Cleveland Whiskey

It must be terribly difficult to predict a consumer's demand for your product 6, 7, 8 or more years from now. But that's exactly what whiskey producers must do, and do well. Otherwise they have more demand for their product and missed an opportunity to sell more, or they have less demand and end up with excess inventory.

Simply put, whiskey producers dump their distilled spirit into oak barrels and place them on shelves in warehouses where they age for many years. In the warmer months the barrels expand and the spirit gets absorbed into the wood. In the colder months the barrels contract and the spirit is squeezed out of the wood picking up flavor characteristics of the barrels. This happens over and over, season after season. Most of the flavor and all of the color of whiskey comes from the barrel.

Cleveland Whiskey thinks they found a solution to waiting for whiskey to patiently age. They created a technology that accelerates the seasonal interaction of wood and whiskey. They dump newly-distilled "white" whiskey and crushed up barrels into a pressure cooker-like device that turns around a final product in just 24 hours. Want something other than oak wood flavor? How about apple wood, or hickory, or honey locust? They can do that. And if the consumer likes it, they can produce more tomorrow without having to wait years to see if the product is a hit or miss.

One of the products the company released last fall was Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels. Cleveland Whiskey sent some of their used bourbon barrels to Bissell Farms (also in Ohio) who used them to age their maple syrup. By the way, if you haven't had bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup on pancakes or French toast, you are truly missing out. Bissell then shipped the used barrels back to Cleveland Whiskey who used them to traditionally extra age their bourbon.

I learned about Cleveland Whiskey last year through WeFunder, a company that helps raise capital for startups and small businesses. It's like Kickstarter except instead of receiving a product in return you actually own some equity in the company. I thought perhaps it's time to start converting this hobby into positive cash flow. This was literally one of those opportunities to put my money where my mouth is.


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