Takeaways from the first ever BevCon cocktail convention in Charleston. (And a peek into the future of rum.)

By Mark C. Anderson

It’s 2 in the morning on a September night on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina. Our group is hearing voices—and it’s not the result of all the incredible spirits and concoctions we took down as part of the first-ever BevCon conference.

We stand in a room that’s completely white, except for an original copy of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine on a lone white pedestal at its center. The voice is cooly robotic, motion-triggered, with a South African accent.
a “Your host will be with you shortly,” it says.

Bryan Davis walks through the door, wearing the Cheshire grin that he does so frequently, particularly when showing off his technology toys.

The voice belongs to his favorite creation, and continues through the tour, all the way to the artifact-laden tasting room. It’s also the one piece among many that has the greatest potential to change the world.

He calls her Tessa, and she links all the amazing software machinery in the Lost Spirits brand-new distillery — a distillery so new, in fact, that this is only the second tour outsiders have ever enjoyed.

Her software, which they hacked to work with several other operating systems, allows for near-complete automation of the spirits-making process, around the clock.

That’s the worldchanging part: Making great products, including rum, with robots doing all the work. Digital sensors trip different parts of the machinery to kick in at any time of day or night; text messages are enough to add yeast.

Davis, called “perhaps the most inventive booze maker in all America” by New York City’s The Daily Beast, understands this goes much bigger than liquor.

“Wall Street builds value through deal structure, not by making stuff,” he says. “The use of technology from the Second Rise of Machines will break China’s economy, and redefine ours.”

The most striking piece of the Lost Spirits process is its patented Targeted Hyper-Esterification Aging (or THEA) reactor, which gives rums and whiskeys the molecular flavor structure of a spirit aged 20 years. One of its recent result is Santeria Rum from partner brand Rational Spirits, a surprisingly smooth 92-proof pot-still dunder-pit-style creation with elements of toffee and charred banana.

That was part of BevCon tastiest cocktail (and there were a lot of cocktails) at its closing party, a daiquiri by Nick Derich of New Orleans destination spot Cane and Table. That party, in turn, eventually led to the late-night distillery tour (and a stop by Waffle House).

There’s no telling where Lost Spirits’ technology and instincts will lead them, but it will send ripples across an industry. >

More at www.lostspirits.net.