First-ever female coppersmith apprentice

Posted on 16 Dec 2017 and read 1026 times
First-ever female coppersmith apprenticeAlloa-based whisky producer Diageo Abercrombie (www.diageo.com) has recruited 18-year-old Rebecca Weir as a first-year ‘modern apprentice’.

She joins 16-year-old Calum McTaggart and ‘mature apprentice’ Steven Key to learn how to hand-beat copper sheets and weld them into whisky stills — mastering a blend of strength, skill and patience that has been passed from generation to generation.

The training integrates college qualifications with hands-on experience.

Ms Weir said: “My guidance teacher told me about the apprenticeship opportunities with Diageo. I thought it sounded like a really interesting route and I knew I had to go for it.

It’s really exciting to be part of something that is so important to the whisky industry; I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

She joins a vanguard of female distillers, engineers, blenders and brand ambassadors at Diageo Abercrombie; 25% of its apprentices are female, along with 17% of the distilling workforce.

Charlie King, mentor and operations manager, said: “The traditional coppersmith skills take 10 years to master; then it’s a career to last a lifetime.

“If there was a gap, the skills would be lost forever — you can’t learn them out of a book — so you can see how important it is for us to nurture the next generation.

“As a company, we look to give opportunities to anyone who deserves them, and these three budding apprentices were definitely the right candidates for this year’s programme.”

Founded in 1790, Diageo Abercrombie currently employs 43 coppersmiths at its site in Alloa, with a further nine apprentices to ensure that global demand is met.

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