Whyte & Mackay teams up with environmental artistBy Alice Brooker
Glasgow-based producer Whyte & Mackay has partnered with artist Rob Mulholland to mark the expansion of its Scottish Oak Programme.
Whyte & Mackay’s Fettercairn Distillery is expanding its Scottish Oak Programme, an initiative to locally source oak to mature Scotch whisky.
The campaign expansion involves the replanting of an ancient forest, as the distillery looks to produce its own single estate, Scottish oak-matured malt whiskies, and this will be marked with a new sculpture created by ‘acclaimed land artist’ Rob Mulholland.
The replanting of Fettercairn Forest, which currently holds 13,000 sessile quercus petraea and quercus robur oak saplings planted next to the distillery, will be carried out with hopes of developing ‘a sustainable future for responsibly sourced Scottish oak’.
The sculpture is expected to be installed in September this year, with plans to develop further installations across the forest and estate as the Scottish Oak Programme evolves.
Mulholland said: “The thought of this forest emerging from the ground in this beautiful setting – one of the most fertile areas of Scotland – over the next century is incredibly exciting, particularly when you consider all the tangible benefits that will come with the creation of a thriving, wildlife rich environment: from sustainable land management to the clear impact such a beautiful place can have on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“My aim is to deepen the emotional connection between the people and this captivating land and create something that will still have relevance in 200 years when these trees will stand proud and tall – a legacy that can stand for even longer.”
The future of Fettercairn
Whyte & Mackay’s master whisky maker, Greg Glass, first conjured the idea having devoted himself to exploring the inclusion of Scottish oak in whisky making at Fettercairn.
“As a whisky maker this project was a fantastic opportunity to explore the flavour potential of Fettercairn, incorporating all that the local area has to offer, utilising our local water, barley and now Scottish oak,” said Glass.
“This wide-ranging project is one with a vision for the future and is supporting multiple objectives across environmental responsibility, social purpose, forest and land management, supporting our local economy and skills, with the creation of unique, compelling whiskies.”
Glass conducted bench trials with wind-felled and responsibly sourced Scottish oak, as well as extensive tests and experimentation with experts across a variety of industries.
The distillery intends to release the first commercially available Fettercairn Scottish Oak bottling next year, made with Scottish oak ‘from around its home in the foothills of the Cairngorms’.
Glass added: “We’re laying down the roots for the future for our continued ethos as whisky makers and our passion and responsibility for the local environment. The Fettercairn forest is another step in the journey of whisky making at this incredible distillery.”