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?

The Experts Speak: My Wine Is a Winner

By Christopher Null | August 4, 2016 |

Some eight years ago I received the craziest gadget I’ve yet to review: The WinePod, a giant urn that helps home winemakers craft their own vino. I ended up spending six months fermenting grapes, aging the wine in oak, and bottling it, and chronicled the process in a six-part series for Wired. For years the…

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How to Build a Better Bourbon: The Science Behind Buffalo Trace and the Lessons of the Single Oak Project

By Christopher Null | June 10, 2016 |

What better industry could you hope to work in today than the bourbon business? America’s official spirit has never been in better shape. U.S. bourbon sales have risen from 118 million liters in 2000 to 174 million liters last year, and bourbon is increasingly beloved on the global stage. Plus: Free bourbon. Across Kentucky, quite…

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Experimenting with Beyond Barrels Bottle Aging Staves

By Christopher Null | March 9, 2016 |

Beyond Barrels doesn’t exactly have a new idea: Take whiskey you don’t quite like as is, add a small piece of wood to the bottle, wait a few weeks, then presto, you’ve got extra-aged whiskey for just a few extra bucks. So-called “whiskey sticks” are everywhere these days. Sounds good, but does this all work quite…

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What To Do with Leftover Whisky? Blend Your Own Infinity Bottle

By Christopher Null | March 4, 2016 |

Whiskey samples are a way of life at Drinkhacker HQ, and when you’re in this business for awhile (we’re approaching 9 years and 5000 posts), those samples start to stack up. Sometimes samples come as full 750ml bottles. Often they arrive in the form of 50ml or 100ml minis. I give away more mostly-full bottles of…

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Tasting Lost Spirits Distillery Whiskey Experiments

By Christopher Null | October 20, 2015 |

Lost Spirits — the company that’s knee deep in ultra-accelerated spirits aging technology — has largely devoted its early experiments to one liquor category: Rum. Why rum? It’s easier to age, with simpler ingredients and a more straightforward line from white spirit to old brown stuff. Whiskey is a bit of a holy grail for…

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Here’s How To Make 20 Year Old Rum in One Week!

By Christopher Null | April 8, 2015 |

My piece on Bryan Davis and Lost Spirits just hit Wired this morning. Check it out! Davis has come up with a method of producing spirits that taste like they’ve been aging in the barrel for 20 years, but his process only takes six days. Davis doesn’t accelerate the aging process like so many of the…

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Experiment: Ice vs. Whiskey Stones vs. Tilt Chilling Sphere

By Christopher Null | January 27, 2013 |

The drinking industry’s war on ice is in full force. Fearful that ice will water down their precious booze, entrepreneurs are suggesting alternative chilling systems to bring the temperature of their hooch down. But do they work? Ice is effective at chilling a drink because it melts, releasing near-frozen water into your dram. Can alternative…

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Wild Turkey

Bourbon Infographic from Wild Turkey

By Christopher Null | September 10, 2012 |

Fun stuff from our pals in Kentucky in honor of September, which is Bourbon Heritage Month. Click for the full-size version.

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Whisky From Space?

By Christopher Null | September 1, 2012 |

Space whisky? Not exactly, but Ardbeg is releasing an homage to a grand experiment going on with space-based whisky maturation in this limited-edition bottling. Read on for the full press release. Ardbeg Galileo launched to celebrate Scottish distillery’s “world first” experiment in space Limited Edition of legendary Islay Distillery pays tribute to Galileo, the father…

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angel's share in action

The Angel’s Share, Illustrated

By Christopher Null | August 22, 2012 |

Last year I filled a 1.5-liter micro-barrel with Woodinville’s white whiskey, all part of its “age your own” whiskey kit. I’ve sampled it every couple of months but largely it’s been left untouched since July 2011. Today I bottled what was left. The photo below illustrates what two full bottles of white dog turned into…

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