We love a good collaboration, and if the collaborators seem to make for the unlikeliest of teams, so much the better. What greater opportunity for creativity and innovation than when two designers or companies approach a project from completely different backgrounds?
Behold the latest in luxurious, collaborative curiosities: the world’s first bicycle made from whisky casks. With optional specifications that earn it a price tag in the $6,950 to $11,450 (USD) range, the Glenmorangie Original is for the most ardent lovers of cycling — and, of course, fine whiskies.
While a whisky cask bike perhaps sounds like a gimmick that threatens to border on kitsch, this line is a thing of beauty. Renovo, pioneer of the hollow hardwood bicycle frame, has partnered with Glenmorangie, creators of Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, to create a line of timeless bicycles crafted from Glenmorangie casks.
Inspired by the shape of the whisky cask staves, the Renovo team has crafted a down tube and top tube that echo the trapezoidal shape of the stave and arcing curve of the cask. These shapes, the designers claim, are integrated into the frame with the same smooth-riding hollow frame technology as all Renovos and “longbow” seatstays, engineered to further tame tough roads.
Like every Renovo bike, the Glenmorangie Original owes much of its engineering to the versatility of wood. The company, after all, was founded on a belief in wood and its excellent engineering properties. “Historically, wood bikes came before metal bikes,” write Ken and Stuart Wheeler, the company’s founders. ” …Wood is unruly, but we’ve learned how to make it behave in this unusual application, and it’s proven to be superb as a frame material and well worth our effort.”
Andy MacDonald, manager of the Glenmorangie Highland distillery, is himself an active cyclist with a special passion for wood, so perhaps this collaboration isn’t as surprising as it would first seem. These casks in question, he explained in a recent interview, are crafted from fine American white oak. While other distilleries use casks repeatedly, Glenmorangie has a strict policy of never using a cask more than twice. This ensures that the wood does not diminish in its impact on the whisky’s taste. But this also means the potential for waste, which Glenmorangie is cleverly avoiding with this collaboration — a preservation project, of sorts.
“For me,” says MacDonald, “it’s a match made in heaven to have a bicycle made from ex-Glenmorangie casks, alongside a small proportion of sapele wood…Thanks to the wood, it’s really sleek, and the craftsmanship stands out immediately.”
The Glenmorangie Original by Renovo sports relatively wide tires for a road bicycle, powerful disc brakes, and 22-speed drivetrain. This bicycle is where vintage meets the future, a rustic but refined homage to craftsmanship and the versatility of hardwood.