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The Coming Peat War

Environment Whisky

In Scotland, there's a burgeoning environmental movement to ban the harvesting and burning of peat, one of the world's dirtiest fuels. The mining of peat is about as destructive as strip mining. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been laid waste by centuries of peat extraction. Only a small percentage of that harvest is used in the distilling of whisky, but it's absolutely crucial. That's why Diageo, maker of two of the peatiest whiskies in the world -- Lagavulin and Caol Ila -- has locked-up the rights to continue harvesting peat on Islay until there is no more peat to...

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Rye vs. Bourbon

Bourbon Research Rye

Researchers look at the perceptible qualities of rye and Bourbon and conclude there's no real difference. Whiskeyvolk disagree: (Researcher Jacob) Lahne’s selection of what he calls “commercial” whiskies used in the study contain just one with no corn (Bulleit Rye) and one with no rye (Maker’s Mark). The rest were blends of both corn and rye, inevitably exhibiting attributes of both. As noted by Dr. Lahne, “it is possible for a 2% difference in mashbill to tip a whiskey from one category into the other”, and it is not possible for even the most discerning tasters to consistently recognize such...

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Do Distilleries Have Signature Aromas?

Bourbon Buffalo Trace

In the chemistry of whiskey, evidence in the search for whiskey terroir.

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Why Women Smell Better Than Men

Sniffing Tasting

All joking aside, women  (in general) have more acute senses of smell than men. The reason for that, according to aroma research published in Brazil, is the number of neurons found in the brain’s olfactory bulb. Wedged down between the top of the nasal cavities and the bottom of the frontal lobe, the olfactory bulb is a computer, of sorts. It processes raw data from the nose into information the rest of the brain can use. Women’s olfactory bulbs are bigger than men’s — significantly bigger, as it happens. Women have almost twice as many of the cells that sort and categorize smell...

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Adding Spice to Modern Gin: Cassia Bark

Cassia Gin

Few people know the aroma of Cassia Bark, an increasingly popular gin botanical. The cassia tree is an evergreen found in east Asia. There is a distinct overlap in the aroma profiles of the oils from cassia and cinnamon. When you smell it, the ravishing, hot, spicy, and distinguishable “cinnamon-like, but heavier” aroma is very evident. This is the archetypal hot, spicy smell. It conjures feelings of being in markets in far-off Asia or Africa. The major molecule with the characteristic cassia aroma is cinnamic aldehyde. It’s a powerful odorant that makes up between 70% and 90% of cassia oils — a greater...

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