Austonian Whiskey is matured using a special barrel alternative technology that allows more precise control over the flavor and smoothness while using fewer resources. The process uses no artificial coloring or flavoring. This product has won two best in class awards – Whiskies of the World 2017 and Texas Whiskey Festival 2018. The full results are available with a quick search for either event. For around $30, it’s an excellent value, particularly if you compare it to the products receiving 2nd and 3rd places in those competitions.
The product has the smoothness of whiskeys that are aged many years, with caramel and vanilla notes reminiscent of bourbon but not quite the same as any other whiskey. The company recommends giving it a good 5 minutes in the glass to breathe when taken neat, and it will continue to evolve for quite a while.
This whiskey starts as a blend of two distillates, which after blending gives a mash bill like a high corn bourbon, around 88% corn, 10% rye, and a small amount of malt. The aging (or maturing) process uses no barrel aging at all, which differentiates this product from other alternatively aged products. Austonian’s aging technology is not the same as any of the ones that have been popularized (Cleveland Whiskey, Lost Spirits, Terressentia, etc.). It’s an entirely new process (actually a series of operations) that for now is being held as a trade secret.
The oak finishing starts with segments of toasted American White Oak to initially get the oak flavor and color. At that point, the product is very astringent and just tastes like wood mixed with alcohol, probably similar to a very brief time in a barrel, although perhaps with more oak content. Over the course of a month or so, the post-processing transforms it into what’s in the bottle – very smooth and drinkable with a creamy mouthfeel and pleasant flavors. Since many craft whiskeys and even big brands using short aging times, the barrels aren’t really delivering their full value, so this technology actually avoids cutting corners in a sense since it doesn’t require the years that barrel aging needs to fully mature whiskey.
It also turns out that this method uses only about 5% of the oak that is needed for aging bourbon in new 53 gallon barrels. Most whiskey fans probably don’t think much about the environmental side of it, but it’s always nice when you can apply technology to get more value with fewer resources.
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