Bushmills crafts guitar using whiskey barrels

12th June, 2017 by Annie Hayes

Bushmills Irish Whiskey has partnered with Lowden Guitars to create a limited edition guitar made from whiskey barrels and ancient bog oak, retailing at £8,500 (US$10.8k).

George and Aaron Lowden meet Bushmills’ Coopers Chris and Alastair Kane

Crafted from three different wood types by George Lowden – the founder of Lowden Guitars – just eight ‘Bushmills x Lowden’ F-50 guitars have been made available for purchase.

Lowden personally selected Bushmills Irish Whiskey barrel wood for the 12th fret and back inlays, the bindings, rosette and head facings; ancient bog oak for the back and sides of the guitar; and sinker redwood for the soundboard.

It took more than 40 hours to design and build the first guitar, which also features a cross symbol formed of a cooper’s hammer and luthier’s chisel, and two lines intended to echo the look of the barrel’s staves.

A family business based in Northern Ireland; Lowden and his sons have crafted acoustic guitars for the likes of Gary Lightbody, Ed Sheeran and Eric Clapton.

He said: “We scour the world for the best tonewoods which are the real ‘stars’ of our guitars, determining how they sound, feel, and play, so my sons and I relished the opportunity to work with the Coopers to select the best Bushmills Irish Whiskey barrel wood for the guitar.

“The three woods used to create the guitar play an integral part in making the Bushmills x Lowden so unique. Bushmills Irish Whiskey barrel wood is steeped in over 400 years of whiskey making heritage and used throughout to perfectly compliment the other tone woods.

“The back and sides are made up of ancient bog oak to offer a mellow, warm sound and when paired with Sinker Redwood on the soundboard, it helps extract a clarity and sparkle from each and every note the guitar produces.”

At the Old Bushmills Distillery the Kane family has been coopering barrels for four generations. Similarly, Lowden has built acoustic guitars since 1974 and is now passing his guitar making skills onto his sons. The creation of the guitar is intended to celebrate those who pass their craft to the next generation.

“Lowden Guitars are famous for their workmanship and quality, and we are proud to join forces with George and his sons on this exciting collaboration which celebrates how specialist hand-crafted skills are not bought, but perfected over time and passed from generation to generation,” said Colum Egan, master distiller at Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

“At Bushmills, our coopers’ craft and skill are as fundamental to Irish whiskey making as the oak barrels they work with, ensuring we produce the same premium quality whiskey we began making over 400 years ago.

“It has been an honour to work with Lowden Guitars, who like us understand the important role wood has to play in making their guitars so unique.”

Scroll down to view a video of the creation of the limited edition guitars.

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