Ian MacDonald


Q. What is your principle professional skill?
A. Head Cooper, I repair casks for whisky industry.

Q. How did you learn your skill?
A, I learned my craft at Glenfiddich Distillery.

Q. Are there any other people in the region doing what you do?
A. Yes there are three other cooperages in the area.

Q. How important do you think your skill is for the region?
A. I think it’s very important.

Q. How has your profession evolved over the last few decades?
A. Technology has crept in.

Q. What are the main differences between now and when you started?
A. Hoop drivers, rivet banks and rejuvenation. We now have hydraulic hoop drivers instead of manually hammering hoops tight, and again hydraulic machinery to rivet hoops, and when the hoops become to slack we need to remove old rivets and make the hoops smaller, this is all done by hydraulic presses.

Q. How do you anticipate the future to be for your skill?
A. Very important the way whisky sales are going.

Q. How important do you think it is to pass the skill on to the next generation?
A. It’s very important for whisky industry to keep craft alive.

Q. How could that be achieved?
A. By teaching more apprentices.

Q.  Would you be prepared to train someone?
A. Yes, I am already teaching two people.

Q. Do you think that society should feel obliged to find a way of preserving such skills?
A. Yes

Q. What, if anything, could be done to help to preserve your skills and support your profession.
a. The Coopers Federation and Employers are trying hard to promote the craft by taking on apprentices  but due to the nature of the job, hard work etc it is quite difficult to keep people in the trade.

Q. What kind of rewards do you get from your skill, monetary and/or otherwise?
A. I get job satisfaction.