"But that’s fine -- I think American whiskey should be the fastest growing category," Thomas says. "It gives you latitude to experiment and create some great stuff, while still following the tenants of whiskey-making that make whiskey great. I don’t give a shit about used cooperage; I care about the final product."
Uselton estimates that New Columbia’s first bottle of whiskey will hit the market in about two more years. While that timeline is an estimate, Thomas, who has spent significant time and money visiting distilleries tasting and purchasing barrels, has noticed that "rye tends to age faster and gain a lot more character quicker -- the two-year-old ryes that have been coming out have been really palatable, but for bourbon, it’s more like four years." Upon cracking open one of New Columbia’s barrels to sample the whiskey, Thomas remarks that he "can’t wait to see this at 2 and 3 years," but that it could conceivably be a product that’s releasable today.
"For some of the older experimental barrels," Uselton says, "if one turns out nice, maybe we’ll release it as just that barrel, but we haven’t decided yet." While by no means a certainty, the tantalizing prospect of a single-barrel whiskey release from New Columbia does exist.