From our Swindon Correspondent:
From the FT
A Silicon Valley-based start-up is taking on the $500bn global spirits industry with proprietary technology it claims can reproduce the taste of a barrel-aged whisky, rum or brandy in three to five days.
Bespoken Spirits, founded by materials scientist Martin Janousek and entrepreneur Stu Aaron, has won awards in blind tastings with drinks made by exposing alcohol to “micro staves” of different woods under pressure, in what they likened to a “Nespresso machine on an industrial scale”.
I’m not quite sure how whisky is made, but I am familiar with Cognac. You take the grape juice, distill to produce what is known as eau-de-vie and then put it in barrels. Over time, the wood adds some flavours and smooths things out. Much like whisky, the longer you leave it the better.
It sounds like what they’re doing is some way of applying pressure to this, so accelerating the process. More of whatever is good about wood touching distilled malt happens quicker.
Bespoken’s launch met with a frosty response from the Scotch Whisky Association, which said many markets required maturation in casks for a spirit to be sold as “whisky”, including the UK and EU, where it must be aged for three years.
“Those quality definitions of whisky protect the reputation of whisky as a traditionally aged product, and other spirits produced with other techniques should be labelled in a way which doesn’t take unfair advantage of that reputation,” it said.
“The SWA will take action all over the world to stop the sale of products which seek to compete with Scotch Whisky as ‘whisky’ but fail to meet the legal requirements of the country of sale.”
And there’s the luddites. But instead of smashing up stocking frames, they want to stop everyone getting hold of cheap, industrial whisky by using the force of government.
Of course, what will happen is that they won’t call it whisky but everyone will know it’s whisky in a short time, If they can produce a product that tastes like whisky and gets you hammered like whisky, it’ll get called whisky by people.
If they can just do Cognac next, because I’d like to drink stuff as good as Hine XO for a fraction of the price, thanks.