Whiskey That's Equal Parts Technology & Creativity

Liz Conway
February 6, 2020
Cleveland Whiskey Logo, a black W inside of a Black C, branded onto the end of a wooden barrel.
Photo by
Chris Leszkowicz

Whiskey achieves its distinct flavor because of how it is stored. Traditionally, it is aged and placed in oak barrels for about 5-10 years. But Cleveland Whiskey decided to do things differently. Why? Because they can. They also discovered that breaking tradition through innovation, just like the whiskey they produce, was oh so sweetly satisfying.

Experimentation is key

Self-proclaimed amateur chemist and Owner/CEO of Cleveland Whiskey, Tom Lix, started his distillery experiments in his basement in 2009. Thanks to his experimentations he was able to develop a groundbreaking technique that shortens the whiskey aging process from 5-10 years to about a week. After four years his company was able to ship out their first bottles in 2013. Now, their distribution has grown to over 16 states.

So what makes Cleveland Whiskey unique? 

Cleveland Whiskey’s Underground varieties are flavored from woods that make terrible barrels.  To be legally considered whiskey, they place their raw spirits into oak charred barrels for about 6 months, but then they transfer the spirit into stainless steel tanks and fill it with cuts of different varieties of wood such as hickory, applewood, and black cherry. Through vacuum seal and pressurization, they considerably shorten the process and create totally unique flavor profiles. 

Lix has the great job of sampling new whiskeys every week. He is always striving to make the next whiskey better than the last. While his techniques have been deemed “out of the box” by some traditionalists, his creations continue to win awards all over the world. 

Its all in a name 

Although Lix is not an Ohio Native, he named it Cleveland Whiskey and it is definitely here to stay. Lix notes that the people of Cleveland are really supportive. They always turn out in large numbers to the company’s open houses and new product launches. 

“Cleveland is a great environment, a great place to do business, and a great place to live.”

-Tom Lix, Founder and CEO of Cleveland Whiskey 

He also remarked on Cleveland’s great access to fresh water, Lake Erie provides an important natural resource in the whiskey business. Stay tuned for Cleveland Whiskey’s expansion to a new home in The Flats.

For more information about Cleveland Whiskey, visit

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