Now You Can Barrel Age Whiskey, Minus the Barrel

If time really is money, then the whiskey innovators at Portland, Oregon’s Time and Oak might have hit the jackpot. Founder Tony Peniche has developed what he calls “whiskey elements,” (bars of notched, charred and/or smoked wood) which follow the same principles of whiskey’s charred oak barrels to mimic the flavors created when whiskey spends time in these barrels—except without the wait. By dropping one of these elements into a bottle, a more flavorful whiskey can be had within 24 hours. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Peniche has upped his flavor offerings and, ultimately, hopes to make drinking whiskey a customizable experience, Forbes reports.

Unwilling to fork over the cash for high-end whiskeys, Peniche investigated what really makes a top-shelf spirit better than the alternatives. The simple answer he came up with: more contact with the barrel. Testing the science behind oak’s capillary action, which draws spirits through the wood and imparting those much sought after flavors, the Time and Oak team engineered their whiskey elements to impart the same “aging” action in a fraction of the time.

Though an exciting discovery, whiskey enthusiasts are sure to pose the question as to whether Time and Oak’s “elements” are able to deliver the same nuanced flavor profiles that only years in a barrel have, thus far, delivered. Furthermore, the implications of changing distillers’ already finished products is certainly something to consider not only as a consumer, but as a distiller whose integrity is wrapped up in the very spirits being altered. But of course, only time (and oak) will tell. [Forbes] [Photo: Time and Oak]