Good American bourbon was never easy to make. First a sour mash is fermented, distilled into a clear spirit and then it is place in oak barrels to age for at least three years, but the good stuff usually ages long enough to hit puberty, or even longer.
The ageing process is costly and time consuming, but Tom Lix of Cleveland, Ohio, thinks he has finally cracked it. He came up with a way of accelerating the ageing process down from years into a single week, Forbes reports. It is not a pipe dream either. Lix is already selling his first batch and he has shipped over 14,000 bottles so far. He claims he can produce 1,000 bottles per week and is already planning to expand.
Lix took his first steps distilling alcohol during his time in the US Navy some 40 years ago. While sailors and naval aviators were manning Yankee and Zulu stations off Vietnam, Lix was learning a thing or two about making “hooch on the side” from his commanding officer. He then became an entrepreneur in the software industry and eventually decided to start making booze again.
The key to coming up with his speedy ageing process is pressure. He found that whisky takes forever to soak into barrels, which he took apart for examination. He then took his ideas to an incubator lab in Ohio and developed his proprietary process to age whisky. He won’t to go into the finer details as they are trade secrets, but the process involves ageing the spirit in a normal barrel for six months. Then the barrel is cut up, processed and put into a stainless steel tank with the spirit. It is then exposed to a series of pressure differences, squeezing the juice in and out of the wood pores.
The whole process, minus the first six months, takes just a week to complete. The result is bourbon that looks and tastes like it has been aged for much longer. Lix put his product to the test, performing blind taste tests against Knob Creek whisky – between 60 and 70 percent of the people who took the test said they prefer Lix’s instant bourbon over the traditionally aged Knob Creek.