Everyone at the distillery is delighted that mashing production has started again. The boys from Northern Fabricators have done an amazing job and the new stirring mechanism for our old open-topped cast iron mash tun is working perfectly. The first seven ton ‘mash’ of grist was loaded in yesterday and the resulting sweet wort has moved to the big wooden washbacks in the tun room where fermentation is well under way. It is good to see and smell and feel the distillery coming back to life – there is a welcome return to the familiar atmosphere we know so well. Distillation is expected to start in the wash stills either Sunday evening or Monday morning.
We ceased distillation just before the Christmas break last year because the raking mechanism in our mash tun (the huge vessel in which the barley grist is steeped to extract the sugars), was worn out. The mash tun dates back to 1881 when the distillery was built. As our general manager Duncan McGillivray put it “The guarantee has definitely expired!” Spare parts are unobtainable. If we wanted to retain the traditional way of making whisky that is central to the Bruichladdich philosophy, the only option was to dissemble the original, make patterns from it and then re-cast all the components.
It was a complex and time consuming process involving some very skilled and dedicated people. To have made the whole refurb happen in just three months is a considerable achievement and we appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.