Forsyths – An Enterprising Family Business

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Forsyths – An Enterprising Family Business

Forsyths – An Enterprising Family Business
March 20
09:47 2017

There has been a Coppersmiths based in Rothes, Moray, Scotland since the mid-1850s servicing the fledgling Scotch Whisky Industry in Speyside.

In the 1890s Alexander Forsyth started his apprenticeship as a coppersmith with the then owner Robert Willison who had his main operation in Alloa in the Central Belt of Scotland. When Willison came to the end of his business life in 1933 he sold each unit to the working managers, Alexander Forsyth being that in Rothes at the time.

The business prospered until the start of the 2nd World War when it was basically mothballed alongside the Scotch Whisky Industry. At the end of the war Alexander’s son Ernest (Toot) Forsyth took over the business and the company grew in conjunction with the now rapidly expanding Scotch Whisky Industry. The present chairman, Richard Forsyth, son of Ernest, started as an apprentice coppersmith in 1968 and progressed into Forsyths’ management mid 1970s.

Over this period the Morayshire Copperworks moved from its limited premises in Green Street to more spacious surroundings in the Old Station Yard.  New custom built workshops were erected and any expansion experienced was soaked up by the Scotch Whisky Industry.


By 1979/80 over production in the industry created massive cutbacks causing 3 day weeks and mothballed distilleries. Diversification was necessary and Forsyths fabrication skills were adapted for the buoyant Papermaking Industry in the 1980s.

During this period Forsyths developed a design engineering and draughting arm which was to back up its fabrication facility. In 1981 they were offered and bought their local opposition, Grants (Dufftown) Ltd., who had a substantial electrical division, a valued add on to Forsyths services.

By the early 1990s Forsyths were in a position to compete in the lucrative Oil and Gas Industry. Premises were purchased in the North East coastal town of Buckie and developed to suit. Harbourside assembly shops were built to cater for sizeable fabrication units up to 500 tonnes which could not be transported by road.  To compliment these services Forsyths added in-house blasting and painting, scafforlding and a small civil works division to enable a complete turnkey solution.

Forsyths is a 4th-generation family-run business with bases in Rothes and Buckie. Branching out from a background in custom copper whisky stills for the Scotch Whisky industry, Forsyths now embraces high-tech fabrication in carbon and stainless steels, super duplex and titanium for amongst others the paper, pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries. The Rothes yard remains the base for the copper whisky still fabrication, and also has a “clean room” for the welding of specialist toughened steels like super duplex. Here, complex welding on another section of copper for a whisky still.
Pic: Tim Winterburn / HIE

Core Business

Whilst all of this expansion was significant to the company its core business of manufacturing and servicing equipment for the Whisky Industry was still very important and growing again for Forsyths.

In the past 20 years the Company has enlarged its portfolio to include the full design and build of turnkey distilleries for Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Tequila, Malt Whiskies and in particular Irish Whiskeys to cater for the huge increases in demand.

Irish Whiskey

Forsyths have carried out maintenance and replacement for IDL Pernod Ricard’s Midleton site for the past 25 years and were delighted to be awarded the contract to build the new “Garden Stillhouse” showcasing the biggest copper pot stills in the world at 80,000 litre content, 40,000 litre charge capacity. These stills were so big they could not be transported by road and had to be shipped from the Buckie facility directly to Cork. They were designed with the latest energy efficient heating systems and have operated successfully for the last 5 years. Demand has been so great that a further three of these Pot Stills have been added to the Garden Stillhouse this year.

Besides having built five other distilleries in Ireland Forsyths have current contracts in Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand, England and North America as well as carrying out their biggest ever contract to date – the new Macallan Distillery in Speyside, Scotland. They are increasing capacity at the famous Glenfiddich Distillery and doubling capacity at IDL’s sister company’s distillery – The Glenlivet.

Forsyths are very proud to have such a close working relationship with Irish Distillers Limited and continue to develop this relationship with further intended projects.

The company moves into its 4th generation of ownership and management with Richard E Forsyth Jnr. now well ensconced as MD ensuring continuation of this enterprising family business.

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