Two companies that share a passion for wood, Glenmorangie—maker of Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskies—and Renovo Hardwood Bicycles have teamed up to build custom bikes made from recycled whisky casks.
Wooden bicycles have been around since the early 19th Century, but Renovo’s founder, Ken Wheeler, has found a relatively new source: used whisky casks.
Glenmorangie uses American White Oak casks that previously held Bourbon just twice to make its Scotch whisky. After the second fill, the barrel that would otherwise have been discarded is shipped to Portland, Oregon, where Renovo is based.
Cycling Meets Recycling
Once in the Renovo workshop, the casks are kiln-dried, sanded and smoothed before being crafted into the finished hollow frame. The natural curve of the barrel is reflected in the frame’s downtube. It takes 15 staves and about 20 hours of work to make each Glenmorangie Original, which weighs 18 pounds.
Before accepting the wood (the company declined to say how much it was paying, if anything, for the barrels), Renovo made sure the wood would hold up as a bicycle frame.
“Wood is not all created equal,” a company spokesman said. “An engineering assessment was carried out because [any wood] has to meet our standards.”
Meanwhile, Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve, announced it would invest $45 million in its Louisville, Kentucky, cooperage. The new equipment will be concentrated in the Heading and Staving departments and are designed to cut operating costs, as well as the jobs of 70 hourly workers.
New American Oak whiskey barrels are priced at $275–$295 a piece, according to Kentucky Barrels, LLC.
The Glenmorangie Original bicycle will be available in three sizes starting at about $6,950. Each bicycle will be numbered.
Glenmorangie’s collaboration with Renovo is the second in its “Beyond the Cask” series, which the 174-year-old distillery says celebrates the casks in which Glenmorangie Original is matured by repurposing the staves in innovative ways. Last year, the company created the world’s first Scotch whisky sunglasses with a British eyewear designer.