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Given the number of people entering the craft distilling industry and the noted lead times on barrels, do you think the industry will find it advantageous to come up with a way to age whiskey in a more ecologically friendly way? Curious what folks have to say about this. Thanks.

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I think aging whiskey in a wood barrel is the most ecologically friendly part of the production process.

Growing trees consumes CO2 and produces O2. People need to plant trees to have a continuous source of wood, and I'm guessing the air "filtered" over the lifetime of a tree outweighs the carbon output during the wood/barrel processing?

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But to the point, a great many craft distillers are innovating on the spirit aging front. https://www.defiantwhisky.com/ leaps to mind - they don't even use barrels and have no shortage of awards

With no new charred oak barrels, how can they call it Malt Whiskey? I also didn't notice an age statement on the label. Have they found some loophole by spelling it "whisky"?

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It is not "Malt Whiskey", that does not appear on the label.

It is "Whisky", this can be verified by looking up the COLA in the public registry.

It has a fanciful name added "American Single Malt", which must be true (made in America, one distillery, 100% malted barley), but that is in a different typeface/size and separated from descriptor "Whisky" by a thin line. That means it is not light whiskey either, but it could, for example, be a mixture of the two.

Misleading, perhaps, but the TTB could approve.

On the other hand, the age statement is a good question. It should mean it is 4 years old. Of course, I am aware of more than one distillery that uses a whiskey label without age statement that has not aged for 4 years. Without a formula, or some statement on the label, the TTB will not know you do not meet the age requirement. They will ASSUME you meet the age requirement. They would have to do an inspection, or have someone blow the whistle to investigate, to know otherwise.

And if they do find such a problem and require the label to be changed, they will often allow them to finish the run of labels before changing.

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There are lots of people on the Home Distiller website who are experimenting with accelerated aging techniques and publish their results and methods. It wouldnt surprise me if the successful companies who are doing it are using the same techniques but on an industrial scale. Actually I want to try some of the techniques when I finally have my distillery up and running.

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I find the Defiant "american single malt/WHISKEY" to be a little deceptive. They appear to use barrels, but also seem to use (charred?) versions of the barrel spirals added to wine barrels.

Accelerated Aging:

I've tracked some of the accelerated aging schemes. All the big distilleries did a deep-dive into the science after prohibition, but didn't come up w/ anything.

Small barrels - right. Apparently Prichard's is successfully using a mix of small & large and transfers to make a good product - but I have few details. Otherwise it's hit&miss.

Cleveland Whiskey buys 6month old bourbon from someone (stories vary, but either four roses of mgpi), chops up the barrels and does some sort of pressure technique on it to extract barrel flavor. IMO it tastes like a decent too-young whiskey (w/ congener flavors) masked by a lot of oak flavor. The char & sweetness & caramel part of the flavor & color is good, but it also has a "woodshop oak" raw oak note and a black charry coloration (maybe from iron contact) that it's unlikeable.

Terressential uses a sonochemical process to oxidize components faster (imaging a big ultrasonic welder jostling the molecules), and I've only tasted their ChickenCock product. The flavored chicken cock is not interesting to me, but the point is that the alcohol seemed remarkable smooth and lacking in offensive congeners. These guys *MAY* have some useful technology. (you can google-scholar up the patent). I mentioned this to a ChemE involved in the food industry once and he immediately came up with several alternatives that might get the same end.

A couple years ago, I sampled all the whitedogs I could get my hands on (universally awful) but I did find that adding a little hydrogen peroxide and waiting a day makes a difference. Seems to clean up and add a little estery aroma.

I don't think there is any good means to evade aging. More volatile "bad stuff" selectively evaporates or is trapped in the char, barrel flavors are extracted, and some energetically favorable reactions take place among the secondary components. You might do one of those by alternative means, but balancing the three is magic. Most results are like throwing a steak in the microwave. It might technically be "cooked" but ...

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Most "accelerated aging" that I have seen is bullshit (I am not familiar with Terressential). It is quite easy increase extraction by increasing surface area, but they is a lot more to aging than wood extraction. There is certainly nothing wrong with using this method, but calling it "accelerated aging" is either dishonest or ignorant, and people who do so should be called out on it. Aging is a very complex process that is not fully understood. It involves many processes, including, but not limited to: extraction, adsorption, polymerization, evaporation, oxidation and degradation. Aging changes a spirit, but whether that is a good or bad change depends on a myriad of variables, including the person drinking it.

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