Newtown’s Brain Brew Distillery Ages Custom Whiskey in Less Than an Hour


Brain Brew CEO Doug Hall says he doesn’t want you to buy his line of whiskey, which is now available at The Party Source. Believe me, you’ll want to — it’s some of the best whiskey I’ve had in years and sells for a fraction of top-shelf prices thanks to a new aging process he and his team developed called WoodCraft Finishing.

Hall claims he doesn’t want you to buy what he’s made simply because he wants you to make your own blend at the Brain Brew distillery in Newtown.

Brain Brew is an intriguing service and brand that allows you to customize your own whiskey to such a refined point that you’re likely to come home with a completely unique bottle.

Hall sat me down at the bar and began our interview with a history of whiskey’s role in America. Cincinnati was just as vital to whiskey’s national propagation as it was to beer pre-Prohibition. Don’t let anyone tell you Cincinnati is just another Midwestern city — we hold a prominent role in the nation’s economic and cultural history, especially if you like to drink. Hall worked for Scottish distillery Macallan for 20 years on the innovation side of the business and really knows the intricacies of whiskey, specifically bourbon.

Prior to barrel aging, whiskey is nothing like what we’re served at the bar. Around 70 percent of whiskey’s color, flavor and body comes from the barrel’s wood. (Sometimes that clear, unaged corn whiskey is referred to as “white dog” and it tastes a little bit like moonshine.)

“Distilling is not where the magic is, that’s controlled by computer,” Hall says. “The magic is in knowing how to make it work with the wood — that’s the key to whiskey.”

The new WoodCraft Finishing technique is why Brain Brew is able to offer award-winning whiskey at such a fair price. It cuts down on the aging process, producing the spirit in just 45 minutes versus the traditional four to six (or many more) years. Yes, 45 minutes.

Brain Brew sources its young bourbon, rye and grain whiskey — which has been aged in a barrel for a year or less — from a number of distillers in the region. Traditionally, this harsh, young whiskey develops its intricacies while aging in a wooden barrel. Shifting temperatures affect the process: warm weather allows the whiskey to seep more into the wood, while cold temperatures cause it to leech back out, infused with the barrel’s essence.

WoodCraft Finishing is an all-natural process that uses science to control the wood and temperature in such a way that significantly expedites that. (Think of it kind of like an Instant Pot.) Instead of finishing the whiskey in a barrel and aging it in a rickhouse, WoodCraft places the wood directly into the whiskey and then mimics the seasons with technology.

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| Photos by Kaitlyn Handel