Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC MayJune 2015 Contents working their own full time job on top of opening a distillery,
the process from the initial meeting to sketches to final sign
off can stretch out.
"It goes forwards-backwards several times but it can be all
done within a week or it can take a few weeks, even a couple
of months," he says. "Until everything is finalised."
After the sign-off the final still design drawings are
completed, sent for approval, and then the copper has to be
ordered -- which can be an unfortunate spanner in the works,
depending on a few different factors.
"As far as I know there are no copper mills in Australia
any more so the copper comes from overseas, and if there
aren't any stocks, then the wait can be lengthy," says Bailly.
"Recently, stocks have been pretty good, I didn't have to wait
very long until I had the copper coming into the workshop. I
get the copper cut in Melbourne, so it goes from the supplier
to a cutting company and then we get it, that process usually
takes three to six weeks before I receive the copper."
As with most metals, there are different grades of copper
that can be ordered and worked with. Bailly uses food grade
copper -- for obvious reasons -- though there is also electrical
grade, and structural or architectural grades on the market.
From there, the construction begins in earnest, with very
careful guidelines to be followed to ensure the integrity of
the final product.
"There are some engineering guidelines in that it has to be
a minimum thickness -- you want the vessel to hold its volume
of liquid," he says. "It's the thickest on the bottom and as it
goes up, strength is not so much needed closer to the top so
the metal gets thinner."
It's also a cost saving measure -- remember the
mention of eye-wateringly high prices -- as copper is not a
"We have to scrounge everywhere we can," Bailly says.
All that effort and expense is not a lifetime investment,
however. That said, the stills will last a long time, depending
on how they are used of course. As Bailly points out,
DOUGLAS COOK, REGIONAL SALES
MANAGER AT GLENDRONACH
"Glendronach has fairly bulky stills, while
others have very tall necks, ours are medium
height -- the higher the neck, the further the
alcohol vapour has to travel. The wash stills
each hold 9,000 litres and the spirit stills
hold 6,000 litres. The spirit stills have quite
sharply descended lyne arms -- with the angle
of the lyne arm, a steep ascending creates
more reflux, and descending captures higher
alcohol -- therefore it means that some of the
low wines will fall back down into the still to
be redistilled. However, because the stills are
not short, but they are not overly tall, it means
that some of those heavier alcohols rise up
and over the neck of the lyne leading to a
more full bodied spirit. There is a combination
of factors that lead to the whisky being fuller
bodied: mineral content in the water; the
fermentation time; the shape of the stills;
and the sherry casks. All of these aspects
come together. Certainly the Glendronach
stills you would probably describe as typical
Highland, the shape is not uncommon and
they are kept in pristine condition -- they're
LAURA HAY, GLENFIDDICH AND THE
BALVENIE BRAND AMBASSADOR
"The more copper contact you have while
distilling, the more complex the spirit is going
to be. So the important things are the size,
the shape, the length of the still and also the
length of the distillation. As we're boiling
our wash it distils off and, as it steams, it hits
off the sides of the copper to create what
we call reflux. So, if you have a big curve in
your still, and a boil ball that it gets trapped
in, there will be extra reflux -- meaning you
get more chemical compounds and more
complex flavours. Every distillery has its own
unique shape and size and that determines
the character of the whisky. The swan-necked
stills at Glenfiddich are the same shape as
the originals from when the distillery started
in 1887 and, like most Scotch distilleries, we
distil twice. The unique shape of the stills at
Glenfiddich means that we get quite a high
alcohol spirit -- it can be as high as 74 per cent.
At Balvenie, the pot still is very tall and the lyne
arm points down after the neck, whereas in the
spirit stills the arm rises after the bend, which
makes Balvenie a sweet and smooth whisky."
the 24 hour, seven day
a week, production that
takes place in some of the
Scottish distilleries is out
of reach of the smaller
distilleries that are currently
functioning in Australia, so
the discrepancies in age will
How long do they last?
"In Scotland I think
they're talking 25-30 years,"
he says. "If it's used in the
cottage industry down here,
where the still is firstly not
run 24 hours a day, and
secondly most of them don't
run every day, then it will
last a lot longer."
Unsurprisingly, with the
upswing in demand for
locally produced spirits
and the incredible heights
to which Australian spirits are rising on the international
scene, Bailly has seen an upswing in demand for his services.
And while most of the demand is in the whisky arena, there
are plenty of other spirit stills rolling out of the workshop
"The majority is whisky, but I have been asked to produce
a few stills that are going to be used for gin, vodka, and
other spirits," he says. "It's always when you start up in the
spirits business as a new distillery, when you do whisky, you
have nothing for sale for a minimum of three, four, or five
years. So you have to bridge that time and that is usually
done by spirits that are manufactured in a shorter time."
A few of the distilleries Bailly has manufactured stills for
include: Archie Rose and Lark, of course, as well as Distillery
Botanica north of Sydney, the Sydney Distillery in the Hunter
Valley, and Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst. In Victoria
there is the New World Distillery in Essendon Airport, and
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. Then Great Southern
Distillery in Albany, WA, and Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Just don't ask him to pick a favourite.
"Oh no. I couldn't say that. There's no favourites," he says.
"I like them all -- they're all my babies." b&c
KYLIE, THE HIPPOCAMPUS STILL
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