- Bespoken Spirits launched a new sustainable maturation process that quickly enhances a spirit’s aroma, color and taste — enabling almost limitless recipes within days, not years, the company said in a statement. The California business estimated its approach could save the spirits industry more than $20 billion a year, help the environment and keep up with consumers' fast-changing preferences.
- Bespoken also announced it raised $2.6 million in funding from investors, including Clos de la Tech wine owner T.J. Rodgers and former New York Yankees shortstop and businessman Derek Jeter.
- The alcohol industry as a whole has been improving its packaging, using less water, committing to renewable energy and even embracing electric trucks in an effort to lower its environmental footprint. Earlier this week, AB InBev and miner Rio Tinto formed a partnership that could cut carbon emissions by 30% per beer can.
Similar to what hard seltzer did to the beer industry, Bespoken is aiming to find its own way to upend the spirits-making process, which it claims has been stuck in the past.
The company said its sustainable approach helps customers go from concept to bottle in just days, instead of months or even years. Bespoken tailors the customer’s spirit to meet their specifications, using science and data analytics to save them as much as 70% of their R&D costs.
Bespoken uses a three-step process to turn an unaged white spirit into a liquor of predetermined color, aroma and taste. The process uses carefully selected and treated wood and a metal kettle programmed to apply the right amount of heat, pressure, churn and time onto the liquid to achieve the intended results.
"The traditional spirits production process is outdated, imprecise, unpredictable, unsustainable and inefficient," Martin Janousek, Bespoken Spirits' co-founder and material scientist, said in a statement. "The barrel aging process costs billions of dollars in lost product and limits ability to pivot along with consumer tastes and demands. We’ve reimagined the process with modern science and sustainable technology, using the same all natural elements of wood, toast, and char."
If the process works as Bespoken describes, the company could choose to license it to big-name alcohol companies such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard or Brown-Forman. For spirit makers, the claim that the technology could save them billions might be too much to pass up. Each year, nearly 20 million gallons of product is lost to evaporation due to the "wasteful, time-consuming and antiquated barrel aging process," Bespoken said.
As consumers pay more attention to the role their favorite brands play in helping the environment and the effort big businesses put into reducing their environmental footprint, the chance to use a technology that does just that could be appealing. At the same time, with consumer tastes seemingly changing overnight, the chance to make a spirit in a matter of days could allow manufacturers to produce a new flavor for people looking for variety or address demand if consumption is particularly in high demand for a specific item.
The eventual success of the Bespoken business model, however, hinges on whether consumers will be willing to accept purchasing a product that bucks tradition, even if the process uses the same materials. But if helping the environment and the prospects of a lower price are attractive to enough people, it might not take long for today's maturation process to become a thing of the past.