Original Brora stills sent to coppersmiths for refurbishment
Diageo has begun work to restore the copper pot stills at its famed Brora Distillery, which has lain silent since 1983.
Plans to reopen the Highland distillery were announced last year, with planning permission for the development of the site granted last month.
The latest step in Brora’s redevelopment has seen its copper pot stills removed and transported to Diageo’s Abercrombie coppersmiths in Alloa, Scotland, where they will be fully restored.
The stills have been surveyed using ultrasonic technology and were found to be in good condition, but require refurbishment to prepare them to return to full-time distillation.
Senior chargehand coppersmith Jim McEwan said: “Abercrombie coppersmiths last worked on these very same stills in the early 1980s before the distillery closed its doors, so it’s a great privilege for us to work on them now and to get them ready to produce spirit again.
“They are beautiful stills and they are actually in really good condition, but after 35 years of rest they do need a bit of loving care to get them ready to distill again. It will be a real pleasure to work on these stills.”
The restoration of Brora Distillery is part of a £35 million investment programme that will also see Diageo reopen Port Ellen Distillery on Islay.
Stewart Bowman, Brora Distillery project implementation manager, said: “This is another important milestone in our journey to bring Brora Distillery back to life.
“Work is now well underway to meticulously restore the distillery buildings back to their former glory, and it is quite an emotional moment to see the stills beginning their journey back to full-time spirit production.”
Construction workers will first dismantle the distillery’s still house before it will be rebuilt stone-by-stone so that it retains its character but is structurally sound.
Diageo plans to reopen the distillery by 2020 with capacity to produce 800,000 litres a year, making it one of the group’s smallest distilleries.