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Scotland's first female coppersmith picks up the torch of age-old whisky craft

The most traditional of crafts has achieved a new first with a female apprentice taking up the coppersmith’s hammer and torch.

Feature

The most traditional of crafts has achieved a new first with a female apprentice taking up the coppersmith’s hammer and torch.

Rebecca Weir, 18, from Alloa has been recruited by Diageo Abercrombie as a first year Modern Apprentice and is believed to be the first female recruit into the coppersmith trade in Scotland.

Rebecca Weir, the first female recruit into the coppersmith trade in Scotland

Rebecca Weir, the first female recruit into the coppersmith trade in Scotland

She is part of the latest apprentice intake at Diageo Abercrombie alongside 16-year-old Calum McTaggart from the famous whisky island of Islay, and Steven Key, who at 34 is a mature apprentice recruit.

For centuries coppersmiths have used the same tried and tested methods to make the famous stills which are at the heart of Scotch whisky distillation.

The apprentices will learn how to hand-beat copper sheets and weld them into whisky stills, as well as being trained in state-of-the-art computer aided design techniques, mastering a blend of strength, skill and patience.

Apprentices Steven Key, Rebecca Weir and Calum McTaggart join the team at Diageo Abercrombie

Apprentices Steven Key, Rebecca Weir and Calum McTaggart join the team at Diageo Abercrombie

Rebecca, who hopes to have a bright future in the traditionally male-dominated field, gained the coveted spot on the Abercrombie apprenticeship programme following an impressive interview.

“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. I wasn’t put off by gender stereotypes – I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do. It’s really exciting to be part of something which is so important to the whisky industry. I can’t wait to get stuck in and learn more about the essential skills needed to build and preserve the stills which produce some of the world’s most-loved Scotch whisky.”

Rebecca Weir
Rebecca Weir

Diageo Abercrombie Modern Apprentice

Rebecca joins a vanguard of female distillers, engineers, blenders and brand ambassadors at Diageo, hoping to inspire other women to join the industry. At Diageo in Scotland, a quarter of all its apprentices are female; 17% of the malt distilling workforce is female and 40% are in management roles, reflecting the company’s focus on diversity in its workforce.

Abercrombie, which hand-crafts bespoke stills for Diageo’s sites across Europe, is experiencing one of the largest peaks in demand for its specialist engineering services in its history. While a traditional product, Scotch is still innovative and new ranges – which require a diverse range of stills in different shapes and sizes - are constantly being launched.