Producing a 40 litre ceramic Usquaebach whisky flagon!

5th November 2014

Watch The Making of an Usquaebach Decanter video below and read our blog for further detail.


This post describes the process of manufacturing a 40 litre whisky flagon which weighs approximately 20kg when empty! It has been made in the Wade Ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent and we will show step-by-step, how Wade Ceramics skilled employees created these ceramic masterpieces.


1 Pouring slip in 2 Pouring slip in
The very first step is to fill the large mould with liquid clay (or slip). The mould is filled right to the top which takes around 10 minutes! It is then left to set for about 30 minutes. In this time, moisture is extracted from the liquid clay, via the porous membrane of the mould, forming the shell of the flagon.


3 Tipping slip out
When the liquid clay achieves the correct wall thickness, excess clay is tipped out which leaves the cast flagon on the inside of the mould. This is left for approximately 2 hours until it has set enough to be able to open the mould and reveal the fully formed clay inside.


5 Taking half mould off 6 Taking half mould off
Only half of the mould is removed to ensure the decanter holds its shape. The clay is still very soft at this stage, so extreme care is taken to ensure it does not deform!


7 Attaching handle 8 Attaching handle
Skill and precision is used to ensure the handle is placed in exactly the right place! Our caster attaches the handle securely. The piece now rests like this until it is safe to remove from the mould completely.



10 Taking out of mould Taking out of mould stopper
It takes four of our team to carefully slide the mould away from the decanter. Once it has been completely taken out of the mould, it is placed somewhere safe to dry out in preparation for fettling. It is left for about 24 hours to ensure that it is ready to be fettled.


13 Fettling 12 Fettling
Once the decanter and stopper are dry enough, they are fettled so that they are super smooth! Any minor faults with the casting are put right prior to being fired. To fettle and smooth each piece takes about 40 mins.



14 Onto kiln
The decanters are then lifted onto the kiln car, ready to go into the kiln for the first time. In the kiln the decanters are fired at 1080°c for 6 hours. This process takes out all of the moisture so that we are left with a solid ceramic decanter, ready to be glazed.



15 Glazing  18 Glazing 17 Glazing
After firing, the decanter is ready to be hand glazed. Firstly the bottom section of the decanter is masked so that the glaze can be applied in a precise area. After spraying the top with honey glaze, the masking is removed and a translucent glaze is applied to the main body.


Glazed 1 Artwork (1) Artwork 1
After firing you can see that the glaze colour has changed completely. It has turned into a light brown/beige colour to match the required colour of the Usquaebach decanter!

Each piece has two different sheets of artwork applied, one on the front and one on the back. This is done by hand by one of our skilled lithographers. The decal has a yellow film which is burned off during firing to leave only the finished print.



Artwork 2
The decanter has been fired for the third and final time and after adding the stopper we have the finished flagon. This completes the process of producing a 40 litre decanter for Usquaebach whisky, in the Wade Ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

Some of the brands we work with
Nelsons Gin logo
Thorntons logo
Tetley logo
Tullamore Drew logo
Natwest logo
Harrods logo
Glenfiddich logo
Famous Grouse logo
Coronation Street logo
Colmans logo
Cadbury logo
Bells logo
Porto Ramana logo
Lakeland logo
Dr Harris logo
Belazu logo
Red Rose Tea logo
Fortnum & Mason logo
Marks & Spencer logo
Burberry logo
Agent Provocateur logo
Kraken logo
Forest Gin logo
Royal Salute logo
Johnnie Walker logo