The stills have now been silent for a few days as we wind down towards our Christmas break. Production may have stopped, but the Laddieshop is still open please check out here for opening times during the holiday season.
We are going to have to take an extended break from distillation now because our dearly beloved mash tun has reached a critical point in its life and needs some TLC.
This wonderful old open-topped vat dates back to 1881 so it is the same age as the distillery. It contributes so much to the character of Bruichladdich. The fact that you can see, and smell and indeed feel the mash throughout the distillery is fundamental to who we are. We know that it is rather inefficient, and dreadfully slow, but we don't care. Our mash tun is sacrosanct.
However, it has been working hard. Those of you who have visited us will know that the essential stirring gear that carries the rakes revolves around a central spindle and is supported round the circumference of the tun by a toothed outer rack. A brass cog runs on this outer rack as the whole mechanism revolves round and round. Sadly, the rack and the cogs are now worn beyond repair.
Not such a huge deal you might think. Why can't we simply replace the mechanism? Well, we could, by installing a new stainless steel system. But that would not be traditional. The original rack is cast iron. We want it to the same as the original. There will be no compromise solution.
Also, we have discovered that our lovely old mash tun is not circular! It was cast in sections and fitted on site and the diameter of the vessel varies by as much as 4 inches at different points around the circumference. So the original racks have had to be removed so that moulds of each section can be taken. Only then can new sections of the rack be cast by the skilled craftsmen at Northern Fabricators. All of this is going to take quite a while, but that is life. We hope to be distilling spirit again towards the end of February - but it will take as long as it takes.