RALEIGH – A tech-enabled “barrel” that ages whiskey and bourbon in just a few days, not years.
It might sound far-fetched, but spirit connoisseurs can now taste it for themselves.
Aeva Labs, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup out of Raleigh, has figured out how to speed up the aging process of spirits with its software-controlled equipment.
The result: alcohol that naturally ages more than 100 times faster than traditional barrel-aging.
“We’re developing tools for the next generation of distillers that augment their creativity and agility,” said Aeva Labs co-founder and NC State grad Steven Guido.
“It [usually] takes distillers several years to get most types of products to market. In a rapidly changing liquor market, several years can mean the difference between success and going out of business.
“With Aeva Labs, distilleries can create and scale new product lines in weeks to months, not years.”
Back in 2018, Guido teamed up with his former college dorm mate Zachary Fearnside to found Aeva Labs. Both engineers, they got inspired to develop new technology to innovate the alcohol distilling industry.
The alcohol is distilled in the same way, he stresses, but after that, instead of sitting in a barrel for years, it is aged in one of Aeva’s stainless steel machines that look more like a high-tech fridge.
Distillers control the recipe on the touchscreen, fill it with their chosen liquor and wood, and — poof – it’s fully aged within five to seven days.
“We use a suite of multiple technologies to control anything from how much wood is extracted to how the color of the spirit turns out — and much more,” Guido explains.
“We pass this creative control down to the distillers, who can make these customizations on the fly through our software.”
But what about the taste?
“In a recent blind taste test between a series of products made from the same un-aged alcohol, we went head to head with a 4-year-old traditionally barrel-aged product and held our own.”
Products hit the shelves
Ultimately, consumers can decide for themselves.
A number of North Carolina distilleries are already using Aeva Lab’s technology.
That includes Old Nick Williams Distillery, which has been business since 1768. It currently has two products on the shelves: Coattail, an all-natural whiskey made with oak and cinnamon; and Jamerican, a Jamaican-style rum.
Both are available at ABC stores across the state.
“We think the next wave of products will be these all-natural, no additive flavored whiskies, and our equipment is exceptional at making them. Think the LaCroix of flavored whiskies – not too overpowering, but enough flavor to be present,” Guido says.
“We challenge anyone out there who thinks accelerated aging isn’t possible to try a pour of these.”