It’s new, it’s mysterious and it’s causing quite the ruckus in the whiskey community. Introducing the latest Ohio based Bourbon – Cleveland Whiskey’s Black Reserve Bourbon.
By definition this new spirit meets the technical standards to be called Bourbon but that’s about the only thing standard about their secret process. I’ve written earlier articles explaining the regulations and nuances of what differentiates bourbon from whiskey and throughout some of my reviews touched on some of the more interesting grains and their distilling process but the new Black Reserve Bourbon by Cleveland Whiskey is by far the most interesting process I have come across.
For starters, this whiskey isn’t being made on a country farm but produced in a start-up incubator run by MAGNET (Manufacturing and Advocacy Growth Network) near Cleveland State University by entrepreneur Tom Lix and his six-person team.
This small but mighty team is using a patent-pending process of “pressure aging” where a machine rapidly pushes alcohol (either their home made “white lightning” or sourced 6 month bourbon they purchase) in and out of used and charred barrel staves. This unique process aims to replicate the standard aging process that normally takes place when whiskey is placed in the cask but at an expeditious rate.
They claim that this secret process can “produce a bottle in under a week that can compare to a 10 or 12 year old version”. You can hear more about this process from Tom Lix himself in this video from Fox 8 News.
I’m torn on what to say about the Black Reserve Bourbon by Cleveland Whiskey… I’m a huge advocate for craft distillers (especially those in Ohio), it’s reasonably priced ($35.00) and I applaud their use of a new process in order to push the industry for innovation but at the end of the day the focus should be on the taste and not the marketing. While I’m curious to see what the future holds for this upstart craft distiller this initial release didn’t live up to their claims of being comparable to a 10 or 12 year Bourbon already on the market.
I’m not saying don’t purchase a glass or a bottle. I’m suggesting going in with your expectations focused on purchasing it as a novelty whiskey or to support something locally made by a small group of enthusiasts.