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SF Startup Creates World's First Molecular Whiskey Aged Without Barrels

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - Aging spirits like wine, cognac, even beer, has called for wooden casks, often oak, for aroma and taste. Now a new San Francisco startup called Endless West is making whiskey without using any barrels and they're doing it in much less time.

It's first product called Glyph is made in Silicon Valley-style.

Endless West can craft whiskey in its Dogpatch lab and manufacture it in about 24 hours. It's made to taste as if it were aged.

Traditional whiskey can take anywhere from a few years to 50 years to age.

"We're making the world's first molecular whiskey," said CEO and Co-Founder Alec Lee. "We source and identify the molecules that you find in whiskeys on the shelf. We find them from other places in nature and then we sort of design them from scratch."

Lee says though it's designed in a lab, there's nothing artificial about the whiskey.

"People aren't really scared of this because they know it all still comes from nature, it's all made molecule by molecule so it's very highly controlled." says Lee. "People care very deeply about how it's made and it's all handmade here in San Francisco, so there's really nothing - nothing clinical here.

The different components are added to medical grade alcohol. The federal government classifies Glyph as a spirit whiskey with natural flavors.

Endless West says the flavor is inspired by maturation in sherry casks, with notes of caramel and vanilla. It is designed to appeal to a wide swath of consumers.

Reporter Betty Yu found that to be the case, as a non-whiskey drinker, with a blind taste test. It featured five mostly high-end whiskeys. Glyph tasted the most middle-of-the-road to her.

Each bottle sells for up to $55 dollars depending on the retailer. Right now Glyph can be found in select bars, restaurants and retailers in the Bay Area, Southern California and Brooklyn.

Lee says it is more cost effective, takes less time, and is more sustainable than traditional whiskey making. Equally important to the consumer is the story behind Glyph.

"I think that this will be a game changer, but only in the sense that it adds a new appreciation for different forms of this art," said Lee. "I think that people will always want to experience whiskey that was aged in a barrel, but I think what changes is that people sort of broaden the scope of what's acceptable as whiskey."

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