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Issue 71 - Adventures in wood

Whisky Magazine Issue 71
April 2008

 

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Adventures in wood

Ian Buxton looks at some innovative uses for casks and washbacks when the whisky industry has finished with them.

The distilling industry likes to promote its environmental credentials and lays heavy emphasis on the use of waste materials, such as draff and pot ale. But distilleries use a lot of wood, in casks and in wash backs. What happens to this when its working life is done?

Well, the classic example is that old casks are taken off to be used as planters or, more imaginatively, made into garden furniture.

You can see a typical selection at the Speyside Cooperage, handily located between Craigellachie and Glenfiddich distilleries, where it has also built giant picnic huts for visitors to shelter from the rain. Another typical garden furniture producer is Kilgraney Railway Sleepers (guess what it used before it discovered old barrels) of Cotgrave near Nottingham (www.kilgraney.com).

Most garden centres carry a few old barrels for use as planters – but we want to be more imaginative. Traditionally, relatively coarse outdoor furniture has been made out of old casks, but two firms are making finer pieces that can be used indoors as well.

David Geary-Aston has many years experience in producing articles from reclaimed materials. Now he has turned that expertise into a business, Oak Barrel Furniture (www.oakbarrel-furniture.co.uk), which specialises in reclaiming spent casks and creating attractive chairs, tables, wine racks and even a food smoker. The website features a DIY guide to constructing your own patio chair and table.

The idea of a wooden smoker intrigued me, so I question...

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