The 40th anniversary of Spirit Still #1


Colin Tocher, who now works at Bruichladdich in the Harvey Hall, started his career as a coppersmith at McMillans of Prestonpans near Edinburgh in Scotland where he served his time as an apprentice.  Back in 1973, Colin installed spirit still #1 in our still room – which is enjoying its 40th anniversary this year.…

Colin manufactured the parts for the still in the workshop back in Edinburgh and these were then transported to Bruichladdich via truck and ferry to be assembled on site.  Colin remembers that the roof had to be taken off the distillery and the parts lowered down into position using a big crane that happened to be on the island at the time.  The still then had to be welded together, with one man working on the inside, and another outside due to the thickness of the copper.  The welded seams then had to be hammered to harden them.  When finished, it had to be tested by painting the outside white and then covering the inside with a special red dye which would seep through and expose any holes – which would then have to be re-welded.

Colin recalls that the whole process took three to four weeks of working 12 hour days before it was finally commissioned.  The date on the still actually says it was installed in 1971, which is actually incorrect.  We must get that changed some day…

After finishing up at Bruichladdich, Colin headed up north to work on more distillery jobs up on Speyside, but the draw of Islay proved strong – he returned in 1974, and has been here ever since…

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