THE first female recruit to learn an age-old tradition of the whisky industry has said she was not put off by gender stereotypes as she takes up her new role.

Rebecca Weir is believed to be making history as she begins her apprenticeship – the first female recruit into the coppersmith trade in Scotland.

The 18-year-old hopes to have a bright future in the traditionally male-dominated field after gaining a coveted spot at Diageo Abercrombie in Alloa, Clackmannanshire.

For centuries coppersmiths have used the same tried and tested methods to make the famous stills which are at the heart of Scotch whisky distillation.

Miss Weir, joined by fellow apprentices Calum McTaggart, 16, and Steven Key, 34, will learn how to hand-beat copper sheets and weld them into whisky stills.

They will also be trained in state-of-the-art computer-aided design techniques, mastering a blend of strength, skill and patience.

Miss Weir, from Alloa, said: “My guidance teacher told me about the apprenticeship opportunities with Diageo.

“I thought it sounded like a really interesting route and I knew I had to go for it.

“I wasn’t put off by gender stereotypes – I don’t think that should stop anyone from doing what they want to do.

“It’s really exciting to be part of something which is so important to the whisky industry.

“I can’t wait to get stuck in and learn more about the essential skills needed to build and preserve the stills which produce some of the world’s most-loved Scotch whisky.”

Miss Weir joins a vanguard of female distillers, engineers, blenders and brand ambassadors at Diageo, hoping to inspire other women to join the industry.

Diageo Abercrombie has created thousands of copper stills since its creation in 1790, and now employs 43 coppersmiths at its site in Alloa.

Charlie King, mentor and operations manager at Diageo Abercrombie, said it was important to encourage young people to consider a career as a coppersmith.

He said: “The traditional coppersmith skills take 10 years to master but once mastered, it’s a career to last a lifetime.

"If there were to be a gap in skills, the trade would be lost forever – you can’t learn this out of a book – so you can see how important it is for us to nurture the next generation."