The Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown, Scotland
The distilling of whisky has always been a craft, but The Balvenie claims the title of the most handcrafted of all Scottish whiskys. Everything from the farming of the barley to the making of the barrels is done by hand, in the traditional way. Perhaps that’s reason enough for hosting an event dedicated to craft-work. Earlier this month, six skilled artisans and a select group of whisky aficionados converged for ‘The Balvenie Craft Bar’. It was held at Zenith Interiors, in Melbourne.
We have a natural affinity with artisans who still ply their trade as they have done for decades. We’re extremely excited to be working with these craftspeople who share the same values as The Balvenie.
– Sam ‘Dr Whisky’ Simmons, The Balvenie Global Brand Ambassador
The official invitation to the event
Of course, an event like this needed a handcrafted sign as well. Andrew Shannon, from The Balvenie contacted us and asked for a sign that was made of wood, traditional in design, and most importantly, was hand-crafted.
Below are a few images of the sign being made.
We started by making a panel from two pieces of New Guinea Rosewood, source from our local lumberyard.
After applying a rubberised mask, the sign was sandblasted.
Originally, we had planned to follow-up the sandblasting by texturing the background areas with gouges. After seeing the how beautiful the grain turned out, however, we discussed the options with Andrew Shannon and decided to leave the raw sandblasted texture. The woodgrain had textured so beautifully, it would be a shame to gouge it away!
The sign panel was then cut down to size.
We smoothed the edges with the jointer
and cut the inverse corners with the band-saw
Geordie finished the edges on the belt sander, to remove any remaining saw marks.
Next, he peeled back the sandblast mask, revealing the smooth areas beneath.
A good once-over with a sanding block took care of any small splinters or dents on the raised areas of the sign.
Next, a cove edge was cut into the front.
And a chamfer (bevel) into the back edge of the sign
Now that the machining was finished, we embarked on the next step – staining the sign. In keeping with Australian pioneer tradition, we decided to use the natural colour of grass tree resin to give the panel a warm, deep-brown hue.
Being in rural New South Wales, it didn’t take long to find a grass tree on the property.
Look on the ground next to any grass tree and you will almost certainly find chunks of resin that have fallen off the trunk. Here is one such piece.
We collected a few pieces of resin in a jar.
Next, we added a few drams of pure Balvenie scotch. Just kidding, it was actually isopropyl alcohol.
Immediately, the resin started working its magic.
A good shake helped to accelerate the process.
Next, the stain was filtered.
Nice & thick!
Finally, we wiped away the excess stain.
And the sign was finished!
We shipped the sign to Melbourne to take its place at the Balvenie Craft Bar. Here are a few photos of the event:
And the finished products in use!
(image courtesy of Milk Bar Mag)
(image courtesy of Whisky & Alement)
The sign stands in the window of Zenith Interiors (image courtesy of Milk Bar Mag)