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GE-backed startup brings crystal-clear ice to fans of bourbon and other spirits

Clayton Moore

Ice is a bit of a tricky business. While most people just fill an ice cube tray with tap water, it seems a bit of a shame to contaminate fine spirits with a less-than-pure chunk of frozen water that inevitably contains impurities at worst and trapped air at best.

For the rest of us, a new GE Appliances-backed startup called FirstBuild has just launched a groovy new gizmo called the Forge Clear Ice System via its own crowdfunding platform. The Forge system has a simple purpose — the delivery of perfectly clear ice. Yes, there’s a pretty specific target market for this thing. If you’re happy with the super-complicated new Coke machine at your local fast-food restaurant, go forth and live a happy life. But if you’re a connoisseur of really great bourbons, whiskeys, tequilas and other spirits, read on.

firstbuild forge clear ice system
firstbuild forge clear ice system
firstbuild forge clear ice system
firstbuild forge clear ice system
firstbuild forge clear ice system

Clear ice isn’t a new innovation. Bartenders have been messing around with it for decades, although it tended to come in 300-pound blocks until about 20 years ago when an NYC bar called Weather Up started playing around with ice that didn’t take a week to make. That’s where FirstBuild’s creation, the Forge Clear Ice System, comes in. Even modern methods of clear ice creation take up to a day. FirstBuild’s new gem can make clear ice between lunch and happy hour. It’s expected to run about $1,500 when it hits the retail market, but the company is offering pretty significant discounts to early adopters on its crowdfunding site. I’m also told that you can get the discount during this funding stage using the discount code “FORGE,” for what it’s worth.

“Our engineers have worked alongside whiskey experts and enthusiasts to create both an innovative way to make clear ice at home, and an experience that creates a wow every time,” said Larry Portaro, executive director of FirstBuild, in a release.

Keep in mind, this is nothing like an ice tray. This is an actual kitchen appliance that’s going to require some counter space. The two-component system includes a self-contained ice maker that produces clear gems of ice — no freezer space or plumbing required. Secondly, the Forge device serves as an ice press, complete with integrated heaters.

How’s that work? Basically, the ice maker makes ice cubes and keeps them frozen. The aforementioned heaters shape the cubes into crystal-like spheres in a minute or so, with no preheating or recovery time.

According to FirstBuild, Fred Minnick, spirits author, historian and editor-in-chief of Bourbon Plus, has signed on as spokesman for Forge.

“We’re living in the golden age of distilled spirits, and even if you’ve been enjoying these wonderful spirits near your whole life, clear ice is a game-changer,” Minnick said. “If you’ve read my books, you know I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend putting ice in your whiskey. But there’s a reason why Forge is the first product I’ve endorsed.”