Whisky Focus - Dennis McBain Scotch Whisky's Longest Serving Coppersmith

Scotch Whisky's Longest Serving Coppersmith

29th October 2009
Scotch Whisky’s Longest Serving Coppersmith Marks 50th Anniversary

Coppersmith Dennis McBain will today mark his 50th anniversary with the same whisky distillery in Scotland. Dennis became coppersmith at The Balvenie Distillery in Speyside in 1959 aged just 17. He served a five-year apprenticeship and has been doing the same job now for half a century.

He said; “I may be one of the last people ever to have a 50 year career in one job and with one employer. It was an innovative step taken by The Balvenie in the 1950s to employ their own craftsman as most distilleries bought in services and over the last half century Balvenie has remained committed to keeping its own team. Finding an employer who values the old skills and is willing to keep their own craftsmen in order to preserve them is rare these days. I could have retired several years ago but I love the distillery and the people I work with, it is still very important part of my life.”

Dennis learned his coppersmithing skills from Willie McLachan who was considered to be one of Scotland’s top whisky coppersmiths. Willie retired from The Balvenie in 1978 having served around 21 years with the company and Dennis took his place as the Distillery’s main coppersmith.

The Balvenie is the only Distillery in Scotland still to grow its own barley, malt on a traditional floor maltings and retain its own team of craftsmen including, coopers, maltmen and a coppersmith. Many of the Distillery’s team have worked there for over 40 years.

Mr David Stewart, Malt Master for The Balvenie said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Dennis. I have worked for The Balvenie for 43 years and Dennis and I have become friends and colleagues. The Balvenie is a multi-award winning single malt and our craftsmen play a crucial role in its continuing success. The Balvenie PortWood 21 Year Old recently collected the top accolade “Single Malt Trophy” at the prestigious International Spirits Challenge, one of the world’s leading spirits competitions. Dennis and all our other craftsmen use their decades of experience daily to enable us to create one of the world’s finest single malts.”

Dennis McBain Still Amongst The Stills

Read what Dennis has to say about his time amongst the stills at Balvenie - Still Amongst The Stills

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