An Essential Part of the Whisky Experience

Speyside Cooperage Sign

Many of our guests at Inverglen Guest House find Inverness an excellent base from which to enjoy visits to the many distilleries that lie within close proximity.

Inverness is technically within the Highland Whisky designation, but we are only a stone’s throw from Speyside, Scotland’s most prolific Whisky producing area.

Find out more about local distilleries and tours

Of course the focus of any whisky experience is going to be the many wonderful distilleries in our area. However, we believe that to truly understand whisky, you must appreciate the vital role that the barrell plays in imparting both colour and flavour to the finished product.

What does a Cooper Do?

Moving a barrel at Speyside Cooperage

At the Speyside Cooperage the highly skilled coopers use traditional methods to shape, shave, char and construct the barrels for many distilleries.

Some facts about Whisky barrels

Fact One: Oak is the only wood that can be used for casks as it allows the contents to breath but with seepage. Although there are more than 50 species of oak worldwide, only a few are used for whisky casks. An oak tree can take 150 years of growing before it is ready to be used to make casks.

Fact Two: Humans have been making barrels for over 5.000 years. However, many of the methods and tools used at the Speyside Cooperage are similar to those used in prehistoric times.

Fact Three: Barrels can have a life span of 60 or more years, revisiting the Cooperage several time for repairs.

Fact Four: The quality, colour and flavour of whisky depends not only on the water, barley and distillation process, but also on the cask in which it matures. Whisky will spend a minimum of 3 years in the cask, but many whiskies spend far longer than that.

History of The Speyside Cooperage

The Cooperage was founded in 1947 by the Taylor family. As well as their home in Craigellachie, they also have branches in Alloa, Kentucky and Ohio (reflecting the importance American Oak plays in the business).

The Cooperage moved into the current premises in 1991 and opened the visitors centre in 1992.

In 2008 the Cooperage was acquired by French owners Tonnellerie Francois Freres Group upon which they became part of their Cooperage family and Staves Mill.

Cooper at Work

Today the Cooperage continues to work and produce casks using age old methods and tools. With around 150,000 oak casks being produced at the Cooperage each year it is a vital part of the whisky industry, not only in Speyside but throughout Scotland and indeed the world.

Tours of the Cooperage

Tours run from Monday-friday throughout the year (except for 2 weeks over Christmas and New year).

The Classic Tour runs every half-hour from 9:00 am with the last tour at 15:30 pm.

There is also a VIP Tour which gives you a more in-depth experience and gets you closer to the action (the photos on this page were taken by John on a VIP Tour). VIP Tours must be booked in advance.

Find out more about local distilleries and tours

The Speyside Cooperage Website

All images were taken by John Frid on an arranged VIP visit to Speyside Cooperage.

The Speyside Cooperage

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