‘Rusty’ Figgins Jnr. as Master Distiller/Distillery Manager to lead its distillery operations. Rusty will continue with the distillery’s tradition of gin production and take forward an aged spirits programme including the development of the distillery’s expansion into Manx single-malt whisky.
Rusty’s arrival will coincide with the opening of the distillery’s new premises in Ramsey, 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.
Rusty will be relocating with his family to the Isle of Man this September subsequent to his imminent departure from XO Alambic (a multiple award-winning producer of whisky and brandy in Walla Walla, Washington USA).
Hailing from the prominent Washington wine-producing family behind Leonetti, Figgins and Toil Oregon wine estates, Rusty launched his career in viticulture and oenology, during which he travelled extensively, making wine in France (Château Palmer), Australia (whilst attending university) and all across Washington State. In 2008, Rusty finally acted on a long-held passion for craft distilling, becoming a founding signatory of the American Single Malt Whisky Commission and winning notable accolades for his own Scythe & Sheaf single malt whisky.
In 2008, Rusty co-founded The Ellensburg Distillery, the first in Washington to craft rye and malt whiskies, fine brandy and gin. During this period, he employed his technical and engineering expertise to invent the innovative Figgins Reciprocator distillation system, a pot-and-column hybrid still. Ten of these stills are now in use at commercial distilleries across North America. The eleventh unit, currently under construction, is an “ultra-spec” model destined for The Fynoderee Distillery this autumn.
Rusty is an exuberant and passionate educator on all aspects of craft distillation, and for the past ten years has administered an educational programme for aspiring craft distillers from his distillery classroom. A graduate (with distinction) of London’s Institute of Brewing & Distilling, he is looking forward to developing the skills of the growing team at The Fynoderee Distillery, as well as playing an active role in Fynoderee’s new public tours offering.
Of his decision to join the Fynoderee team, he said,
“This appointment represents a fabulous opportunity, putting the ‘icing on the cake’ of my professional life. Joining a stellar gin producer in its next chapter and leading their entry into Manx malt whisky production is at once groundbreaking 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.”
Fynoderee CEO Paul Kerruish told B365: “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.”