Barrels of Art

In an unusual commission, the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland approached design studio johnson banks to create a series of artworks illustrating the length of time it takes for their single malt whiskies to mature in the barrel. Following on from a similar initiative last year (where five different designers were each given a barrel to work with), johnson banks looked to the function of each part of the barrel to make a series of sculptures based on the five differently aged Glenfiddich whiskies. The results are on show this week in Glasgow.

In an unusual commission, the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland approached design studio johnson banks to create a series of artworks illustrating the length of time it takes for their single malt whiskies to mature in the barrel. Following on from a similar initiative last year (where five different designers were each given a barrel to work with), johnson banks looked to the function of each part of the barrel to make a series of sculptures based on the five differently aged Glenfiddich whiskies. The results are on show this week in Glasgow.

The above piece recreates a cross-section of a tree with a dozen rings, suggesting the way the whisky’s flavour matures over time. The sculpture is made from six separate barrels and weighs a quarter of a ton.

For the 15 year-old whisky, johnson banks used the insides of the 32 wooden staves that, when carefully crafted, shaped and bound together, form a whisky barrel. The type was sand-blasted out of the charred wood.

This “impossible barrel” is made from a series of the metal hoops that bind and enclose the staves of the barrels together.

The volume of liquid in each barrel decreases over the years of the whisky’s maturation (nearly half of the contents evaporates). This missing whisky is often referred to as the “angel’s share”. Here, the phrase “For 21 years we take a share” is chopped out of the top of the barrel (shown above and below).

For the piece based on the oldest Glenfiddich, the 30 year old, johnson banks created an image of day and night on the inside of a lid.

The Glenfiddich Barrel Art Exhibition is on until November 27 at the Studio Warehouse, 100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow G3 8QG (12 – 5pm daily; 7pm on the 27th). Admission is free. See swg3.tv for more details.

Creative director: Michael Johnson
Design and art direction: Michael Johnson, Pali Palavathanan, Owen Evans
Customised typography: The Foundry
Modelmaking: Wesley West
Photography: Kevin Summers

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