Is whisky artificially aged? Unfortunately, this question is difficult to answer outright. Some whisky is artificially aged whereas others are not. Most whiskies today are not artificially aged because of their slightly different flavor, but some startups are trying to make the practice more popular.
In this article, we will explain what artificially aging is regarding whisky, the stages of that process and how it affects whisky and its flavour, specifically. Keep reading!
Sipping this article:
- Is Whisky artificially aged?
- What is the norm to age Whisky?
- The Difference between Artificially Aged Whisky and From Regular Whisky
- Final Thoughts
Is Whisky Artificially Aged?
For thousands of years, humans have been making alcohol and whisky through traditional aging processes. Because of how long it takes for whisky to mature properly, a lot of time and money goes into the whisky-aging process.
For this reason, many whisky producers around the globe have been trying to artificially age this spirit so as to cut the maturation time in half while still maintaining the flavor people look for in a nice glass of whisky. It wasn’t until recently that this dream became a reality.
Although there is still a lot of ways to go in terms of normalizing whisky artificially aged, there are plenty of types of artificially aged whiskies on the market today. Most of these companies are proud of their technology and are working to make artificially aged whisky more and more popular.
What is the Norm to Age Whisky?
Even though artificially aged whisky is becoming more popular, it is still far from the norm. In fact, the vast majority of whisky is still aged the old-fashioned way because of its superior taste and status within the alcohol world.
So, you are likely not going to stumble upon an artificially aged whisky unless you specifically seek it out. Maybe in the future, more whisky will be artificially aged. Until then, most of drams will be aged through barrels and traditional methods.
The Difference between Artificially Aged Whisky and From Regular Whisky?
So far, we’ve ansewered the question “is Whisky artificially aged?” and how often that happens. We have not actually explained what artificially aged means in the first place. Although it obviously means that the whisky didn’t age for many years, it does not explain how the whisky actually matures and gets its flavor.
The Traditional Aging Process
Traditionally, this spirit is aged in barrels. The barrels prevent light, oxygen, and other factors from inhibiting the maturation process. During its time in the barrels, the liquid will turn into the drink we know to be whisky. It can take anywhere from 3 to 16 years for whisky to be matured.
The reason why whisky has to age is that the time in the barrel changes the whisky’s flavor so that the drink is recognizably the type of dram you want. If you skip the aging process, you won’t have whisky.
Importantly, the aging process largely impacts the flavor of the whisky. The type of barrel used and its treatment process determines how the whisky tastes. In fact, no two whisky bottles taste exactly the same since no two barrels have the same history.
How Artificial Aging Works
The goal of artificially aging whisky is to create a spirit that tastes exactly like a certain whisky expression without waiting all those years. How the individual process works depends on how the drink is artificially aged. Different technologies, including heat, wood splinters, and light have been used to try to mature the barrel in less time.
How Is Whisky Artificially Aged?
Currently, there are several methods for artificially aging whisky. Pop-ups all around the globe have been trying to perfect whisky that is artificially aged using different techniques and technology available.
Some approaches to artificially aging whisky include exposing the liquid to extra light, heat, additional wood splinters, and sound. Most of these approaches speed up the process slightly but are not fast enough or effective enough for artificially aged whiskies to take over.
One of the more popular approaches to artificially aging whisky is to expose the liquid to highly pressurized carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide comes in contact with the liquid, carbonic acid forms which allows the wood to create esters faster.
Is Whisky Artificially Aged Real Whisky?
Whether or not whisky that is artificially aged counts as real whisky depends on who you ask. Some whisky connoseurs insist that no matter how much technology changes, true whisky has to be aged traditionally.
Some local governments and ordinances even agree with this idea to the point that whisky must be aged for an appropriate amount of time for the drink to even classify as whisky on the label. Often, artificially aged whiskies produced in these areas are called “whisky spirits” instead of just whisky.
On the contrary, many people insist that artificially aged whisky is real whisky. The brands that make artificially aged whisky, for example, are often adamant that the drink deserves the same classification as traditionally aged whiskies.
Even though artificially aged whisky is becoming more normalized, the debate about this question specifically has only become more heated. It seems that as more artificially aged whiskies are introduced to the table, the fiercer the debates will become.
Does Artificially Aged Whisky Taste the Same?
At the moment, most artificially aged whiskies do not taste the same as traditional whisky. That is not to say that the drink doesn’t taste good. It simply means that experts are able to tell the difference between artificially aged and traditionally aged whiskies. Amateurs might not be able to tell the difference.
Even though the difference between traditional and artificial whiskies is obvious for many professionals, experts in whisky are still saying good things about different whisky brands that artificially age their drink.
If you look at the history of reviews about artificial whisky, it appears that artificially aged whiske is becoming more and more similar to traditionally aged whisky, regarding its flavor. That gives us hope that the artificial process will eventually develop so that it tastes the same as traditional whisky.
Is Whisky Artificially Aged Becoming More Popular?
Slowly but surely, artificially aged whisky is becoming more popular. If you just pay attention to the different brands, more and more startups are selling artificially aged whisky. In fact, many new patents have come out for technology responsible for artificially aged whisky.
Still, it doesn’t seem that artificially aged whisky is going to become more popular than traditional whisky anytime soon. Currently, the technology we have does not deliver the same flavor that people desire when drinking whisky.
Perhaps whenever technology is able to deliver an artificially aged whisky that tastes the same, the artificial process may become more popular due to its quick times and convenience.
How Can I Find Out How My Whisky Is Artificially Aged?
Most whisky brands are very upfront about how they age their whisky. If whisky is artificially aged, they typically say that outright and talk about the technology that went into it. In contrast, brands that age their whisky traditionally discuss their barrels and how long they are aged.
Although the age of the whisky might not be on the bottle itself, you should be able to visit the brand’s website. There, you will learn how the whisky is aged and produced.
Some Whisky Artificially Aged Brands
Although artificially aged whiskies are becoming more popular, you still have to look a little bit hard to find these expressions. Even though the artificially aged whiskies may not be local to your area, you should be able to find some bottles online. Here are some whisky artificially aged brands to check out:
Glyph – One of the first brands to tackle artificially aged whiskey is Glyph. Glyph is a spirit whisky that is produced in San Francisco. This drink is unique because its sources the compounds that are found in good whiskey and blends them with their liquid to create a drink that should taste and smell like aged whiskey.
Woodson Bourbon – A super unique brand that uses sound waves to age whiskey faster. The Woodson Bourbon Company was founded by the NFL Hall of Fame Charles Woodson, after which the company is named.
Creek River Whiskey – Creek River Whiskey uses infused wood chips to rapidly age their whiskey. These wood chips are sourced from old wine casks for the right flavor. This company has been associated with the musician Yelawolf for its innovation.
Is whisky artificially aged? Currently, it’s safe to say that most whiskey is not since there is still a stigma against rapid maturation. Although more and more brands are coming up with innovative ways to age their whisky, it still isn’t the most popular option.
If you are interested in trying artificially aged whisky, we recommend one of the three brands above. Even though these whiskies don’t taste exactly like real whisky, they certainly are unique and innovative. Perhaps, they will be able to innovate the process further in the future so that you can’t tell the difference between artificially aged and traditionally aged whisky.
Until then, formulate your own opinion about whether or not artificially aged whiskey counts as real whiskey since the topic isn’t going away anytime soon. That way, you can answer the question, “Is whisky artificially aged real whisky?” with confidence!