At Hawkhead Whisky Smoked in the west of Scotland we use only aged whisky casks from Scottish distilleries in our smokery.
Scotland is renowned for its rich larder – with whisky at the heart of its global reputation. Contained in every drop of Scotch is a 500-year-old story of malting, distilling, ageing and skill. And from Viking times to the present day, foods preserved through salting and smoking have been a staple of both winter survival and royal banquets in Scotland.
By using only aged out whisky casks – each one having serviced the whisky industry for several decades – and a smoking process that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years, we capture the heritage and flavour of Scotland in everything we produce.
The wood in our smokehouse has been on a long journey to get to us. It started life as an ancient American Oak tree, harvested, cut, then shaped into casks by skilled coopers. Each cask was then charred on the inside and used in Bourbon production, before being recycled and shipped to one of Scotland’s world-famous distilleries.
Whisky casks, which come in three sizes – barrels, hogheads and butts – are often reused several times by distilleries, and as each batch of whisky takes an average of around eight years to age, a cask may be around 70 years old by the time it reaches the end of its useful life in whisky production.
At this point it would usually be chopped down for use as a garden planter, but that’s where we step in, rescuing these time-served veterans and putting them to excellent use in our smoker.
When we get them, the whisky deeply, visibly ingrained in the wood, and as we break them down and smoke them, the layers and years of flavour are released especially for us.