Ron Lowe and the team from Joseph Brown of Dufftown – which includes his son and apprentice Ross – built the washback on site in the traditional way, and are the only company left in the country that do so.
Ronny himself is a time-served cooper. It takes four years to become one, though he says to learn vat-building takes longer than that because of the scale, and the fact, “Every job is different!” What about the Bruichladdich job then? “It’s an excellent tun room to work in, it always is. That’s why it’s so good to work here, and the staff helps, everyone’s very accommodating.”
With the correct care for the timber, each washback should see 60 years of use. The alternative would be to use stainless steel vats, which last almost forever, and are easier to clean. You may not be surprised to learn that at Bruichladdich, however, in Production Director Allan Logan’s words, “We’ve committed to traditional.” Not only do we like working with such craftsmen, but “What the wood does is to create the most stable environment for fermentation.” This washback, number 5, in the corner, is part of ongoing renewal, after the building of a new number 4 in 2010, number 2 in 2013, number 6 at Christmas 2017, and number 1 last September.