What’s with the black tree?

If you’ve ever been on a whisky distillery tour you may have noticed an abundance of black plant life around the grounds, especially right outside the warehouse. If so, did you wonder why?

the science bit

With striking green leaves and undamaged bark, the trees look as if they have been delicately blowtorched like the top of a carefully crafted crème brûlée. Completely healthy, an invasion of a natural fungus called Baudoinia compniacensis thrives in areas rich with evaporating alcohol and sticks to the surrounding trees.

This is relevant as when whisky matures around 2% of the contents of each cask evaporates (known as the “Angel’s Share”) and the fungus consumes the alcohol, causing a chemical reaction that results in a fine black powder coating the surface of the bark. This is incredibly common and you’ll find a collection of black plants near the warehouse of any distillery you visit.

Less share for the angels.

ominous black trees

Legend has it that taxmen would look for black trees when searching for illicit distillers. Often hard to find, the PeatReekers’ bothies were built deep within the forest, out of sight and careful to avoid the prying eyes of the taxman. However, the surrounding trees would blacken and stick out as casks of contraband whisky lay, waiting to be transported to nearby taverns for consumption.

This struck us as being a unique slice of history and so we decided to adopt the solo black tree as our logo to pay homage to the PeatReekers, a group of rebels who moved stealthily leaving nothing behind except for the blackening of nearby trees. We designed our tree to be symmetrical, with a contemporary feel that sits proudly on the wax stamp of every bottle of Double Standard.

Next time you pick up a bottle of PeatReekers, be sure to look for the black tree.

Detail of the wax stamp on the bottle.

blacked out bottle

We decided to continue the blackened aspect and opted to screen print each bottle. The black colour fades into a smoky pattern half way down the bottle, revealing the beautiful amber glow of our whisky. The pattern resembles a thick fog of burning peat and flares up when lit on a backbar. Every aspect of the bottle is black including the natural wooden cork and seal. There’s something that can be said about the solidarity of these trees, we’re just borrowing a few elements.

We continued this style and implemented the smoke pattern onto the outer packaging using spot uv varnish that brings out an incredible texture. The text is stamped on with white botched foil, adding another layer of character. Finally, the tin lid is debossed with the tree logo and placed on top of the packaging to enclose the bottle inside. Bottle, seal and packaging all carry the blacked out theme that links back to the solo trees that were the only sign of illicit distillation left behind by the PeatReekers. We thought it was rather fitting to include and is our nod to Scotland’s original whisky makers.

Detail of the Peatreekers emblem on the top of the case.

So, next time you’re at a distillery or find yourself trekking through a remote woodland make sure to keep an eye out for black trees…

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