Words: Shamim de Brún
Swiss-German entrepreneur Dr Dolf Stockhausen, claims he can make a fully mature Irish whiskey in one week. Legally mature Irish whiskey is a minimum of three years though experts say most whiskey only starts to round out at five.
The veteran of the Swiss chemical industry turned to Whiskey since he retired from the board of Clariant chemical company two years ago. He is most famous for his role in developing “cross-linked sodium polyacrylate polymers”. These are the chemicals that make paper towels and nappies “super absorbent”.
Traditionally time is fundamental to Irish whiskey. Maturation in barrels is the thing that separates Whiskey from other spirits. Time in barrel imbues whiskey with colour, flavour, and character.
Stockhausen described time as “the curse of whiskey making” in an interview with the Sunday Business Post. While his patent is still pending on his new “patterned technique”, it revolves around removing tannins from the wood and the use of woodchips.
Woodchips are controversial. There are many scientifically provable benefits from woodchip usage. However, there are distinct sensory differences between drinks aged in barrel and those aged with “alternatives”.
Irish Whiskey is a protected product, however, governed by national and EU legislation. Those who produce and market Irish Whiskey under the Irish GI must ensure that the production processes used for the products are verified as meeting the requirements of the relevant technical file.
To get around these requirements, he proposes using his “patented” ageing technique on GI compliant three-year-old Irish whiskey.
Stockhausen seems confident that his Whiskey aged in a week will eclipse all of this. He said “Maybe it may sound like bragging, but there is not one whiskey out of an Irish factory which is as good as any of ours.”
As for the reception and the quality of the Whiskey? Only time will tell.
Elsewhere on Char: Guide to Irish Whiskey