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Gin Sniffing

Ginger, which is included in our Gin standards set, adds a spicy and, at higher concentrations, even hot note to gins. But researchers at the University of British Columbia have published a study demonstrating that ginger suppresses feelings of disgust. In a series of double-blind studies, volunteers were given either a ginger capsule or a placebo pill. For the first study, 242 participants were asked to rate how disgusted they felt when presented with a sequence of objectively disgusting photos, from rotten meat (moderately disgusting) to a man vomiting in a toilet (highly disgusting)…The results show that when a participant...

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Bourbon Rye Whisky

You could make the argument that the most important dividing line in American whiskey is citrus. Of course, there’s no citrus in whiskey – but there are chemical elements that the brain recognizes as citrus, most often oranges or lemons. And when they’re there, they lighten a whiskey in a way some people like, and some don’t. Citrus aromas are a top note, meaning when it’s there, it tends to really pop in the first sniff, or the first time the whiskey touches the tongue. It’s quickly overwhelmed by heavier notes like brown sugar or vanilla. Citrus aromas are more...

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Geotargeting Whiskey


Whiskey/beer writer Lew Bryson, author of Whiskey Master Class, takes to the Daily Beast to talk geotargeting -- the increasingly common creation of whiskey brands for release in limited areas.   "Sure, there are lots of whiskies that are only for sale in a limited area, but usually that is because the distillery is small and they don’t make a huge amount. But it’s different when a distiller or a brand that’s nationally distributed decides to get out the Sharpie and make a circle on the map, and say, 'Only here. Nowhere else.' It’s kind of special, and the reasons often...

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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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