A process that claims to age spirits rapidly is being targeted at the UK own-label drinks market.

The TerrePure system is said to make newly distilled spirits taste like ultra-premium brands and can eliminate the time needed to store and age spirits - one of the biggest fixed costs of spirits production.

The patented process, developed in the US, uses ultrasonic energy and oxidation to complete chemical reactions traditionally achieved through ageing. The end result, claimed TerrePure, was a better-tasting, cleaner spirit with lower alcohol bite.

The company behind the technique - which supplies own-label spirits to bars and off-licences in the US - said 1,000-litre batches could be processed by a single TerrePure machine in a few hours. The addition of flavourings from wood or botanicals would then take a matter of weeks.

TerrePure commercial director Alasdair Coutts-Wood claimed the process could enable retailers to offer spirits at comparable prices to current top-end own-label products, but with a more premium flavour. “Most supermarkets have three tiers of own-label spirits,” he said. “We can’t compete with the basic and standard spirits, but estimate we may be able to with the premium ranges.”

Wine and Spirit Trade Association CEO Miles Beale said the trade body understood that the process had enjoyed considerable success already in America. “We look forward to seeing how consumers in the UK respond to this innovation,” he added.

Ageing is a legal requirement for some spirits, including Scotch whisky and brandy. However, spirits with similar flavour profiles can be sold so long as they are described in a way that does not breach labeling laws, and there are no legal ageing requirements for gin, vodka and rum.