For smaller craft distilleries, keeping up in the whiskey game is expensive.
They need to buy pricey oak barrels and distill the whiskey. Then let that product sit in a warehouse for years.
That's not a great business model for a tiny company.
"Distillers have to pay the rent, and it's very difficult for them to tell their investors, 'Just sit tight for a decade and we'll see where the whiskey's at after that,'" said Growler magazine senior editor John Garland.
So, what's a small distillery to do? Speed up the whiskey-aging process.
One way craft distilleries can cheat the clock is by using smaller barrels, which put more liquid in contact with the wood during the aging process.
Some places even use sound, blasting hip-hop beats at their barrels for several hours each day. Research suggests that sonic waves can rupture plant tissues that can speed up aging, Garland said.
"It's maybe more of an anecdotal thing," he said, "but there's some historical precedent for having barrels be slightly jostled to move the aging process along a little bit."
Whiskey is categorized by its age more than any other spirit, Garland said.
A spirit's age gives connoisseurs an idea of how it may taste or look. And age matters for labeling whiskeys. For example, bourbons need two years of aging to be called straight bourbon.
Rapid-aged whiskeys don't have the taste of their older counterparts. Garland described them as tasting younger or "greener."
But these fast spirits are increasingly becoming craft distilleries' answer to the big names.
Liquor giants can afford to age whiskeys for years on end and still consistently turn out a quality, reasonably priced product.
For example, "You're never going to make a better Maker's Mark than Maker's Mark," Garland said.
Small companies can't compete with extensive aging, so they need to develop different tastes for their spirits.
One way smaller distilleries differentiate their whiskeys is by finishing them in a barrel that had been used for a different type of spirit, Garland said, changing the taste.
Garland wrote about the rapid-aged whiskey trend in the Growler magazine. Listen to his interview with All Things Considered host Tom Crann using the audio player above.