Fettercairn Whisky: New Land Sculpture Marks Replanting Of Ancient Scottish Forest. 'FOREST FLOW' expresses a bold and responsible future for enlightened whisky making
Published Date: 17th November 2021
A flowing and shimmering new sculpture representing life, growth and transformation emerged in the rolling foothills of the Cairngorms today as Scottish land artist Rob Mulholland unveiled his latest creation at Fettercairn Distillery.
Created from 800 metres of 12mm round recycled stainless steel bars - 3,200 individual pieces in total, the inspiration behind the piece - FOREST FLOW - is a ground-breaking project 10 years in the making that has seen tens of thousands of oak saplings planted on the land next to the Fettercairn Distillery on the 8,500-acre Fasque Estate. This future- focused project will establish a new land management vision for the next 200 years and challenge whisky making convention by providing responsibly sourced and managed local wood to mature whisky in - ultimately enabling Fettercairn distillery to craft single estate whiskies.
Set on a clear pool of pure spring water from a natural source only a few hundred yards away, 'FOREST FLOW' draws its inspiration from the endless cycle of growth as saplings draw water and nutrients from the ground and circulate them to create vibrant life. Looking out to the new Forest - highlighting the deep and inextricable relationship we all have with nature - this bespoke piece of art has been created to fully harmonise with its environment through the depiction of essential whisky making ingredients – water, locally grown barley and the wood for maturation. The sculpture also celebrates the unique water-cooling ring on the stills at Fettercairn, allowing only the finest vapours to rise creating the purest spirit.
"Fettercairn Distillery is embedded in the landscape. It draws its raw materials from its natural surroundings - the water, barley and the future oak forest - which are all within sight of the distillery. I wanted to capture all these elements in my sculpture. I was inspired after seeing the water flowing into the distillery from the nearby well, filling the mash tuns and pouring over the outside of the stills - a constant sense of movement and life as the water is circulated over the stills and then naturally cooled and re-circulated.
This is the same water that sustains the newly planted Fettercairn forest and nourishes the surrounding landscape, a visceral connection between the land and the distillery. I wanted to capture this life-giving flow in my sculpture and convey the close relationship that the whole whisky process has with the natural environment. I imagined the water flowing over the still, instantly solidifying into metal to create an organic sculptural form as it emerges from a pool of crystal clear water, as if some unseen alchemical process had transformed the flowing water into solid steel. On the outer edges a scattering of oak leaves form in a circle symbolising the newly planted Fettercairn forest.
The reflective clear pool captures the mirror image of the sculpture and simultaneously captures the reflection of the sky and changing light as time passes by. Time is a key element in creating whisky and in creating sculpture, a synergy of craft that permeates both practices. I hope that my work conveys both crafts and harnesses our respect for the setting and natural environment at Fettercairn," said Glaswegian sculptor Rob Mulholland.
Stewart Walker, Distillery Manager at Fettercairn said: "We love the idea that Rob's stunning work will keep watch over the mighty oaks in our sustainable forest 150 - 200 years from now. We are extremely proud when we look at Rob's artistic endeavours - the sculpture has movement, texture and its shadows and reflections are constantly changing. It feels totally in keeping with its environment and for our whisky making philosophy. We are confident it will become iconic on our regional landscape - loved by visitors and the local community alike."
The Fettercairn Forest project is led by whisky maker Gregg Glass, who has conducted numerous trials with wind-felled and responsibly sourced Scottish oak as well as extensive tests and experimentation in collaboration with experts across different industries. The Distillery has already laid down whiskies in different types of Scottish Oak cask and plans to release the first commercially available Fettercairn Scottish Oak bottling next year. The sculpture is due to be incorporated into the Distillery visitor experience from 2022.