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The SJC custom drum is made from 50-year old Balvenie whisky staves for Green Day drummer Tré Cool.

Charlie Heller
November 03, 2017

For the finale of Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain season 3, the host gets to bring together three of his favorite things: Scotch whisky, dedicated craftsmanship, and punk rock. The series, made in collaboration with Scotch whiskey distillery The Balvenie, centers around "the passionate folks that actually make amazing things by hand," which in this case, are those of SJC Drums founders Mike and Scott Ciprari, who are (raw) crafting a custom snare drum for Green Day drummer Tré Cool.

"Maknind's earliest instrument," says Bourdain of the drum, "is found in different forms in every corner of the globe," and, at this point, he's probably speaking from experience. What sets this one apart from possibly all of them, however, is the very show-appropriate material it's made form: Balvenie whisky staves, which, Bourdain says, come from wood that acted as a "cistern for very old, very good whiskey" for 50 years.

The team of brothers behind SJC review the wood with Bourdain and SJC woodworking team leader Louie Scalzo, who is pleasantly surprised to find that it's not the expected oak, but rather the sturdier Douglas fir he became familiar with back in his carpentry days. The SJC crew then takes Bourdain through each stage of the crafting, starting by cutting the wood into segments and assembling them into three octagons, on which the "whiskey line" is still visible, then stacking, gluing, and routing them into the final shape.

After spraying a protective coating, woodburner Jay Boucher spends somewhere between 10 and 12 hours adding ancient Greek gods and goddesses, Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, the Loch Ness Monster, and all of the drummer's tattoos into the wood (though an intricate montage cuts the viewing time down the time a bit). Towards the end of the process, Bourdain asks SJC's Mike Ciprari why they've been avoiding machine-aided steps that could cut the time down, and the answer sums it all up. "We really feel like it deserves to be touched by hand the entire process," he says of a drum like this, and that, (perhaps literally) "we want all hands on deck on this thing." Once Cool tries the drum himself he seems to agree, and toasts SJC with the same whiskey that his new snare drum will forever smell just like.
 

You can find previous episodes of The Balvenie’s Raw Craft With Anthony Bourdain at rawcraft.us, and start building your own Green Day-approved drum kit at sjcdrums.com.