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Piper serenades whisky to enhance its flavour

The band Project Smok has joined teamed up with whisky brand Wee Smoky for the project.

A piper has been serenading casks of whisky in a musical bid to enhance the flavour of the drink.

Ali Levack, frontman of Scottish “neo-trad” band Project Smok, has joined forces with whisky brand Wee Smoky to release a single in harmony with a new bottle.

The partnership began when Project Smok auctioned naming rights to their new single in a creative way to tackle loss of income due to cancellation of live gigs during the pandemic.

Wee Smoky won the auction, and will celebrate the release of the song “Wee Smoky” with its own release of 550 special edition bottles, with £1 from each bottle going to the band.

Project Smok
Project Smok said the initiative was a dream come true (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Levack, who was BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of 2020, played the whistle to the casks to enhance the flavour, a process known as “sonic-aging.”

The musician, from Dingwall, said: “Playing to whisky casks was a new experience. I loved being part of the whole process, from playing our music to the whisky while it aged to drinking it while listening to our recorded song.

“The song and the whisky go very well together. When everything froze in March last year, we didn’t think we’d be in the same position more than 12 months later.

“We’ve had to think outside the box as to how we can generate income until we can start playing live music again.

“Auctioning off naming rights to a song was an idea we didn’t think would work, but it has ended up with us having our own whisky named after us, which is a dream come true.”

A QR code on the bottles will take drinkers directly to “Wee Smoky” on Spotify.

Wee Smoky’s founder, Edinburgh-based Rory Gammell, said: “Music is part of everything we do. Our whisky is best enjoyed with music so it was natural to experiment to see how music could enhance the flavour.

“My dream was for Project Smok to headline our launch party. Unfortunately, those plans were put on hold. Nobody embodies the spirit of our brand quite like them.

“They’re non-conformist and I couldn’t think of a better example of Scottish flair – they’re a remarkable band with a unique sound.

“They’re making people think differently about trad music, and we’re making people think differently about whisky. It’s the perfect match.”

The concept of “sonic-aging” stems from the 18th and 19th centuries, when vibrations in oak casks in transit across the seas were considered essential to the ageing process of liquors including whisky.

It is thought that by playing music to casks, such vibrations can be recreated, enhancing the flavour of batches by accelerating the way liquor reacts with the wood.

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