Tam's Tall Tales

- Islay Distiller Seeks Help from 'Ugly Betty'

Bruichladdich, Islay

Islay Distiller Seeks Help from 'Ugly Betty'

When a tiny Hebridean distillery needed to bring in more equipment to meet rising demand, they ditched plans to buy new state of the art machinery and decided to resurrect a 130-year-old still, thought to be the oldest in the world.

Islay distillers Bruichladdich are almost ready to begin conjuring new whiskies with the still used when the original factory opened in 1881.

The company have also brought in a second still - dubbed Ugly Betty by staff - that they rescued from the closed-down Allied Distillers, near Dumbarton.

Distillery boss Mark Reynier said that they were both unique and would allow them to "play" with their spirits.

Both are now in place whilst the finishing touches are put on. They are resting on temporary girders three feet in the air whilst stone walls are built underneath to keep them in place.

Mr Reynier said: "We had planned to bring in new state of the art stills to try and meet demand for Bruichladdich which has seen us already increasing production eight fold since reopening the distillery 10 years ago. (Graphic on the right shows the range of whisky on offer in the visitor centre at the ditillery). "But our master distiller Jim McEwan refused to part company with the existing still which should be well past its prime. "We brought in the only company in Britain capable of refurbishing the still, Forsyth's from Rothes on Speyside and now it should be good for another number of years. "The fact that it's still going is more unusual. Most distilling groups would have chucked it out a long time ago but we want to keep it for as long as we can as it gives the spirit an authentic flavour.

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Tam O'Ranter

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