Debuting the Miniature Cask

I can hardly believe we’re already out of January but it’s true and what’s more, we’re over a week into February! Suddenly the thoughts of what we’re going to grow in the garden this year and plans for camping, fishing and a million others things you swear you’ll do in the summer become a little bit more real. This week has been about two big things- casks and preorders. Back at Celtic connections, we had given attendees the first chance to preorder the Raasay Single Malt, as well as debuting our new 30 litre casks. Well, this week the 30l casks went public, and we needed some photos for the press release. This often the most fun part of distillery work- you’ve maybe one or two days to try and gather photos or make a video and it’s a case of things on the go and see what works. My office is strewn with notes and sketched ideas, and when I finally settle on something I’m usually phoning around asking who is free in the building so I can get their photograph. The quickest idea I could come up with was a simple comparison, which looked fine and was handy for flyer and the website, but still felt a bit impersonal.

Eilean suggested I get someone to hold the cask under the arm, simply to highlight how small and dinky it was. I figured the warehouse would be the best place to shoot it, so I grabbed my A7III, 50mm lens and after a frantic call to Iain to beg for his help, I snapped this:

“My Child”

I personally thought this was the best photo I took of the entire lot, but afterwards, Iain thought of an idea: why not have someone hold a full-size barrel in the same under-the-arm way? Obviously, this wasn’t entirely possible so we’d have to fake it, so with that in mind the best person I hold it would be someone who looks smaller next to a full-size cask anyway. So…

They put up with a lot around here.

Notice the trick? It’s some not-very-expert photoshop work, but for a 30-minute edit? Not too bad. Photoshops updated content-aware fill mode is very effective, plus a bit of sly cloning and copy/pasting. Fools most people I’d reckon.

And the news loved it! The first to pick up the story was out friends over at Scottish Field, but soon enough we had numerous outlets all picking up the story and all using the photo as a cover. The distillery was completely inundated with calls and emails about the project and we really couldn’t have expected a better response. I still wish they had used some of my alternates, but hey ho maybe next time.

Of course, it was all very well taking photos fo them and selling them, the next big thing was, of course, filling and storing the miniatures. On Monday while I was still figuring out my plan for the week, I was told in passing that the 30 litres had arrived and were already being filled! I have never run out of my office faster!

They filled all 60 of them over the course of a couple days, and since it might be my only chance to snap them getting filled until we get more (whenever that may be), I figured I needed to get as much coverage of it as possible. Along with a whole host of photos, here’s a video of the second day of filling I cut together for social media:

Because of our warehouse setup, we don’t rack or dunnage any of our casks, so the plan was to stick the casks on the very highest levels right near the roof. I’ve heard in East Asia and Australia where malt is made that the humidity can result in much higher losses due to evaporation in barrels stored near the top of a warehouse- here’s hoping that won’t be a problem here or they’ll be empty within a year!

The Thinking Man
Okay, for the last time… these are small but the ones up there are far, far away

We also had another interesting fill that day- from small to huge!

This is one of two beautiful ex-Cambus casks, last filled almost 30 years ago at the now lost Cambus grain distillery in the Scottish lowlands. The place closed in 1993, but our Co-Founder Alasdair bottled the two casks of (at that point) 27-year old grain whisky for a special limited edition Tweeddale called A Silent Character (Referencing both grain whisky’s role in a blended whisky as often being the ‘overlooked’ or ‘silent’ aspect of the spirit, as well as the ‘silent’ or closed nature of the distillery). I have a bottle at home and it is wonderful stuff. A sweet, almost rum-like flavour with syrup and honey. We’re now refilling these casks with unpeated spirit and, needless to say, if the whisky that was in it before has any influence, we’ll be in for a treat when it’s ready.

A photo I got as part of a Christmas promotion last year.

However, the 30L casks and ex-cambus specials are small fry compared with the bigger event: pre-orders. This last week has involved cutting together a 20-hour long project which I’m still chipping away at. A story for another day…

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