Design Brief

Our brief was reasonably simple, our clients were looking for a new bar to fully display their whisky collection and open up the room without interfering with its original architectural features. They had also been to visit Glengoyne distillery and expressed an interest in oak as the main timber. As a working hotel the alterations would have to be done within the month of January giving a small window to complete the project, which also included fitting a 100m2 of solid oak floor through the bar and dining room as well as a full redecoration. From a logistics point of view we organised a local building company to carry out the floor installation and the required ancillary works, although we supplied the flooring.

The Process

With oak being the chosen timber, we were fortunate to have recently purchased a large oak tree from the farm next to our workshop in Ruskie. With the final drawings agreed and the cutting list completed we set about processing the oak. Once we had sufficient stock cut, we loaded the kiln and turned it on. After eight weeks it had a moisture content of around 8%, which was suitable for a centrally heated room. The kiln dried oak was then moved to the workshop and slowly converted into the finished bar, before being dismantled, transported and fitted into Poppies.

The Bar

We first of all built a platform to raise the bar up 180mm, giving it an elevated and commanding position within the room. The bar was designed with a large sweeping curve from the entrance doorway to the edge of the bay window seat. The front of the bar was lined in ship lap oak strips with 4 curved horizontal straps giving it the look of a large whisky barrel. The back wall was panelled with a combination of solid oak and mirrored panels. The display area was required to carry at least 100 whiskies as well as the usual spirit collection, so we fitted oak brackets to support 12mm glass shelves for this purpose. At the side of the bar closest to the restaurant we created an area for the coffee making equipment, cups saucers etc. The electronic till, sound system control box, telephone and all the lighting control cables were brought into the unit next the bar entrance, keeping all the control systems in one place for ease of use.

Above the panelling we fitted a large lighting gantry containing 21 x 50w angled low voltage lights and 5 coloured LED display light sets on three circuits to allow maximum adjustment for mood lighting. The lights were positioned in the centre of each of the rear wall panels, one directly over the shelves and one to the front of the shelves. The effect of the light cascading through the glass shelves and coloured bottles, combined with the reflections from the mirror panels was both fascinating and effective.

Below the bar top we fitted a curved local stone work top; this was cut and finished by hand by Tradstocks stone masons with templates we supplied. We fitted 2 stainless steel under-mount sinks for easy cleaning of its surface and maximum space for glasses to be washed and dried.
Glass storage was in a cabinet to the left of the sink giving an efficient working set up with maximum use of the limited space available.

We constructed a small oak plinth for the 3 fridges which sat against the back wall to raise them to just below the rear curving worktop which mirrored the front curve. On either side of the fridges we constructed a large 80 bottle wine rack and a smaller bottle rack. To finish we lined the window seat to match the bar and fitted a large natural edged Elm mirror opposite the bar with Duncan Bar engraved on it in memory of John’s father. Everything was finished with at least five coats of Danish oil with the bar top getting around ten.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm — Ralph Waldo Emerson