Whiskey Barrels Lifted With Ease Using Bespoke Grab-O-Matic Tools

How St Clare Engineering made lifting barrels quick and safe for one Irish whiskey distiller

by Andy Bow | Wednesday 6 October 2021


What was the customer problem?
Heavy wooden whiskey barrels cannot easily be lifted by standard forklift truck attachments, so are difficult to move.

How did St Clare Engineering solve the problem?
We manufactured a bespoke lifting attachment and quick release system, so the barrels can now be lifted quickly and easily without workers having to leave their forklift trucks.

Safe lifting for barrels and drums
Safe working practices and new legislation demand that every employer takes steps to provide a safe working environment for their team. In the world of whiskey, distillers have historically relied on burly men to move barrels manually – but this is considered neither safe nor practical for all workers.
So when Irish distiller Tullamore DEW approached us to help them handle whiskey barrels by forklift truck we were delighted to help. Tullamore is a leading brand of Irish whiskey, produced by William Grant & Sons. Established in 1829, the distillery at Tullamore uses traditional wooden casks to mature the spirit – perfect for flavour and character, but difficult to manoeuvre.

Handling different shaped barrels
Whisky casks or barrels weigh around 30kg empty, and up to 200kg when full. With a traditional bulging centre, these casks have tapered ends in a range of different sizes, including basic Barrel, Hogshead, Butt, Quarter Cask, Barique, Puncheon, Port pipe and Madeira barrels – and each distiller prefers a different size barrel.

Making a bespoke barrel lifter
St Clare Engineering is experienced in tailoring forklift truck drum handling attachments to fit any shape and size of barrel. We used a sample barrel from Tullamore DEW to manufacture a base gripper lifting attachment with gripping arms to fit the curve of their barrique drum to provide a strong and secure lifting capacity.

Quick Release mechanism for speed and safety
St Clare Engineering’s quick-release forklift truck system is designed to make drum and barrel lifting safer and more efficient. Once the system is installed on the forklift truck, the spring-loaded design means the drum handling attachment can be engaged and released quickly and securely without the driver having to leave his cab and manage the bolts and chains that would otherwise be needed to secure and release the load.

Tullamore DEW were keen to make use of this safe and efficient system, so once we had details of their forklift truck we were able to manufacture the right Quick Release system for their needs.

“We are delighted with the speed and efficiency of Grab-O-Matic products from St Clare Engineering,” says Alan Mahon, Project Engineer at Tullamore. “The bespoke gripping arms and quick release system give our team the tools they need to handle our precious whiskey barrels safely and securely – and faster too! We will be placing another bespoke order soon.”

Contact St Clare Engineering for more information on our bespoke drum handling attachments and our Quick Release system for forklift trucks. We supply a wide range of drum handling equipment to help your team work more safely and efficiently, and have the experience to manufacture the ideal solution to your drum handling problems.


Andy Bow
St Clare Engineering Ltd
+44 23 8064 3402

Wednesday 6 October 2021 / file under Automotive | Chemical | Engineering | Food and Beverage | Oil | Pharmaceuticals