Shrine of the Majestic, Mysterious
Scotch Single Malt
In my research pertaining to the Scotch Single Malt Whisky,
there has been a void in the body of my findings concerning
this simple, yet very complex and mysterious, production
process. That "missing link" has to do with
the manufacture and construction of the Pot Still, around
which all the other elements of production radiate. As
it turned out, the pursuit and final results of my efforts
in this area were among the most interesting and photographically
rewarding of any of my pursuits in this area.
I had arranged to interview David "The Nose"
Robertson, Manager of The Macallan Distillery. While I
was interviewing David, a coppersmith came to ask a question
pertaining to the pot still repair work that he was doing
in the Still House. I was introduced to this man who left
and returned to his work. An hour or so later, I went
over to the Still House to photograph this "maintenance
aspect" of distillery activities. I found the coppersmith
inside the pot still with a large hammer. He granted me
permission to make this rare photograph and invited me
to come to the headquarters of his business and meet the
owner. I readily accepted, of course.
Late the next afternoon, I was at A. Forsyth & Son
Ltd. in the village of Rothes, which is about fifteen
miles south of Elgin. The Forsyth copperworks have been
in existence since the late 1800s with branches in Dufftown
and Dunfermline. Their workforce numbers around 300 employees.
Products of this firm, in addition to the fabrication
of pot stills, include column distillation units, pressure
vessels, heat exchangers, condensers, holding tanks, power
and process pipework and other similar instruments for
clients all over the world.
Richard Forsyth, Managing Director of the company, was
a very interesting, informative and generous man. My timing
was perfect as the plant was closed and the employees
gone. I spent about two hours with Mr. Forsyth in his
very nice office. We shared a couple or so drams as he
answered all of my questions and provided me with a new
insight into the wonderful world of the Scotch single
malt. I accepted his invitation to return the next day
as he granted me "free run" of the place to
photograph the process of constructing the pot still and
spirit condensers. It was quite an education and challenge
to capture the activities that were carried out at this
complex place. The sample of photographs included here
illustrate this quite well. I gained a new respect for
the pot still and certainly for the exceptionally fine
and highly talented individuals who produce them. Richard
Forsyth is a fine representative for the industry and
his generosity with me is greatly appreciated.
Back to Education
Dr. McCoy stands beside the "neck" of the pot
A welder in the left foreground works on the bottom portion
of a pot still. Workers in the background finish the main
portion of the still.
Welding together the two parts of the pot still.
A view from the yards of the A. Forsyth Copperworks in
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