Cleveland Whiskey distiller, Tom Lix, has developed a proprietary aging process that only takes about a week.
Traditionally, good bourbon takes at least six years to reach maturity. But what if the aging process could be condensed using some new technology? That’s what’s driving a new bourbon-maker called Cleveland Whiskey. Based out of its namesake city, the company’s premise is to synthetically age alcohol at a much faster pace using a controlled chemical process. Instead of taking years, Cleveland Whiskey is aged to maturity in just about a week.
Founded by former marketing executive Tom Lix, Cleveland Whiskey has basically been an overnight success. Since March 1, the company has sold more than 14,000 bottles, which works out to about 1,000 bottles week—not bad for a small-batch brewer. Lix says he plans on producing 7,000 cases of Cleveland Whiskey this year, before ratcheting things up to 20,000 cases in 2014.
The process involves highly pressurized vats, along with pieces of charred oak to infuse the bourbon with its signature character. “I took apart a couple of used barrels, and it didn’t seem like the whiskey soaked very deep,” Lix told Forbes. “So I started experimenting with pressure to get the spirit to soak deeper into pore structure.”
The spirit ages in a whiskey barrel like normal for the first six months of its life. Then it is deposited in stainless steel tanks. Meanwhile, the barrel it aged in is cut up, processed, and put into the tank as well. Within the tank, the spirit is agitated, and undergoes a series of differences in pressure to squeeze in and out of the wood pores. “Like a sponge,” Lix said. Once deposited in the tank, the whiskey takes about a week to create. [Forbes]
The big question is how does it taste? Cleveland Magazine gave it extraordinary praise:
It’s dark in the bottle, a gorgeous honey-amber hue in a glass. The aroma was rich and complex. It had none of the bite or harsh alcoholic “heat”—though it is 100 proof—that usually comes with young (and therefore inexpensive) whiskey. The mouthfeel is round and silky. An added splash of water smooths it out even more. This is comparable to a very fine high-end bourbon. And it will sell for a fraction of the price. [Cleveland Magazine]