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Whisky Barrel Frames

The Concept

The idea of making picture frames from retired whisky barrels was sparked following an appeal from the whisky industry in 2006. A government sponsored survey had identified thousands of disused barrels at Scotland’s distilleries and the challenge was set to find alternative uses for these oak casks other than garden furniture or firewood. The company of Fintray Fine Framing (FFF), already well established in the use of reclaimed timber for frame production, responded to this challenge and after a period of trial and error developed a method of turning old barrel staves into unusual three-dimensional picture frames. FFF is the only company in the UK to produce these frames, having secured the Intellectual Property Rights on the designs in 2007. (See IPO Design No. 4004462 and 4004463). This certificate means that it is illegal to copy the FFF design and reproduce these frames.

The Production (Stave Frames)

Whisky barrels are made from oak and during their transformation into frames we aim to display this natural wood to its full potential. For convex stave frames the outside of the staves becomes the face of the frame. To prepare these staves they are shaped, cleaned and hoop rust marks removed where possible. The ends of the staves are often black from years of sitting on the ground and may also have residues of paint which has been used both as a sealant and as an identification mark by the distillery. A cooper can tell the age and usage of the barrel by the number of layers of paint which we retain for character and as an indicator of the barrel provenance. If you don’t want this then it is easily removed. Concave frames are equally challenging to work as the inside of most whisky barrels are charred or toasted to let the spirit permeate, giving the whisky its individual character and taste. This seared surface makes our task a bit trickier and messier as this charcoal has to be removed to leave a stable base of oak before use as a frame. For this reason the concave stave frame’s colour is more variable, some being darker than others, depending on the depth of penetration of the burn and our ability or desire to remove it. If you particularly want dark to black concave frames this can be done at no extra charge but may take a wee bit longer to produce. Occasionally barrels may not be charred, in which case the inside will be a natural oak colour.

Please remember that frames are made from a variety of barrel types ranging from small casks through puncheons and butts to the larger port pipes which can stand 56” high. Because of this variation we cannot guarantee that your frame will look identical to the one displayed on the website. In fact the very appeal of these frames is that each one has its own distinct characteristics obtained from its long history in the whisky trade.

Lid Frames

Lid frames are made from the edges of the barrel lids with cross pieces dowelled into place. These frames are ideal for A4 images either from the gallery or provided by you.


As whisky barrel stave frames are curved, glass is replaced by diffuse Styrene (plastic glass) which is flexible and robust having very similar optical properties to glass. The lid frames are suitable for glass but when shipping abroad Styrene is used as it is safer and lighter.

Frame Hanging

The frames are fitted with a strong hanging wire. For the longer panoramic frames it is recommended that you use two picture hangers as widely spaced as possible. The convex frames will hang with the four corners sitting against the wall protruding from the wall only the width of the curve, giving a pleasing three-dimensional effect. The concave frames will have the midpoint of the frame against the wall with the four corners protruding outwards and tend to draw the eye in to the image giving an equally pleasing three dimensional effect.

Multi Apertures

Although whisky barrel stave frames lend themselves best to panoramic photographs we also offer a service whereby customers’ photos can be included as in the examples shown (link). If you are interested in this service simply email us your photographs and we will advise on their suitability.

Barrel supplies

Scots whisky barrels usually start life in America or Spain where they are used for holding bourbon of sherry respectively. The barrels are constructed by highly skilled coopers from narrow planks of oak (staves) steamed to make them pliable enough to bend into the necessary curved shape. These are the staves used for our whisky barrel panoramic frames. Our barrels and staves are sourced from a variety of distilleries including Glenfiddich, Ardmore, Laphroaig as well as the Speyside Cooperage at Craigellachie.

Table of sizes

Photo size in inches Photo size in cms. Approx frame size in inches Approximate frame size in cms.
11 x 3.5 28 x 9 22 x 11 56 x 29
22 x 7 56 x 18 35 x 15 89 x 38
31 x 10 79 x 25 43 x 20 110 x 56
15 x 3.5 38 x 9 26 x 11 67 x 28
30 x 7 76 x 18 43 x 15 110 x 38
42 x 10 107 x 25 55 x 18 140 x 51