GINA ON THE JOB: Vendome Sheet Metal Worker
Every distillery in Kentucky uses their equipment to make bourbon. That's why no 'Gina on the Job' would be complete without working at Louisville-based Vendome Copper & Brass Works. So, Gina got to work in the sheet metal industry.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Every distillery in Kentucky uses their equipment to make bourbon. That's why no 'Gina on the Job' would be complete without working at Louisville-based Vendome Copper & Brass Works. So, Gina got to work in the sheet metal industry.
Before bourbon can ever be born, Vendome makes the copper for the stills. Vice President Mike Sherman is fourth generation. "It's not an easy job. These guys work real hard in here, but I think you can probably do it. We're going to put that to the test," Sherman said.
Every piece of copper is shaped manually at its facility off of Franklin Street.
"I guarantee you that most people, when they see these [stills], they don't understand that these things are handmade from flat sheet and that all the labor goes into making all these shapes and different pieces."
Workers heat the copper up to 1,400 degrees to give it some give. One piece of the still will take a couple days of labor. "It will look like a single piece, it's actually two pieces put together with the weld."
Gina then worked on the part of the still that preheats the bourbon before it goes into the still, sealing rollers inside a tube.
Welding is next. "The platform fits around the pot stills. So, we're going to put a welding hood on you and let you do a little mid welding and see how you do with that."
One still takes several months of manual work, before each piece can fit together like a puzzle. Then, it's lightly washed with acid and lightly buffed to give it that shined, uniform look that spells bourbon.
"These methods, we've been doing this for 100 years. You know, my great grandfather started this business and they used the same method now as they used back then: forming the copper, heating and beating."
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