Hammer of the gods

18 June 2014

Following on from her visit the other week to Forsyth's in Rothes, Isidora's research into the qualities of her chosen working material continued when she met with one of Glenfiddich's most respected craftsman; Dennis McBain. For fifty years Dennis served as the distilleries coppersmith and as such was responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of our stills.

it would not be an exaggeration to describe Dennis's knowledge of working copper as being encyclopaedic and to his credit it is a knowledge he is more than happy to share. Isidora was not only shown some of tools employed in the manipulation of copper sheets, through  heat and hammer, into the flowing curves of a complete still. She also gained some first hand experience of how the copper behaves when heated. This will be important when she comes to work with it herself. Indeed the parameters of the material's qualities will have an influence in shaping the form of her final work.

Despite being officially retired since 2008 Dennis is still a common face at the distillery always happy to share some fascinating insights to his craft. From the burning of juniper in a newly made still before the first distillation, to 'sweeten the copper'. To some of the terminology used in still construction. Dennis drew our attention to how different pieces of the still are named after parts of the body, the shoulder, neck, belly, throat etc. Such an empathic vernacular conveys the quality of dedication and passion that can be found in many of those involved with the production of our single malt. Dennis is no exception and over his lifetime he has developed a deeper understanding with the still almost becoming a living, breathing thing, being cared for and nurtured by Mr Dennis McBain, the still doctor.