You’ve got to hand it to him: Justin Vernon is still pretty much just some down-home dude from rural Wisconsin. Even the marketing campaign he’s attached to, Bushmills Irish Whiskey, has an angle for Vernon’s home town of Eau Claire, WI. Vernon and a Master Luthier named Gordy Bischoff, who’s built custom guitars in his Eau Claire shop for 37 years and created the guitar that Vernon used to write a little song called “Holocene,” collaborated to make a guitar from – you guessed it – Bushmills whisky barrels. “The 1608” would be gimmicky if it weren’t just so cool, and such a gorgeous piece of guitar. Four will be made, and one will be auctioned to benefit The Confluence Community Arts Center of Eau Claire, a downtown revitalization project.
The guitars aren’t just for looks, either: according to the eBay listing, “The nine-pound guitar features two separate pickup systems, an acoustic transducer and two passive electric pickups, and features a neck made from hard rock maple and Ebony. The finishing touches tie the entire collaboration together, featuring Bushmills bottle caps as the volume and tone control knobs, with a bit of Bushmills Irish Whiskey added to the guitar humidor in the case to enhance the aroma of the iconic brand.” Bushmills Irish Whiskey: For When the Music Isn't Intoxicating Enough.
Vernon caught a bit of flack when his work on the Bushmills “Since Way Back” ad campaign from the Avalanches, who named it that harshest breed of artistic hubris, selling out. The campaign is, however, intended to encourage art projects like “The 1608” in addition to selling a product – a bit more noble an enterprise than most advertising efforts. Cheers to that. Watch Vernon and Bischoff discuss the guitar and see some footage of the luthier in action below. [CoS]
And for good measure, watch the music video for "Holocene" below.