Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Whyte & Mackay, has announced that it is expanding its Scottish Oak Programme, across its entire estate of distilleries, to help establish the use of native oak as a quality raw material for the wider spirits industry.

Spearheaded by Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass, the programme aims to establish the use of Scottish Oak widely among whisky makers while addressing some of the historical challenges around working with Scottish Oak, such as porosity, quality, consistency of the wood and cost versus true value.

Whyte & Mackay Master Whisky Maker: Gregg Glass

Typically, casks used in the production of Scotch whisky are sourced from abroad, most commonly ex-Bourbon barrels from the USA, and European fortified wine casks from Portugal and Spain.

Inspired by his time exploring local sawmills with his Grandfather on the Black Isle, Gregg wanted to explore how to harness all that the local environment has to offer the whisky maker. He set about exploring the role Scottish Oak could play, and what it would take in terms of forestry management, and every skill required from harvest to cask creation.

When Gregg Glass joined Whyte and Mackay in 2016, he then began to implement the programme in earnest. He has developed partnerships with other organisations – including local landowning estates, sawmills and coopers – to create an initiative with the vision to one day be adopted by the Scotch Whisky industry.  

Comenting on the news, Greg Glass, said: “The Scottish Oak Programme seeks to inspire change within the Scotch whisky industry. We want to champion the potential home-grown oak offers the spirits industry, and the incredible diversity of flavour it offers the whisky maker. Our close relationships with industry partners mean we know the provenance of Scottish Oak and are even able to trace it right back to the individual tree. Through experimental whisky maturation and analytical trials, we can assess how the different variables – including growing conditions, drying and wood seasoning, oak type, coopering skills and heat treatment – can impact the flavour of the resulting whisky and there is a myriad of exciting flavour profiles to explore.”

In 2019, Whyte & Mackay’s experimental arm, Whisky Works, launched its first Scottish oak part-finished expression; King of Trees. The 10 Year Old blended Highland malt was created using wood from two 200 year old wind-felled Scottish oak tree to make one cask.

Whyte & Mackay, is set to announce a second Scottish oak release under its Fettercairn brand, later this year.

Posted by Steve Rush