Whiskey making is a time-tested process: Mash, ferment, distill, and then wait up to 10 years for maturation, right? Not if you're Cleveland Whiskey CEO Tom Lix. His whiskey, which released its first batch in March, is made in just a matter of months.
How does your pressure-aging process work?
Think about it like the analogy of a sponge. We put the oak in alcohol and, using pressure technologies, we literally squeeze that oak and then let it go ... as opposed to just passively having the alcohol lay up against the side of a barrel. That forces the alcohol much deeper into the wood and gives it a better flavor.
What inspired you to create this process?
There were early signs of what I thought would become a whiskey shortage. In China, in India, in Russia, they're drinking more whiskey. And you can't crank up production like cornflakes or computer parts, it's got to go in a barrel and sit patiently for a decade before it becomes something that's really worth consideration.
What kinds of flavors are you experimenting with?
[With traditional aging] you can't use maple, or black cherry, or mesquite or anything like that because it would leak like a seive. But with us, since we're putting the wood inside a stainless steel pressure-capable container, we're experimenting now with black cherry, pecan, orange and maple. It won't be artificially sweet or syrupy like you get in many of the flavored whiskeys now.