Drinking Science

The production of alcohol probably began by accident, but today it is a highly scientific and increasingly well-understood process, whether that’s fermenting beer and wine or distilling spirits. In this section we discuss questions around topics such as the accelerated aging of spirits, when and why certain products spoil, and even whether absinthe can make you go crazy. A lot of our coverage here is experimental, with deep dives into everything from glassware to various types of beverage cooling systems.

Top Drinking Science Posts:

Experiment: Ice vs. Whiskey Stones vs. Tilt Chilling Sphere
Does Absinthe Make You Hallucinate?
What’s the Difference Between a Pot Still and a Column Still?
All About Dusties: 1970s vs. 2018 Bourbon Tasted Side by Side
Does Glass Shape Affect the Way a Whiskey Tastes?
How to Build a Better Bourbon: The Science Behind Buffalo Trace and the Lessons of the Single Oak Project
Cork vs. Screwcap: Here Comes the Science
Why Are Some Spirits Rested in Stainless Steel?

How Does Terroir Impact California Chardonnay? A Deep Dive at Chalk Hill

By Christopher Null | May 29, 2021 |

Terroir is a monster of a topic, and during a recent online tasting, our friends at Chalk Hill took a deep dive into the question of how micro-terroirs impact the winery’s chardonnay, offering three different bottlings from the 2018 vintage, each pulled from a different part of the 1285 acres that make up Chalk Hill’s estate,…

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Tasting Maker’s Mark’s New Private Selection Stave: Roasted French Mendiant

By Christopher Null | May 3, 2021 |

The Private Selection program at Maker’s Mark is one of the most unique in the bourbon business, the idea being that customers can take a standard barrel of Maker’s Mark, then put 10 additional staves in the barrel, where they finish the whiskey for 9 extra weeks. Private Selection — no longer called Private Select —…

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How Long Does Vermouth Last?

By Christopher Null | April 1, 2021 |

Reader Evan asks (in a nutshell):  Does vermouth go bad? Grab that bottle of vermouth that’s been sitting open in your liquor cabinet for a year and take a sip. Yeah, it goes bad. Real bad. Vermouth is basically just wine, after all. But how long does it last after you open it? Conventional wisdom…

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How Much Do Bitters Matter in a Cocktail?

By Christopher Null | November 24, 2020 |

A couple of dashes of bitters swimming in a glass full of booze. How much of a difference can it make if you choose aromatic vs. creole, chocolate vs. orange, cucumber vs. rhubarb? Well, to help get to the bottom of the mystery of how much of a role bitters play in a cocktail, The…

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How to Get a Broken Cork Out of a Bottle

By Christopher Null | April 30, 2020 |

The corks in spirit bottles rarely break, but when they do it’s a catastrophe. Little bits of cork can’t be left floating in your $300 bottle of whiskey for months. The particles will slowly disintegrate over time and will ruin the flavor of the spirit. So, if a cork breaks in a bottle, what do…

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Hands on with WhistlePig and Flaviar’s Homestock Project

By Christopher Null | April 25, 2020 |

Blending whiskey is tons of fun. I’ve done blending sessions with Johnnie Walker and Woodford Reserve — but those were just for kicks. With Homestock, WhistlePig and partner Flaviar are doing something quite a bit different, setting up about 1000 drinkers with kits that let them blend up a whiskey that WhistlePig will bottle and…

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Why Don’t Whiskey Corks Dry Out? (And What You Should Do If They Do)

By Christopher Null | February 27, 2020 |

Drinkers of both wine and whiskey (and other spirits) must have considered the cork paradox at some point. Here it is: Wine corks dry out, so collectors must store bottles on their side, in order to keep the cork wet and, thus, intact. But spirits are known to damage cork material, so whiskey and other…

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Tasting Persedo’s “Polished” Spirits

By Christopher Null | February 11, 2020 |

Persedo isn’t a spirit brand you can go out and buy. Rather, it’s a technology, known in full as Persedo Polishing Technology, which spirits producers can use to improve their finished product — the proverbial Philosopher’s Stone that can take rotgut and turn it into top shelf hooch. The proprietary system is not an accelerated…

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How Long Does Baileys (And Other Cream Liqueurs) Last?

By Christopher Null | May 11, 2019 |

How long does Baileys last? I’ve received this question many times, in many forms. How long can will the bottle stay fresh while it’s still sealed? How long will it keep after it’s opened? Does it need to be refrigerated? Finally I am taking the time to answer your many questions and comments about Baileys…

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All About Dusties: 1970s vs. 2018 Bourbon Tasted Side by Side

By Christopher Null | October 14, 2018 |

Were things really better “back in the old days?” Whether you’re talking about music, politics, movies, or your ability to sleep with your doors unlocked, nostalgia is invariably a force to be reckoned with. Everyone loves to pine for days gone by, but few do it with the enthusiasm of the whiskey fanatic. It’s natural…

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