One of Freddie Main's creations
One of Freddie Main's creations

Former teacher turning barrels into whisky bars

A former teacher has had a change of career as he now creates whisky bars for the stars, including Outlander’s Sam Heughan.

Freddie Main, a former design and technology teacher for more than 20 years switched paths during lockdown to launch Oak & Black, which specialises in making bespoke mini bars from old whisky barrels for clients including the Outlander star and former Scotland rugby captain Greig Laidlaw.

The East Lothian based company, which has just taken on its first placement through the Government’s Kickstart Scheme to help young people get into work, hand-picks the barrels from a cooperage to recreate a mini bar with a full middle shelf, smart lighting system, a built-in magnetic bottle opener, a hand-stamped personalised metal tag and unique barrel number to trace it back to its origins.

Other products made from reclaimed materials include bottle racks, engraved barrel end wall hangers, whisky boards for drams, gin blocks and bespoke products including signage, tables and coasters for a new coffee company owned by former Scotland international Jim Hamilton and whisky barrel display planters for Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh.

Before launching the company, Freddie, who has always had a passion for woodwork, was assistant headmaster and design and technology teacher at Merchiston Castle School, and also part of the Scotland Touch Senior Mixed World Cup Team. Following the tournament in Malaysia 2019, he contracted an illness that led to post viral fatigue, which he continues to manage.

During lockdown last year, a period when his energy was beginning to improve having been signed off work since January 2020, he decided to create a whisky barrel bar for one of his friends.

Due to the positive feedback and orders which followed, Freddie decided to leave teaching and focus on his dream to make products from reclaimed wood and give them a new lease of life, which has allowed him to manage his own time and energy more effectively day-to-day.

One of Freddie Main’s creations

Freddie, who is also a life coach, @thesilverfoxcoach, will be talking about his entrepreneurial and inspiring story at an online business networking event, entitled Love Your Business, on June 24, with tickets HERE.

Freddie said: ‘Creating barrel bars for clients is a dream come true for me – it is something I’ve wanted to do for years but didn’t have the time or energy.

‘Lockdown gave me that time to make my first one and really assess whether it was a viable business model or not and I’m delighted that it’s definitely going in the right direction, especially securing orders for people like Sam Heughan, Jim Hamilton and Cask88, and taking on my first member of staff, which have given me a real boost.

‘I’m looking forward to sharing my story about going from an employee to being a self-employed business owner and following my dreams at the next Love Your Business networking event – it’s a journey I love sharing and hope it inspires people to do something they are passionate about and that makes them feel happy.’

Love Your Business Networking Club, which was set up in 2018 by Michelle Brown from the eponymous PR agency, is designed to help bring businesses together to share contacts, referrals and support each other, which has been a major focus over the last 15months and a life-line for many attendees.

Michelle said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Freddie Main from Oak and Black as a speaker at this month’s Love Your Business online networking club. His story about leaving the teaching profession after 20yrs and launching his own company during lockdown and doing something he loves, is hugely inspiring.’