Christopher Null has a very interesting piece in Wired (April 8, 2015). Behold:
“If Bryan Davis has his way, that’s all about to be totally upended, sacrilege or not. Davis has come up with a method of producing spirits that taste like they’ve been aging in the barrel for 20 years, but his process only takes six days. Davis doesn’t accelerate the aging process like so many of the methods that have been tried in the past. Rather, he shortcuts it by taking new distillate and running it through his proprietary chemical reactor. Davis’s device forces the creation of the same key chemical compounds that give a well-aged spirit its unique character…” (read more at Wired.com)
This could be a great thing for spirits consumers. Assuming this aging can be done cheaply and in bulk, consumers could see better tasting spirits being sold at the low and middle segments of the market. (Barrel-aging is not cheap!) Of course, booze snobs will continue to insist on buying truly aged liquor. This artificial aging technique could prove analogous to artificial corks/screwtops. Bordeaux and high end wines continue to use cork, while price points below it increasingly shift to the less costly/less balky, new fangled toppers.