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?

So We’re Drinking More

By Christopher Null | November 17, 2011 |

Have economic troubles finally sent people back to the bottle? Consumption of alcohol hit as 25-year high in 2010, with 67 percent of Americans reporting drinking alcoholic beverages, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll. That was a level not seen since the late 1970s, when 71 percent of Americans reported they imbibed…. New Englanders and…

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Strawberries Save Stomach from Booze

By Christopher Null | October 25, 2011 |

Who knew the humble strawberry could be so impressive? In an experiment on rats, European researchers have proved that eating strawberries reduces the harm that alcohol can cause to the stomach mucous membrane. Published in the open access journal Plos One, the study may contribute to improving the treatment of stomach ulcers. What then does…

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Why People Get Tanked at the Office Party

By Christopher Null | September 12, 2011 |

Ever wonder why demure Katie gets so wild at the annual office Christmas affair? Blame it on, well, the office. Per the Daily Mail: Drinking in environments not traditionally associated with alcohol leaves us far less able to control our behaviour, [researchers] claim. While alcohol does lower our inhibitions, over time the brain learns to…

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The Poor Stay Poor, the Rich Get Lit

By Christopher Null | August 11, 2011 |

Want to drink better? Stay in school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that spending on booze is strongly correlated with education. Not, perhaps, because the more educated someone is (and, thus, the richer they are) drink more… but rather that they simply drink better.  

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“Batching” Bourbon with Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris

By Christopher Null | August 10, 2011 |

Recently I had the opportunity to make my own Bourbon. No, I didn’t distill it, age it, or bottle it. I did the hard part: Batching it. Woodford Reserve’s Master Distiller Chris Morris was in town to talk shop, and I had the good fortune to be able to attend an experiment that, for Morris,…

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Cork vs. Screwcap: Here Comes the Science

By Christopher Null | July 16, 2011 |

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a cork popping out of that fresh bottle of wine, indicating it’s time at last to drink. The “click” of a screwcap seal being broken… well, it just doesn’t do the same thing for the senses. If Hogue Cellars has its way, you’re soon going to be willing…

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A Fungus Among Us

By Christopher Null | June 17, 2011 |

When in Kentucky, most of the distillery warehouses were covered in black mold. I asked one guide why they painted their buildings black (I had assumed to keep them warm) — but she basically said so you couldn’t see the mold. Turns out Bourbon country is not alone. Wired has the scoop on how neighborhoods…

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How a Blind Tequila Tasting Rocked My World

By Christopher Null | February 27, 2011 |

Recently I learned something that completely upended my worldview: It turns out I like Patron Tequila. OK, this in itself is not a shocker. Patron is the top-selling tequila brand outside of Cuervo, so a lot of people obviously like it. But I just reviewed Patron a few months ago and gave it a B,…

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Ice Is Nice

By Christopher Null | January 25, 2011 |

How do you get good ice at home? My quest took me from my freezer to New England and back again. Some say the world will end in fire. Some say it will end in ice. I hope it’s the latter. Finding a good ice cube to chill your cocktail is hell enough as it…

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Extreme Margarita Close-Up

By Christopher Null | August 30, 2010 |

It’s just as pretty under a microscope as it is in an oversized, salt-rimmed, cactus-themed cocktail glass. What Booze Looks Like Under a Microscope Keep hitting Next. The White Russian is super trippy…

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