When whisky is bottled, poured out and ultimately imbibed, it leaves behind it a whole lot of oak, in barrel form, which can sadly go to waste.
Though most Scottish distillers will use a barrel up to three times, every good barrel reaches its day, and though it may have provided decades of loyal service, it’s an expensive thing to have to discard. Now, however, old barrels are being given new life, thanks to Glenmorangie’s “Beyond the Cask” program, which repurposes the whisky-drenched oak into sweet new products, in this case: surfboards.
The Glenmorangie Original surfboard represents a partnership made in heaven–heaven being the perfect wave, of course. Glenmorangie, a distillery in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland, selected Grain Surfboards to be a part of this cool project. Grain Surfboards is based out of Maine and prides itself on using the latest in 3D modelling technology and time-honoured woodworking techniques to build beautiful boards. The project repurposed the wood directly from casks used in the ageing process to create a surfboard that has all the character of a Glenmorangie single malt whisky.
The boards each consist of twelve staves from the whisky barrels—each of which is made of American white oak. The barrels are only used twice for making Glenmorangie’s delicious spirit, but that still leaves plenty of character in the wood so that each board is unique and stunning. The interior framework, an area where other board makers use marine plywood, has been delicately crafted from staves that have been flattened out by the surfboard maker, while the outside is a locally sourced cedar, with a strip down the middle made from a veneer of the barrels. The staves are book-matched to really bring out the beauty of the grain.
Though a thing of great beauty, these things go damn fine in the green room, too. During a lunchtime session in Bondi last week, we were lucky enough to take one of these beauties out into the swell to pound some froth on one of the most expensive boards we’d ever handled. Though covering the intricate grain with sticky wax seemed counter-intuitive, the beards were prepped and as ready to look great on a wave as they do on a wall. Balanced and just heavy-enough, this is a special-occasion board that goes wherever you point it, and was well-suited to the few big waves we were lucky enough to catch.
The Glenmorangie X Grain surfboards are limited edition, made to order, and sell for a handsome USD$5,500.