PEI

Finely-aged whiskey in 40 minutes? Inventor says he's done it

Life-long inventor and whiskey lover Doug Hall says he has taken time compression of whiskey aging to a new level, and is ready to bring a high-quality product to the masses.

'It's a chemical reaction … Why can't we do this faster?'

Brain Brew has already bottled Relativity whiskey. (Brain Brew Ventures)

Life-long inventor and whiskey lover Doug Hall says he has taken time compression of whiskey aging to a new level, and is ready to bring a high-quality product to the masses.

Traditionally whiskey — be it scotch, bourbon or Canadian — is stored in wooden barrels for years before it is considered ready to drink. Stored in unheated barns, the wood soaks up the whiskey in warm summers and squeezes it out in cold winters. Along the way the wood mellows the flavour.

As much as he loves these whiskeys, Hall — who makes his living at his innovation company Eureka Ranch — grew impatient with the process.

"I got fed up," he said.

"It's a chemical reaction. It's just alcohol and wood and time. That's it. The alcohol goes into the wood and it comes out. Warming, cooling. Why can't we do this faster?"

A high pressure problem

Hall launched Brain Brew Ventures to work on the problem.

He is not the first distiller to think there might be a faster way. The process is called time compression, and some distillers have been doing it for years.

One early idea was to add wood chips to the barrels. This put the whiskey into contact with more wood, shortening aging time from years to months.

Hall takes this a step further, increasing pressure in the barrel, squeezing it into the wood, then releasing it. Rapid repetition of this process, he said, allows him to replicate a years-long aging process in just 40 minutes.

"The net result is a product like Noble Oak, which wins double gold medals at every competition it goes into," he said.

'I have respect for the taste'

Hall said he is not out to replace traditionally aged whiskeys.

"The taste that they create is unique. We use this technology not to clone, but to do new things, to be able to create new tastes," he said.

"I have respect for the taste that is crafted, not the window dressing around it. The taste."

The compression aging technology is expensive, but Doug Hall still promises a value-for-money product. (Brain Brew Ventures)

The technology is expensive, he said, but he is still able to create bottles that will retail for $35. A quality product, he said, that will fit into the average budget.

Hall is currently looking for a partner on Prince Edward Island to start commercial production, that could include bourbons, ryes, and rum. He has summered on the Island for more than 50 years, and considers it home.

There is one unusual stipulation. At least one product will be set aside as a fundraiser for the College of Piping in Summerside, a Highland arts school that Hall has supported since its founding in 1990.

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With files from Island Morning

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