Located in Blackford at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, the Tullibardine Highland Scotch Malt Whisky distillery sits on an historic brewing and distilling site that can trace its roots back to 1488, recording the first UK sale of two barrels of beer to King James IV of Scotland. Today, under the ownership of Picard Vins & Spiritueux, the site boasts a bonded warehouse, bottling hall, dry goods warehouse and visitor centre.
The distillery produces six key malt whisky lines including sauternes, burgundy and sherry finishes plus its acclaimed Sovereign 20- and 25-year single malts. With over three million litres of alcohol being produced per year, and shipped and sold globally, Tullibardine is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to distil, mature and bottle all on one site.
Protection against 'the angels' share'
Key to the decision to award Crown Lift Trucks the contract to supply Tullibardine with material handling equipment was the ability to meet the specialist requirements of a whisky distillery – in particular where barrel-handling applications were concerned. As the trucks operate in warehousing and storage areas where whisky vapour emissions can be present (also known as the ‘angels’ share’) the trucks needed to be easily adapted with fire protection systems which provide audible and visual warnings of potential fire hazards.
All trucks working within the bonded warehouse and bottling hall are fitted with a gas detection and monitoring system providing audible and visual warning when it detects a gas or vapour. Crown Scotland’s Sales Manager and Whisky Industry Specialist, Colin Neilson, explains: “One of the terms you often hear when working around whisky distilleries is ‘the angels’ share’. As whisky is slowly maturing, a small amount, roughly two per cent, evaporates through the wooden cask and into the atmosphere. Distilleries have to accept this as a sacrifice to the heavens, hence the term ‘the angels’ share’.
"From an operational point of view, however, this vapour in the air can potentially be a hazard. The system we fitted has the ability to shut down the truck if vapour levels rise above a pre-set limit, preventing the truck from being the source of ignition for an explosion.”
The fleet includes Crown’s C-5 Series LPG-powered forklift fitted with a specialist rotating barrel clamp, which operates throughout the site in all weathers while Crown’s SC 6000 Series three-wheel electric forklift truck, fitted with a specialist barrel tilting attachment, operates internally, its compact dimensions being ideal for working in the confines of the warehouses.
Colin Neilson says: “A specialist cask rotator can be fitted to the C-5 Series when the operator needs to move full or empty casks. Attaching to the truck’s hydraulic system, the operator has precise control, including side-shift operation, to ensure accurate placement of the barrels.
“The operator’s cabin provides excellent visibility while hydraulic levers with tactile feedback ensure the interchangeable rotating barrel clamp can be positioned with absolute precision, allowing safe and secure handling of potentially awkward loads. This is especially necessary when handling full casks of valuable product.”
The Crown C-5 Series LPG forklift truck is the ideal all-round workhorse for the Tullibardine application, where multiple tasks need to be completed at different areas of the site, and involve both indoor and outdoor working in all weather conditions.
The C-5 Series is used extensively across the distillery site, so reliability and ease of control were two key requirements for Tullibardine. Whether working outdoors, loading and unloading vehicles, or working within the bottling hall to move pallets of finished product, the C-5 Series provides smooth, precise handling and ease of operation to ensure operator productivity is maximised.
Colin Neilson explains: “Fitted with Crown’s low-emission LPG-powered 2.4 litre industrial engine, combined with a robust hydrodynamic transaxle and dual radiator cooling system, the C-5 Series delivers extended service intervals and reduced costs. Operators are well cared for with Crown’s Intrinsic Stability System™ which proactively ensures optimal safety and performance – and their acceptance of the trucks has been excellent.”
Indoors and out
Compact, economical, manoeuvrable, versatile, the Crown SC Series three-wheel forklift truck is perfectly suited to indoor applications where space is at a premium. With a near zero-turn radius and outstanding visibility, operators can accurately position the SC 6000 Series in even the tightest aisles.
In the confines of the Tullibardine bonded warehouse where casks of whisky are matured and space is inevitably at a premium, the nimble gait and precisely controllable performance of the SC Series comes to the fore. Fitted with a tilting cask-kicker attachment, the SC 6000 Series affords the operator maximum control while lifting the cask to the correct height before tilting and accurately rolling it into position within the storage racks.
Using steel covers instead of plastic to ensure maximum protection for motors and electronic componentry, Crown trucks have long enjoyed a reputation for robust construction and maximum reliability. Crown’s Access 1 2 3® technology provides instant, onboard diagnostics of all forklift systems for simplified service, ensuring operator confidence through real-time monitoring and management of truck systems.
John Torrence, Distillery Manager - Tullibardine Highland Scotch Malt Whisky, concludes: "Crown’s reputation for robust construction and reliable performance played a key role in the decision-making process for us at Tullibardine.
“From this site, we ship our products all over the world, so it was vitally important that our material handling fleet was going to be reliable. From our initial meeting with Colin, I was impressed with the build quality of the Crown product.
"Combined with its dedicated sales and service operation to support customers in Scotland and then the deal stacking up financially, Crown became the obvious choice.
“We have an excellent working relationship and the trucks are living up to their reputation.”