The Glenrothes Adventure part 2: Hangin’ with Mr Cooper

There’s your bits and pieces – now get to it

Clutch and I have a saying: Ordeals beget treats. We’re thinking of having it made into a coat of arms.

Essentially, it reflects the fact that everything we do together that has an element of difficulty about it (like that time we thought it would be a good idea to cycle across the bay in low tide from Bruichladdich to Bowmore, rather than simply stick to the road around the Islay coast), there’s usually a dram at the end of it. And, we like to think, the treat more than compensates for the ordeal.

I’m delighted to say that the motto held true in this instance.

As I mentioned yesterday, there’s this competition. Four people will each be appointed The Glenrothes Whisky Maker for a week following a worldwide competition which launches on 4th October 2010. That’s Monday week, guys.

The successful candidates will be recruited to work as The Glenrothes Whisky Makers in the heart of single malt production, Speyside, Scotland.

That’s right: work.

So one of the first things I did when got to The Glenrothes in order to find out about this competition was to partake in a bit of cooperage. That is – I got to make a barrel.

First, Ronnie showed how it’s done:

Then, in some bizarre twist on the Generation Game, it was suddenly my turn. Cooperage, it has to be said, is one of those things that could benefit from a spot of practice. I’d never done it before in my life.

Naturally, things did not go entirely smoothly.

I felt I did remarkably well under the circumstances, since there is usually a clear delineation of work between Clutch and I whenever it comes to this sort of thing. He takes care of all of the craft skills, woodworking, DIY, practical abilities and anything requiring coordination, and I provide company and moral support.

It’s served us well to this day, and so, in his absence, being in the position of actually making something was a bit of an experience. It’s certainly one I can recommend though, because it meant that I’d had some small hand in the making of some future dram – and an excellent one at that, I’ll bet.

There was more to come, and this was just the tip of the iceberg – but if you think that looks tricky – wait till you try rolling a barrel. I mean – it’s easy enough to roll them – they are built for that sort of thing. It’s not quite so easy to roll them with a destination in mind. Forward momentum is not the problem – it’s steering.

Thankfully, nobody recorded any video of my efforts on that particular front. Suffice to say, that particular barrel might not be included in the less than 2% of whisky selected by The Glenrothes each year for their vintage release…

But you’ll be relieved to know that after the ordeal of manual labour – there were indeed treats. And not only were those treats spectacular, the ordeals were pretty great as ordeals go too.

More about the upcoming Glenrothes competition soon…

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