Nautilus

Whiskey Can’t Hide Its Age Either

In case you haven’t heard, doomsday is coming—more droughts, floods, famine, class warfare, entitled children, and, brace yourself: a bourbon shortage! Yes, traditional Kentucky distillers didn’t predict or prepare for this Mad Men-inspired mixology epoch. And if it continues on this trajectory, thousands of years from now geologists and archaeologists will be able to identify the bourbon-free era in the absence of fancy rectangular bottles in the remains of fallen civilizations.

That is, unless scientists can build a whiskey time machine, a way to gracefully cheat the slow aging process that offers bourbon its rich oaky tones and sweet and smooth finish.

The popularity of bourbon in the past decade has been a major high and hangover for American distillers. (The name “bourbon” is reserved for barrel-aged whiskeys made primarily of corn in the United States.) In 2002, the U.S. sold 13 million cases of bourbon; in 2014, 19 million cases, generating $2.7 billion in revenue. But the popularity and the time bourbon takes to mature, paired

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