No distiller in the world is redefining whisky like Bryan Davis.
Part showman, wacky scientist and razor-sharp businessman, the larger-than-life Californian is in the process of changing the world of distilling forever.
Davis founded The Lost Spirits Company in 2010 and since then it has become famous for its radical and innovative approach to distillation.
An inventor and distiller, Davis has invented a process that rapidly speeds up the aging process of spirits by forcing the spirit into the wood of the cask to produce what he refers to as ‘time machine whiskies’.
It’s a revolutionary technique which has been refined over several years and which can now make the equivalent of a 20-year-old whisky or rum in as little as six days. In an age where there is a supposed shortage of aged stock it is easy to see why this is so ground-breaking.
Davis predicts that in 20 years’ time most of us will be drinking whiskies that are just a week old but which taste like they have been matured for 20 years.
This is just the start for Davis. His technology also has the capacity to enhance or reduce certain flavour compounds in the spirit.
For example, if you wanted to increase the fruitiness of a whisky by 5-10%, the Lost Spirits Company technology could do this. Likewise, they could tone down certain flavour compounds.
Nor is he finished there; Davis has dozens of experiments going on at any one time. As well as his successful spirit-aging company he also runs a standalone distillery in Los Angeles which is open to the public and which he describes as ‘the Jurassic Park of Whisky’.
In this remarkable building visitors can experience what Davis calls his molecular-gastronomy approach to distilling. Davis wants to be distilling’s answer to The Fat Duck or Noma; he says his customers can expect to have a distilling experience on a par with dining at a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant.
But it’s not just about the taste. Davis is a showman who serves up a real sensory experience for visitors.
For instance, bits of his distillery tour are conducted in total darkness, while at other times visitors have to board a boat if they want to access certain parts of the distillery.
It’s a long way from Speyside, in every sense.
This feature first appeared in 2016.