It seems like a new micro-distillery is opening up every week recently and each and every one that aspires to make bourbon faces the same problem: how can you afford to pay your operating expenses for the years it takes your bourbon to age?
Some get by selling un-aged whiskey, vodka, or gin while they wait for their bourbon to mature. Some sell other people’s bourbon until theirs is ready for the market. Some age their bourbon in smaller barrels to try to speed up the process. This year Tom Lix, the man behind Cleveland Bourbon Whiskey, decided to drastically speed up the aging process by using a secretive and patented pressure cooking system to age the bourbon dramatically faster.
First the whiskey is aged in traditional oak barrels for six months so that it meets the legal definition of bourbon. Then the whiskey is put in steel vats, the barrel is chopped up and added to the mix. It then goes through agitation and pressurization to force age the bourbon over the course of a week.
It is a process that has many in the bourbon world turning up their noses, but Lix compares his bourbon to Knob Creek and challenges doubters to put Cleveland up against Knob Creek in a blind taste test. So far results have been mixed on that test, you can listen to my podcast partner Charlie and I try it ourselves on Bottom’s Up #34, but with the global demand for whiskey rising every day and many distilleries struggling to keep up the traditional way, maybe Lix is onto something.
Let’s go ahead and give it a taste and find out for ourselves.