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Bushmills hails Ireland's first qualified cooper in more than 30 years

By David Young, PA

Fresh life has been breathed into the age-old craft of barrel making in Ireland with the graduation of the first qualified cooper in more than 30 years.

Chris Kane from Co Antrim is a fourth-generation cooper, entering the trade first plied by his great-grandfather.

His qualification from the National Cooperage Federation comes after four years of training in the ancient art, using the same tools wielded by great-grandfather Jimmy Kane more than 80 years ago. Mr Kane, like the three generations of his family before him, coopers whiskey casks at the Old Bushmills Distillery in north Antrim.

He first tried the craft at the age of nine at home with his father, Alastair. They now work side-by-side at the distillery.

"It might not be an obvious career choice but coopering has been a part of my life since I was a young guy," he said.

"When the apprenticeship opportunity came up four years ago, I left what was probably deemed a good sensible job to follow what has always been my real passion.

"The wood, barrels, tools and craft, along with the opportunity to work with my dad each day, have given me the chance to contribute to the Bushmills Irish Whiskey story. It's a dream job."

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