For the Musikmesse we needed a very special instrument… why don’t you make one guitar out of a whisky cask?
Alex Muhlbauer knows very well my interest in single malt Scotch whisky so his idea just hit the right button to trigger the immediate start of this project.
With the help of Johannes Van Den Heuvel of Maltmaniacs and Serge Valentin of Whiskyfuntwo great and passionate experts on single malt whisky, I was put in touch with Nick Morgan of Diageo who has kind enough to send us a cask from the Lagavulin distillery.
I was in Islay on Hebridean Island a few miles off the coast of Scotland in the Spring of ’07 during the Feis Isle Festival, when the distilleries on the island welcome single malt enthusiasts from all over the world.
Lagavulin lies along the seashore in a beautiful small bay. It is one of the oldest Scottish distillery.
Its whisky has a powerful character, with strongly peated, maritime, medicinal complex tastes. The most popular Lagavulin is the sixteen years old whisky, aged in Oak casks.
So, one of these beautiful old casks arrived in our shop disassembled, and as soon as we open the package the unmistakely Lagavulin fragrance, mixed in with our usual wood fragrances, filled the whole shop.
After the wood was dried we started to work on the project to solve various problems due to the dimensions and condition of the wood. The heads, the two flat round sides of the cask, were the ideal solution for creating the back of a guitar body, to preserve the original surface with the characteristic painted brandings. There are just two of them so there was material enough for just 2 guitars.
Then the Staves were prepared to be glued together to create the tops, while there was wood enough to build an entire bass body.
The inner side of staves is toasted and charred with fire to present a carbonized layer that was planed flat just the necessary amount, leaving burned traces on the finished material.
The Oak is very heavy, pretty similar in consistancy to the European ash that we often use. We decided to multi-chamber the guitar, both on the inner sides of top and body, to make it more prone to vibrations and lighter in weight.
Once the body was shaped and sanded, we created the effect and the feel of old worn wood, with an oxidized patina and the effects of wharehouse dust and rust from the hoops.
To protect the wood we worked out a very special formulation of odorless oil mixed with a fabulous whisky: the Lagavulin 91-07 distillery edition that very probably was the original cask’s content.
This particular formula will keep the body preserved with the original whisky taste…
All hardware was antiqued to match the body finish style.
And here we are… ready to play.
Guitar-making and Whisky-making apparently are far apart worlds. But not in the Manne shop!!
We, just like they do at the distillery, started from very few and simple natural raw materials, and to get the desired result, we simply had to master the procedures and components, time and knowledge, controls and experiments.
Now time plays for both an important role, aging the whisky under the effect of its cask, while the instrument develops it’s tone also ultimately controlled by its player.
A tool for creating music should inspire and let the musician go deep into the essence of it to receive and offer to others all of its pleasure.
Tasting a superb whisky is a creative experience that incorporated the world of flavours and tastes, and these lead us to memories and sensations.
Both music and sensory experiences are something that transcends words and explanations… they are both universal languages. They can be very complex but at the same time essentially very simple: Just feel it!!!