THE FIRST apprentices in 24-years at William Grant & Sons distillery in Girvan, passed their Trade Test last month.

Stewart Millarvie, 19, and Fraser Henderson, 21, had completed three years and two months of their four-year apprenticeship when they passed their assessment in February.

Two experts from the National Cooperage Federation did the final assessment. Fraser and Stewart will now complete their final ten months adjusting to their future work environment.

The company’s latest graduate coopers are both from Girvan and joined the distillery four years ago.

Fraser Henderson said: “We learned all our skills from our mentor, Paul Ross, who has worked for the company for 29 years. As well as learning how to repair casks and make them, we work with different cask types from miniatures to 2,000 litre tuns.”

Stewart Millarvie added: “We feel honoured to be able to carry on this traditional skill. To pass this stage of our training we had to sit a practical test for the National Cooperage Federation.

“It was bit nerve racking, but after four years of training we were ready for the challenge and we’re both delighted that we passed.”

Independent, family-owned distillers William Grant & Sons has pledged its commitment to continuing traditional skills with plans to recruit two new apprentice coopers for its Girvan Distillery this year.