"It's something I came up with after wanting a solution to the fact that craft really has to struggle to get any kind of whiskeys or brown spirits released because you gotta let it sit in a barrel. Even if you rush it to market, it still is going to take a significant amount of time. I know a little bit about the chemistry of aging and kind of stumbled upon an article that talked about a completely unrelated field, and there was a certain oxidation process that was happening and I thought, 'I wonder if I can apply that to spirits.' I worked through a couple of prototypes and was able to achieve those results with aging spirits," says Scott Feuille, a retired Naval aviator and founder of Taylor Garrett Whiskey, located in Albuquerque. Through a collaboration with VARA Winery, Feuille was able to test and distill his conceptual accelerated whiskey, eventually crafting a product he is proud to sell.
"I've kind of created a magic barrel, so to speak. It's not actually aged in a barrel but in a vessel with treated staves that we toast, very similar to profiles that the winemakers would toast their staves to, then we charge them. But because the wood is exposed on all sides, and not just the interior of the barrel, we can get similar exposure rates to a 53 gallon barrel with a quarter of the wood required for that 53 gallon barrel. We're not jamming a bunch of wood in there and accelerating it that way. But we're very meticulous about how we chose the wood to get a very specific flavor profile out of it. To kind of maximize the vanilla and with the charring, it has that nice layer of caramel right below the char layer. Then we've got other physical processes that are going on that essentially aid in the oxidation process that would normally happen in a barrel over years. We end up with a final result in anywhere between six and seven days," said Feuille. If this is true, the turnaround time on whiskey being cut down by years would be revolutionary. Purists might scoff, but the real trick is if it passes the taste test. At the end of the day, a process is only as important as the end result product, and if Taylor Garrett Whiskey can pass with aged products, then the process only counts for show. But Feuille isn't worried.
It's true that risk of loss prevents experimentation in whiskey, with three plus years down the drain for a bad batch, which leaves many producers focused on making sure the one they release is as good as it can be and not touching the formula otherwise. For those in the know about whiskey, what can they expect from the launch? According to Feuille, "The whiskey is done on a bourbon mash. Now it's a high rye bourbon mash. So we're at 65% corn, 25% rye, and then 10% is the malted barley. So, we're definitely going after that bourbon field. Our rye is kind of a kind of a swap of that."
Will innovation win the day? It's hard to say for sure until the product is in our hands (Weekly Alibi will be at a launch party this weekend to find out for sure) but if it passes the tests, this could be a true game changer for the craft spirits industry. For those looking to try Taylor Garrett Whiskey themselves, the product will be officially launching to the public on Feb. 9 and will be available at $53 a bottle. You’ll be able to purchase your own bottle at VARA Winery at 315 Alameda Blvd. NE.