New Eight-Hour Bourbon Is Not for the Old Fashioned

One enterprising bourbon maker says it can speed up the distilling process and complete years of aging in just a few hours.
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Alcoholic Whiskey Bourbon in a Glass with Ice

Alcoholic Whiskey Bourbon in a Glass with Ice

Photo by: Brent Hofacker

Brent Hofacker

Kentucky bourbon is all the rage these days. You’d think that would be nothing but good news for distillers — but they’re finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

Because bourbon is generally given years to age in wooden barrels, even if makers were to ramp up production now, the new supply wouldn’t be available for a long time to come.

Aging in charred white oak barrels is considered essential to bourbon’s taste and hue. The liquor’s process of expansion and contraction over time, as seasons and temperatures change, imparts richness and complexity. Some whiskey experts cite five to 10 years of aging as the sweet spot for better bourbons, depending on how it has been aged.

You can’t rush flavor, the thinking has always gone. But wait … can you?

Terressentia, a South Carolina distiller that has expanded its operations into Kentucky, says it can replicate bourbon’s usual years-long aging process using a chemical process that takes only eight hours to complete, NPR reports.

Four years of aging in eight hours? Traditionalists scoff, of course. But Terressentia says its method — which, according to its website, combines “ultrasonic energy” and “oxygenation” to finish “chemical reactions that failed to complete in the distillation stage” — results in improved taste as well as  “cleaner spirit with reduced alcohol ‘bite’ and great mouth feel.”

The proof is probably in the drinking, and Bourbonblog.com founder Tom Fischer, who presumably knows his bourbon, told NPR that, in a blind taste test of five or six “major bourbons,” he ranked Terressentia’s whiskey “either number one or number two … right around the top.”

Whoa. Have these guys really figured out a way to speed up the effects of time? Now if only they could find a way to slow it down.

Here are some bourbon recipes for those feeling wistful for the whiskey.

Photo courtesy of iStock
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