It’s not often we suggest you sniff the inside of a snare drum, but if you do on this occasion your nostrils will pick up the faint aroma of smoke-distilled Scottish whisky!
Essex boy Tim Broughton has built an admirable reputation for producing one-offs and short runs of handmade snare drums using far flung materials with remarkable provenance. This one, by comparison, is pretty conservative. It’s hewn from a barrel used to mature single malt whisky at the Ardbeg distillery on the Scottish island of Islay. What’s more, the Ardbeg barrel was originally used to age Bourbon whisky in the USA, hence the timber - American white oak.
Previously reviewed Provenance snares were constructed out of salvaged wood and metals from historic vehicles, ships and buildings. This time the timber comes from a single whisky barrel, the inside of which was charred to add the smoky flavour. This is retained by the darker inside of Tim’s stave shell, which is 14"x6¼" and quite thick at 12mm, although this is not excessively thick by stave standards.
The stave construction is superbly done, the light brown outside sealed with special oils. Bearing edges are 45 degrees with hand-rounded edges and hand-cut vintage style radiused and waxed snare beds. Top-quality hardware includes 16 strand Puresound Custom wires operated via a Nickelworks strainer and butt, plus eight chromed tube lugs and triple-flanged 2.3mm hoops.
It’s easy for the unlikely-provenance theme to overshadow the fact Tim’s drums are meant for business - they always sound good. Yes, this is again an expensive, one-off collector’s artefact. But having reviewed four Provenance drums now this may well be the tastiest.
It mixes the brightness of a hard and heavy shell with the warm and lustrous tone of mature oak. The carefully chosen Aquarian Studio X batter and Classic Clear resonant heads bring out the best of the drum while focusing it perfectly. With eight lugs (not 10) the drum is easy to tune and more free to breathe. No matter how hard you lay into it, it retains its full rich and fat snariness - a versatile stunner that anyone would be proud to own and to play.