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Spirit of Speyside best new events diary: Speyside Cooperage team smash world record challenge

Heading to Speyside to help judge the best new events category for the Whisky Festival, Sean Murphy headed to the Speyside Cooperage to watch the team smash their World Record attempt.

Published: April 29, 2017
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The excitement was already growing by 12pm as the crowd began to filter in to the Speyside Cooperage to watch the first ever attempt at this cask building world record.

The challenge?  To take the new Guinness World Record title for fastest time to build a 190 litre barrel.

Never before having been attempted, four of the Cooperage's best Coopers went head to head to try and be the fastest.

Piped in by the full Strathisla Pipe Band, a quiet hush fell over the family members, international visitors and fellow coopers who had gathered to watch as the four challengers entered.


Introduced by Richard Lochhead MSP, Calum Lawson, Kyle Cooper, David McKenzie and Brent Bowie got ready as a nervous energy filled the viewing gallery and Cooperage floor.

Richard Lochhead MSP introduces the competitors

As the four men took their stations, Guinness World Records adjudicator Jack Brockbank talked everyone through the official attempt, stating that the first man to build their 190 litre barrel, pass the pressure and water tests and do so under the seven minutes and thirty seconds would be the holder of the brand new record.

With the components of the cask laid out in front of them, Brockbank's whistle saw the Coopers get on their way.

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With seven minutes and thirty seconds the time to beat, the Coopers took less than half that time to finish with all four smashing the time and veteran cooper David McKenzie just edging out his colleagues to finish first.

There was some nervous chatter as all four barrels were tested by the team to ensure they were water tight but there was a several cheers when the final results were read out and all four casks were deemed to have passed the rigorous testing.

The team test out the casks.

With the winning time of 3.03.18, 26 years time served veteran cooper David was the new World Record Holder and the first man to win to ever win the title. Even more impressive was the fact that two of the other competitors who finished under half a minute after David had both only finished their four-year apprenticeships a year ago.

Winner David with his cask.

As the celebrations began, Cooperage manager Gill Reid thanked everyone for coming and presented David with a watch made using wood from the Cooperage's casks and mini coopering kits to the runners up so that "they could practice at home".

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The official certificate.

An excellent event it was a hugely fitting way to mark the 75th anniversary of the  Cooperage and the 25th anniversary of the visitor centre, and it seems the gauntlet has well and truly been laid down to coopers around the world.

Though as ex-cooper and tour guide Ronnie points out, they already have other cooperages in Scotland who are champing at the bit to have a go at taking the new title.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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