The cooperage was officially opened by His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex on 28 November 2011. His Royal Highness has a long-standing interest in coopering and is an Honorary Member of the Incorporation of Coopers.
The increase in demand for Diageo’s world-leading Scotch whisky brands meant the new cooperage was a key part of its overall investment programme for growing its production capacity in Scotland. The coopers craft around 250,000 casks each year - all of which will be used to mature Scotch whisky for leading brands, such as Johnnie Walker, Bell’s and J&B Rare.
Tom Duncan, a manager at Cambus who was part of the team tasked with leading the new cooperage project explained the ethos behind the cooperage: “It’s not often you get to start with a blank sheet of paper and design something like this from scratch. We worked closely with our coopers to maximise the craft skills which are the core of the job, while using smart technology to minimise the bending and heavy-lifting involved. It’s that blend of craft and innovation which makes this different from any cooperage I’ve ever seen.”
To create the cooperage Diageo worked with Leicester-based engineering firm CI Logistics, which works primarily in the automotive industry; together they custom-designed a series of mechanical conveyors to move the casks (which weigh up to 85kg when empty) around the cooperage between the hand-craft elements of the process. The result is the world’s most innovative cooperage.