Cleveland Whiskey is weeks or maybe only days away from launching. They are awaiting "gov’mint" approval on their labels and a few other technicalities. Bottles are ready and everything appeared in place as the noisy distillation process was underway.
What founder/CEO Tom Lix has created is nothing short of a bourbon whiskey miracle. We're talking the equivalent of the invention of fire in the whiskey making business. Lix says, "We've created a process where the normal 10-12 year aging process in oak barrels is achieved in days." The resulting whiskey has a darker, more caramelized color and deeper flavor than the Knob Creek we compared and sampled — in the interest of science, of course.
“Whiskey making begins with grains; corn, barley, wheat and rye. Bourbon consists of 51% corn. As the grains are boiled, the starches and sugars break down. They’re now ready for fermentation with yeast. At this point, the liquid would have eight-to-ten-percent alcohol before going into the 132 gallon still, where the process of concentrating alcohol by separating it from the water occurs. In the reflux column it further separates the bad alcohol — methanol — from good alcohol, resulting in a Bourbon mash. The aging process in an oak barrel continues the concentration of oils and flavor. Up to 80% of the flavor comes from the wood. Once inside the barrels, there are heating and cooling cycles occurring within every 24-hour period that change the pressure in the barrel. Our pressurized aging process replicates the same heating and cooling process; it reduces the typical aging period of 9-12 years to a few days.” Lix stated.
Lix pointed out that every unavoidable click we heard every few seconds was recreating what occurs in an oak barrel over a 24-hour period. They start with a young, six-month-old Bourbon and put it through their version of a newfangled flux capacitor, a contraption that applies concentrated pressure in a vacuum with pieces of new American charred oak and after a few days, “voilà,” you have yourself some Cleveland Whiskey. Actually, no hocus-pocus is necessary — just pure science. I'm not claiming to be a scientist, although my son is, but I know science when I see, hear and taste it. And who doesn’t like science that leads to a fine-tasting, dark Bourbon?
According to Lix, “As far as we know, there’s no one else doing this in the world. We hope to distribute to faraway emerging markets such as China and India. And, the word is, the Russians have grown fond of whiskey, too. We think our process not only gives us a whiskey with fuller flavor but also a larger range of flavors.”
If all goes well, we’re scant weeks away from finding Cleveland Whiskey in our favorite bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Be ready: Cleveland Whiskey is coming sooner than you think.