Bourbon is a whiskey made of mostly corn that is aged in charred oak barrels. Straight bourbon is aged at least two years, and the best bourbon is aged at least eight years. That's the conventional wisdom. But a new brand of bourbon made in Cleveland is aged only a few days! Tom Lix developed a procedure for engineering the distinctive taste of bourbon without waiting so long.
Bourbon is typically aged over a period of time in which fluctuating temperatures throughout the day move distilled liquor in and out of the pores of oak barrels. Lix uses pressure to speed this up. He pours distillate into a stainless steel vat and throws cut-up pieces of barrel in after it.
He wouldn't let me see his machinery — "intellectual property," he says — but it sounded something like an overloaded washing machine during the spin cycle. Each beat, Lix says, is roughly the equivalent of 24 hours in a stationary barrel. The agitation squeezes the wood like a sponge and the "aging" of each batch is done within a few days.
Other bourbon distillers use other methods to speed up the process, like blasting loud music to vibrate barrels. Lix's product is called Cleveland Whiskey, which some whiskey aficionado don't like, but he manages to sell as much as he can make. Read about the new type of bourbon at NPR. Link -via Boing Boing
(Image credit: David Kidd)