Making good whiskey takes time. Try though they might, no distiller or producer has yet found a way to shortcut Father Time. There simply is no substitute for the years whiskey spends slowly aging in wood.
But that doesn't mean people don't try. Small craft distillers — and big liquor conglomerates — around the country and the world are experimenting with ways of producing good whiskey faster. So far none of them seem to work. (See: Chuck Cowdery, New York Times, John Hansell, Washington Post, Inc. Magazine.)
This desire is nothing new. While perusing a monograph from 1884 (The Complete Bartender: The Art of Mixing Plain and Fancy Drinks by Albert Barnes of the Metropolitan Hotel in New York City), I discovered the following recipe.
IMITATION OF BOURBON WHISKEY.
To 15 gallons of whiskey, add 3 gallons of Bourbon whiskey, 3/4 pint of simple syrup, 1 ounce of sweet spirits of nitre. Mix them well together, and color with sugar coloring.
So if you happen to have some sweet spirits of nitre on hand — the folksy name for ethyl nitrite, an ingredient used in patent remedies that's been banned in the United States since 1980 — you're good to go!