A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
The process is said to be able to transform ordinary spirits into "ultra-premium", purified spirits in a matter of hours.
Terrepure Spirits, a UK subsidiary of the South Carolina-headquartered Terressentia, is now offering the UK trade, particularly bars and pubs, own-label spirits that have undergone the process.
The UK subsidiary said the machine’s use of "ultrasonic energy and oxidation" is “scientifically proven” to reduce congeners such as methyl and amyl alcohols, propanol, isobutanol – which are said to contribute to hangovers.
It is also claimed that fatty acids are converted into esters (glycerides), which enhances the mouth feel of the spirit.
Alasdair Coutts-Wood, commercial director for the UK subsidiary, said the machines finish “reactions” that "fail to be completed during the distillation process" and "avoids the need for filtration, re-distillation or barrel aging".
In the case of brown spirits, it is claimed the extended aging in oak barrels can be mimicked by the system, expediting the process from “six years to six months”.
With the use of oak staves – or any other natural flavouring – Coutts-Wood said Terrepure can bond compounds at a molecular level, making for better blended flavours and colours.
In the US, Terressentia has sold an estimated 2-300,000 6-bottle cases of unbranded spirits over the last 4-5 years, including the supply of liquid to own-brand spirits Winchester Bourbon and Tapping House Rum for retailer Total Wine.
In the UK Coutts-Wood said he was targeting the on-trade as a priority, with the offer of bespoke own-label brands at a competitive price. He said: “We can take a product form the States or Mexico and rapidly refine it to produce a better spirit – and I can still be competitive even though I am shipping from the US [to the UK].
“I’ll take orders as small as 100 six bottle cases. We can deliver as soon as they create their label – or we can design the label [for them] using their logo,” he said.
The spirits will be priced at just over pub/bar "rack prices”, with vodka, gin and flavoured rums coming in at under £14 for a 70cl bottle (plus VAT), while tequila and bourbon would be under £16 (plus VAT).