[imagesource: Bespoken Spirits]
There are a few things that you need to know before we get into this.
One of the things that makes whiskey, well, whiskey, legally speaking, is contact with wood, which determines its flavour.
The length of time that the liquor gets friendly with the wood depends on the type – bourbon, Irish, Scotch, Canadian, and Japanese all have their own rules.
A whiskey’s age is a reflection of the time from when it is first put in the barrel until when it is dumped.
This brings us to Bespoken Spirits – a Silicon Valley spirits company that has developed a new data-driven process to accelerate the ageing of whiskey and create specific flavours.
TechCrunch says that the company has raised around $2,6 million in seed funding to get this project off the ground.
The company was co-founded by former Bloom Energy, BlueJeans, and Mixpanel executive Stu Aaron, and another Bloom Energy alumn, Martin Janousek (above).
Accelerated ageing is a process that tries to minimise the time that it would normally take to age whiskey in a barrel.
“Rather than putting the spirit in a barrel and passively waiting for nature to take its course, and just rolling the dice and seeing what happens, we instead use our proprietary ACTivation technology — with the A, C and T standing for aroma, color and taste — to instill the barrel into the spirit, and actively control the process and the chemical reactions in order to deliver premium quality tailored spirits — and to be able to do that in just days rather than decades,” explained Aaron.
Despite the fact that this sounds like a horrible idea, Bespoken Spirits has won a number of prizes at a number of competitions.
The team argues that traditional barrel aging is a wasteful process, where you lose 20% of the product through evaporation, and one that is hard to replicate.
And because of how long it takes, it also creates financial challenges for upstarts in this business — and it makes it hard to innovate.
Yeah, but it also produces something delicious. This is classic profit-oriented Silicon Valley thinking.
Then there’s the beer/whiskey crossover, which came about as breweries found themselves overstocked during the pandemic.
“They’re realizing that rather than paying somebody to dispose of that beer and taking it back, they can actually recycle — or upcycle maybe is a better word — the beer, by distilling it into whiskey,” Aaron said.
“But unfortunately, when a brewery distills beer into whiskey, it’s typically not very good whiskey. And that’s where we come in. We can take that beer bin, as a lot of people call initial distillation, and we can convert it into a premium-quality whiskey.”
The whiskey is “aged” using data captured throughout the process, following which a tasting panel describes the product for them
Using the data and feeding it into their systems, they can analyse and tweak where necessary.
“We’re collecting all this data — and some of the data that we’re collecting today, we don’t even know yet what we’re going to use it for,” Janousek said. Using its proprietary techniques, Bespoken will often create dozens of samples for a new customer and then help them whittle those down.
With all of that data mining and Silicon Valley in the mix, I feel like I need to tell the whiskey to ramp up its privacy settings.
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